Each year on the third Wednesday in July, the Ann Arbor art fair begins. This fair is one of the largest in North America and brings more than 500,000 people through our small town in 4 days. For the past 50 years, Ann Arbor has played host to talented artists from around the globe as well as our own local talent. These artists show a massive body of work, including: beaded, sculpted, and fine jewelry, multi-media to oil paintings, fiber arts, wood, blow glass, photography, clay, furniture, carvings, etc.
I always take a special interest in the jewelry designers. Here are some of the more unique things I noticed this year:
- A lot of funky sculptural jewelry
- Mixing metals (e.g. silver & gold)
- Beach/recycled glass
- Stones with more inclusions – normally included stones would be considered lower quality, but when used properly, they offer an unmatched “natural” look.
- Cuff bracelets made from recycled materials (rubber, leather, metal, etc.)
- Rough stone material wire wrapped or set in sterling
- Encapsulation doming with interesting materials like vintage maps, pebbles. These would make great focals.
I also take a special interest in the way these artists display their work. You can always tell when someone is truly creative – it even extends to their booth design!
Like so many of you, I design and string most of my own jewelry. I’m also not very fond of fine jewelry, which makes it difficult for me (and especially Kevin) to buy jewelry made by someone else. I’m always on the lookout for something that I couldn’t make myself, but also has an artist-designed, unique feel. The art fair is one of the only places I’m able to find something. This year, Kevin and I were walking around and I saw a bracelet that I absolutely loved. He said he didn’t like it and I was sad. I found out later, that he said he didn’t like it so he could sneak back out and buy it for me as a surprise. It’s a silver cuff-style bracelet with flashes of 22k gold and a large fossilized turtle shell in the middle. I definitely couldn’t make it myself and it’s unique It’s by an artist named Elaine Rader (www.elaineraderjewelry.com). I truly love her style.
As a jewelry designer, what kind of jewelry do you buy for yourself? Have you been to many art fairs this summer? What kind of stuff are you seeing?