2006 Folklore

2006 Folklore

Folklore is the hidden submerged culture lying behind the shadow of official civilization”. (Richard Dorson)

Folklore – a relevant theme to this very day.

First design contest builds a spectacular bridge between past and present.

 NTJ2006: Folklore and the premiere of New Traditional Jewellery

All over the world costume traditions, family ties, ceremonies, rituals and feast days go hand in hand with specific jewellery. Everywhere and in all times this jewellery has conveyed a social message and represented an economic status. These types of symbol bearers tend to disappear from the street scene; with luck these artefacts end up in a museum. High time, therefore, to devote the first NTJ to the basis of jewellery design: ornaments that are part of folklore and costume traditions, no matter where in the world. The theme selected is still relevant. NTJ2006: Folklore asked jewellery designers all over the world to make jewellery design relevant to them and forming part of a folklore, their starting point for the design of a new version made by them. More than two hundred jewellery artists from all parts of the world have drawn inspiration from this theme. The result was a truly impressive collection of pectoral ornaments, necklaces, collars, caps, rings, buckles, arm ornaments and a lot more.

The theme ‘folklore’ fits in with the current development in art and design. A revaluation of folklore is part of the counter reaction to mass production, overconsumption, short product cycles, exploitation of nature, expansion and the adage ‘more is better’. The theme invited artists to explore roots, crafts, old techniques, use of material and the language of symbols, and come up with new symbol bearers. At the same time this is the core of NTJ: the contest stimulates an active dialogue with the past by having new wearable objects of art be the bridge between history and the present. And this is precisely what all participants in NTJ2006: folklore had in common: they added a new, contemporary and simply spectacular chapter to the long history of jewellery from folklore and age-old costume traditions.

JURY 2006

Carin Reinders: dir. CODA Museum Apeldoorn
Fred W. Brom F.G.A. ; Steltman jewellery in The Hague
Herman Hermsen ; Jeweller and Professor für Schmuck- und Produktdesign  Fachhochschule Düsseldorf University  of Applied Sciences
Isabella van den Bos ; creative development T.T.G. ‘collector jewellery’
Astrid Berens: Dir. SIERAAD Art Fair
Anne Berk ; author en artcritic Kunstbeeld / Financiële Dagblad

The theme fits in with the current developments in art.

The 20th century was characterized by innovation. It seemed pos- sible to engineer social changes, and (art)history would show a linear development to reach an ever higher level.

In the field of jewellery design plenty of experimentation went on with new (preferably base) materials, whereby artists aimed at elementary forms and plain use of materials, just as in the plastic arts. The ornament was an autonomous form closely related to the body. In the middle of the 80s the tide turned. History turned out to be of a cyclic nature: past and present are not chapters that are closed – the past affects the present, which is also evident in the art of jewellery.

Artists rediscover the past and derive patterns and decorations from historical jewellery and costumes. They apply the decorations using new techniques and materials, or create new forms with the help of ancient techniques. In the past ornaments stood for more than just decoration, they were heirlooms or amulets – bearers of a symbolism which contemporary jewellery artists are reinterpreting.

International cross-fertilization

Even though opinions may vary on this subject, traditional costumes are the products of a constant international cross-fertilization, to which the New Traditional Jewellery contest adds another chapter. It stimulates an active dialogue with the past.



The student prize was awarded to Claudia Schmedding from Germany, a student at the Düsseldorf academy. Her entry is called Seiltänzerin, tightrope dancer. Her starting point was the rich traditional costume of German farmers’ wives, a costume tradition in which lace and lace-like finished materials, and refined silverware, worked in repoussé, stand out. Her acrylic rings varying in size and enclosed in silver beads or pearls border on an intriguing edge, according to the jury.  Her work is rendered fragile as well as refined by the transparent rings. Not only do the beads form the connecting link between the rings, but they also serve as a historical reference to the manifold folkloristic applications of granules in both ornaments and textiles. Schmedding’s work can be as opulent as the way in which farmers’ wives display their wealth by wearing strings of necklaces simultaneously. The accumulation of her necklaces creates a monumental image.

The jury feels that Schmedding has found an intriguing balance between theme, idea and execution.

German jewellery artist Sabine Lang has provided her entry with a poetic motto: “Against vanishing into thin air” – “Schmuck gegen das sich in Luft auflösen alter Traditionen”.  She breathes new life into the disappearing costume of farmers’ wives in the German North Frisian isle of Föhr. Eyecatcher is the monumental silver “breast-plate” consisting of various wrought chains which are pinned to the top part of the costume, just below the collarbones – monumental linked ornaments made of silver filigree, resembling a collection of chains of office, if anything. The jury is captivated by Lang’s approach, relativistic as well as powerful. She made a replica of a breast-plate in a transparent vacuum-pressed synthetic material. In this way a contemporary lightweight breast-plate is created breathing the delicacy of soap bubbles, an airy artefact which may enhance any simple garment, be it a T-shirt or a “little black dress”.

With her “Against vanishing into thin air” Lang puts the breast-plate back into everyday life, the jury states.

Christina Karababa from Greece went to work on a 19th century gilded-silver double clasp from the collection of the National Historic Museum in Athens. The original clasps are decorated with detailed and complex floral patterns in engraving, granulating and casting techniques. For these closed, compact shapes Karababa has worked out a contemporary counterbalance. For her Porpi 2 design she used a state-of-the-art computer programme – anything but a technical gimmick, according to the jury. Karababa counters the brilliant drudgery of the original with the achievements of digital technology: Rapid Prototyping, meaning the industrial manufacture of single parts (such as the new clasps) straight from 3D-data.

Her Porpi 2 has been executed in cast aluminium. Openwork forms reminiscent of a 3D reproduction of the hilly landscape around the village of Porpi in northern Greece. Karababa brings together technique, origin and tradition of great sculptural value, according to the jury.

The increasingly personal interpretation of coping with the death of a loved one is also reflected in the work of jewellery designers. Mourning jewellery is as old as mankind and working on a comeback. “Necklace in C Amorphous” is a creation of Carla Nuis. This year she scored with another necklace made by her which won her the Dutch Design Award for Free Design and Fashion. “Necklace in C Amorphous” is made of compact charcoal beads. The ‘C’ stands for the chemical element of carbon, the amorphous variety of diamond. The beads have facets, just like the jets (also made of carbon) of 19th century mourning chains which are part of the Zeeland traditional costume. The jury is impressed by the simple as well as effective treatment of the material and the way in which Nuis plays with its light effects. Entirely in keeping with the tradition of a mourning ornament, the beads are opaque and dark. The extraordinary silky reflection displays a range of gradations in greys and blacks. This is in reference to the strict rules of old for gradations in mourning.

With this almost minimalist necklace Nuis has added a new chapter to the tradition of mourning jewellery, says the jury.

The second prize-winning mourning ornament was made by Joke Dubbeldam: a pendant with two “faces”. One side is made of corroded steel with a pattern, cut in openwork, of died back honeysuckle. This part is connected to its counterpart by means of a crisscross of riveted, small silver rods; blackened steel with a silver inlay in a pattern of flowering honeysuckle. The pendant is attached to forty black silk threads. Concrete poetry, according to the jury. It is not just her imagery – the jury praises the great craftsmanship with which all segments of this pendant have been made. “In this pendant Dubbeldam immortalizes mortality”.

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