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Modernist Art Jewelry

The Modernist art jewelry takes after the Arts and Craft Movement in the late 19th century and early 20th century, where craftsmen worked together to complete a piece of jewelry, such as brooches, necklaces and rings.  Handcrafting was emphasized. In the 1930’s and 1940’s, the Federal Art program supplied a stipend to artists for their talent and work projects.  After World War II, veterans took advantage of the G.I. bill and went to school to learn this craft. Most Modernist jewelry artists did not want to use machines or soldering to perform their craft.  They preferred wire work. 

They used sheets of silver and copper, wood, plastic, semi-precious stones and other material without any essential value.  Most artists knew each other and shared knowledge, experiences and talents. These artists created jewelry that was considered very wearable but like the artists in the Art Nouveau Period, they often found it difficult to create jewelry that was affordable and could cover their costs.  Many artists were multi-talented in crafts such as pottery making and sculpting while others worked two jobs to make ends meet.

Ed Liven, designer and artist, found a way to speed up production by cutting and forming material so that apprentices could put them together.  He also used sand and wax casting. The Modernist Movement was well known in the 1950’s.  Although they were never main-stream, they were appreciated by many.  Their art today is highly desirable and can sell in the four figure prices.

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