Today on Folly Friday, I’m announcing my book launch giveaway. I’m having a big launch party in my town but because not everyone can come (pesky distance issues), I wanted to do something nice for the online FOLLY readers. Several months ago I approached Jen Parrish, an incredible Pre-Raphaelite inspired jewelry designer who created Ugly Betty’s B necklace, and asked her if she’d be willing to design a necklace using JW Waterhouse’s A Mermaid painting. Many of you who’ve read FOLLY already know that Vicky is a huge fan of this painting, so I wanted to give away something that Vicky would want herself. Jen graciously agreed to take on the commission and I’m glad she did. The resulting necklace is gorgeous! And it’s one-of-a-kind made especially for my book launch. There will never be another.
You ready? Here it is:
Isn’t it beautiful?
Now, the details.
The first place prize includes: Jen’s A Mermaid necklace, a signed book, an audiobook, a launch party t-shirt with original art drawn by my father, launch party swag with original art, and a FOLLY soundtrack.
Second prize includes: Signed book, an audiobook, launch party swag, Iron Jawed Angels DVD, and a FOLLY soundtrack.
Third prize includes: an audiobook, swag, Waterhouse art cards, FOLLY Soundtrack, A Mermaid notebook.
Fourth prize includes: launch party swag, Pre-Raphaelite art cards, FOLLY soundtrack.
Fifth prize includes: launch party swag, FOLLY sound track.
The giveaway is open to US and Canada. However, if you’re from Europe and want to participate, you can. You’ll just have to pay the postage for the bigger prizes. Just send me an email through my Contact Me page and let me know. Rafflecopter entry form below.
In addition to providing the beautiful necklace, Jen sat down for an interview and shared her creative process.
Jen Parrish learned her craft at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and has designed for museums, the entertainment industry, and other lucky writers, such as Neil Gamain. Parrish Relics is an alchemy of modern and old world techniques. Stained glass and found images are joined with highly detailed sculpted frames, semi-precious stones, or glass vessels, and finished with the hand-painted patinas of antiqued metals for a romantic, time worn presence. Visit her at Parrish Relics.
My protagonist, Vicky, adores the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and counts them as her inspiration. You use a lot of Pre-Raphaelite art in your work. What is it about the PRB that inspires you?
I am drawn to their iconic visions of Myth and Romance, their interpretations of Nature, Beauty, Symbolism. There is a story in every painting, not just what is shown in the image, but behind the scenes…what the artist was going through at the time, who their muse was, the state of their world and what they believed in. Sometimes it was only just what they found to be beautiful or compelling. They interpreted what they read about in poetry, Medieval tales, literature, and brought them to life in a unique way, a bit more lush and glorious than the grey Victorian England that seemed to surround them.
Vicky’s favorite artist is J.W. Waterhouse, an inheritor of the PRB legacy, and the artist of A Mermaid, which is, of course, the subject of the beautiful necklace you custom-designed for the giveaway. Do you have a favorite PRB artist?
I do! Sir Edward Burne-Jones. There is just something about his work, and his flawed but loveable character that I am so enamored with. Certainly a complicated human, but his Art and his self-effacing cartoon drawings of himself and his circle make me adore him even more. His cartoon of “his half” of the cat is one of my favorites, he is always drawn disheveled and bleak-eyed. Some of them weren’t very kind to the people in his life, but he made fun of himself just as often it seems.
I do love Waterhouse as well; his technique and style are dreamy and powerful at the same time. My friend Lisa Gill, who owns Medieval Muse, and I drove from Boston to Montreal one arctic February weekend to go to a fantastically designed and curated Exhibition of his work. Well worth the cold and sometimes hair-raising driving! Also had the opportunity to see the Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition in Washington D.C. at the National Gallery last year (with the same great friend). So much beauty and inspiration! Art-adventures are the best. I found a new admiration for William Holman Hunt there, seeing his work in person was just breathtaking.
What drew you to jewelry design?
I have always been attracted to self-adornment, as a statement about who we are at first glance. The way we clothe and accessorize ourselves can tell so much about the time we live in, what is important to us, how we differentiate ourselves from the masses. Going to museums with my mother when I was a child, I was particularly fascinated by the jewelry…crowns, rings, adornments of all kinds and cultures. Ceremonial and rich, or rustic and crafted of the most humble of materials. All beautiful in their own way, as they were given importance by the people taking the time to create them. Elaborate Egyptian gold and lapis collars, stone carved greek animals that were worn so long ago, held such mystery to me. Memories of begging my mother to buy me a tiny reproduction of an ancient ibex amulet of brass in the gift shop, and cherishing it. It seemed to hold a kind of magic, mysterious and beautiful. I made jewelry for my dolls at home, even toy animals wore bracelets and collars crafted from anything I could find. But the final impetus to make my own jewelry from clay came from my High School Art teacher, who suggested I make my own jewelry instead of wearing keys, safety pins and all manner of junk in my ears and around my neck. (the 80’s was an “interesting” time for fashion J)
I then went to Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts to learn about Art History, Architecture, Stained Glass and Sculpture, immersed myself in everything I could and applied it to my designs. And never stopped! That was over a quarter of a century ago.
I find it fascinating that you don’t remake your pieces, and that they are truly one of a kind. Can you take us through your creative process? For instance, where do you find inspiration, what materials do you use, and how are the pieces made?
There are a few shapes and designs that come up in my work over and over, but I do try to make each one truly unique. Since they are all completely made by hand, even when doing small lines of production work, they are all slightly different. It just can’t be helped when you aren’t a machine! And I think that is what makes them special.
For pictorial necklaces, I usually start out going through my huge inventory of found images. I recycle various catalogs and magazines I have collected over the years, and pour through them over and over, drawn to different things each time. Many images are cut out and stored in a file system by era, style or subject, but I’m not always that organized! Then the “treatment” of the image is chosen, either cutting glass in an interesting shape to frame it, or selecting a vintage glass cabochon, or even a tiny glass vessel to set it in. For Stained Glass designs, I get a lot of inspiration in Venetian Architecture, Medieval Churches, Nature. A Victorian designer named Pugin is my absolute favorite for uniquely gothic and floriated shapes and window forms. A short-lived genius, he created designs for Architecture, Jewelry, Tile, Stained Glass, Furniture and Ecclesiastical Raiment. I love the idea of tiny windows in tribute to other times and places, real or imagined, to be worn around the neck and carried with you. I frame the glass and imagery in clay that is fired, and then painted with four different layers of base color and metallic finish to give it a time worn and aged look. Then I choose the beadwork or chain that it is held on, sometimes that takes a while, as I like to really compliment the shape or image and have so many options in my studio to chose from! Other times it is easy and I just feel like a channel that something flows through. Barely thinking about it, just doing.
What is your work space/studio like?
Right now it is a former tiny bathroom at the top of a stairway, barely enough room for my desk and chair, and my cat Galatea. But it is warm and filled to the ceiling with supplies and materials, and things that inspire me. Hoping to be moving to a bigger space in the spring, we shall see.
Jen and assistant Galatea in her studio
I love Ugly Betty’s “B” necklace, which is a nod to Anne Boleyn’s iconic necklace. Can you talk a little bit about the story behind your own version?
Over the years I had made reproductions of a few Historic Jewelry pieces, either for myself to wear, or for local theatrical productions or photo shoots. I had created a version of Anne Boleyn’s famous “B” initial necklace and brought it to a meeting with my jewelry rep at the time, along with my original line and other reproductions. She was expecting to meet with the costume department in London for “The Other Boleyn Girl” and was going to show them my work…but the “B” was intercepted in NYC by Patricia Field, who was styling the show and thought it would be perfect for Betty. The rest is a “second history” for this odd little necklace. It was quite thrilling to see something that I had created with my own hands, ending up on giant billboards hanging in Times Square, and working so very hard on filling orders from fans of the show around the world, one at a time. Quite a surprise and I’m still very proud to be a small part of a fun show starring such a loveable character that is still important to many people. Though my 15 minutes of fame felt to me a bit like a band becoming known only for a cover song! It’s ok though, I have slowly over the many years built up a wonderful tribe of support who collect my work and appreciate it, and keep me going when it isn’t always easy to be a self-employed artist.
Ugly Betty’s iconic B necklace
I’m thrilled to be part of a group of writers who have commissioned work from you. I love the amber piece you did for Neil Gaiman. How did he discover your work?
Thank you! I was vending at WisCon one year and the jewelry artist next to me, the wonderful Elise Matheson and I chatted over the weekend. It was my first time vending there, and she was so incredibly welcoming and helpful, introducing me to everyone who stopped by her table. She later contacted me about a project Neil had first asked her to create, but she felt my work was more appropriate. How amazing and giving is that? I was excited and thrilled with the project and I heard that he was happy with it too so that was a very good experience.
Viking cross and amber oroborus piece for Neil Gaiman
And now…Enter to win the Mad, Wicked Giveaway! There are three chances to win if you answer all three boxes.
a Rafflecopter giveaway