Saturday, March 3, 2012

Jewelry As Dear Friends: The Unique Creations of Shadow Dog Designs

"In the Dreaming": Tree of Life Necklace with Pearls & Citrine
There is something quite unique about the jewelry handcrafted by Catherine of Shadow Dog Designs on ArtFire, and not only because every piece she creates is a stunning one-of-a-kind. Hers are artisan creations that strike a deep and resonant inner chord, lingering in the mind long after you have viewed them.

At work here is, without doubt, her unfailing good taste in her choice of materials—high-quality gemstones, sparkling sterling, artisan-made pendants and components—as well as her talent in bringing those materials together in a lovely design. However, it seems to me that what truly sets her jewelry apart is a creative sensibility best reflected in a statement she made in an interview by ScreamingSardine:
"I try to create jewelry that is like a dear friend, pieces that you will reach for time and time again and enjoy each time they are worn."
That's an astonishing goal when you think about it! Catherine has pursued this goal for the past 12 years with marvelous success, putting such thought and heart into her work that each piece is not just described in her listings, but introduced as someone would introduce a friend. Each
piece even has a name, which is highly appropriate, as friends always have names! Her jewelry is a fine example of how artisan work, which is commonly considered mere craft, can cross the creative line into the sphere of art. Depth, meaning, beauty, inspiration, expression, and genuine connection: welcome to the world of Shadow Dog Designs!

Now I would like to share several of Catherine's fabulous creations with you and comment on them. I've also included some additional jewelry pieces without comment, to show you even more of her wonderful work. Enjoy!

Purple Druzy Agate Necklace with Quartz & Sterling
"Passionately Purple" 
Catherine has loved stones ever since she was a child, and the gemstones here immediately mesmerized her when she saw them: she could see distinctive personalities in each glittering one. As she explains: "Beautiful druzy agate is a sparkling layer of tiny quartz crystals that have formed over eons on agate, often in a geode as the pieces in the necklace show. To be considered gem quality, druzy crystals must be tiny and not at all coarse." These stones, in their perfection, are rarities. Catherine added AAA quartz chips between them and to finish off the necklace. The result is absolutely fantastic!

"Passionately Purple": Druzy Agate Earrings"Black Ice": Banded Black Agate Necklace

Tree Pendant Necklace with Itasy Jasper & Garnets
"Crann Alainn"

Catherine's love of the majesty and beauty of trees finds its expression in this outstanding combination of itasy jasper, garnet, and copper with a marvelous porcelain tree pendant (handmade by BeadFreaky). As the artisan explains, the jasper beads complement the tree image with their woody appearance, and the garnets draw out the subtle red shades in the jasper. I love the overall warmth in the result and the way that the eye is invited to follow the focal tree's branching up throughout the entire piece. And what an inspired choice the tube beads are! They suggest arboreal strength while their wire-wrapped links and the pendant's daisy spacers suggest the foliated intricacies of trees—amazing! Much thought has gone into this piece, with beautiful and meaningful results. In fact, the name "Crainn Alainn" means "beautiful tree" in Irish Gaelic.

(I would just like to add a note about the Rudraksha seed necklace below. I am the lucky owner of Rudraksha seed earrings by Catherine, and they are gorgeous!)

"New Mexico Gold": Tree Pendant Necklace with Turquoise, Jasper & Labradorite"Shiva's Tear": Rudraksha Seed Necklace with Brown Freshwater Pearls

Copper Ammonite Earrings with Chocolate Lampwork Beads
"Time Traveler"

Catherine often tracks down outstanding artisan beads and pendants for her pieces, an approach that not only yields some fantastic finds but also extends the handmade quality of the pieces right down to their components. The wonderful earrings shown here are a great example of that approach, uniting handmade copper ammonite squares by Kristi of Kristi Bowman Design with luscious lampwork beads by Terry of Silverfish Designs. In her listing, Catherine generously explains the process these artisans used to create their beads. On top of all this, the earrings themselves are stunning, with an eye-catching mix of textures! Amazing! 

"Blue Dreamer": Lapis Lazuli & Czech Glass Earrings with Thai Silver "Dreaming in Purple": Purple Amethyst Bracelet with Sterling Beads & Toggle Clasp

Copper Daisy Earrings with Turquoise Magnesite
"Turquoise Spring"

These must be among the most cheerful earrings ever, suggesting a landscape of beautifully unfolding flowers under the brightest of blue skies. Catherine's muse—nature—was certainly at work here, inspiring the perfect pair of earrings for the springtime! The copper daisy diamonds have a special way of shifting hues depending on the angle of the light, and the turquoise magnesite complements them wonderfully. As Catherine explains, magnesite is believed to help turn dreams into realities, whereas copper is said to allow the wearer to see obstacles to personal development. In every way, then, this is a positive piece, celebrating growth without and within, and offering the "extra" of being incredibly fun and sweetly flirty. Please note: the daisy diamonds were handmade by Kristi of Kristi Bowman Design.

"Transformation": Carnelian Moth Pendant Necklace with Red Jasper"High Desert Songs": Thai Floral-Stamp & Mookaite Jasper Necklace with Garnets

Quartz Points Necklace with Black Onyx
"Whispers of the Untold"
"Whispers of the Untold" is my own current favorite of Catherine's pieces—although, that said, I have many favorite pieces among her amazing work! The quartz points are just gorgeous, with an evocation of so many of the inspirational sources for the artisan, from the beauty and power of nature to the geological links of Earth and ancient times. Nature has crafted the style of these stones, and Catherine has honored that: she presents the quartz points in a way that highlights their natural quality, and then she applies stylistic sense and design balance via black onyx beads and sterling. As Catherine notes in her listing, quartz reputedly is a healing power stone that awakens the wearer to the beauty of nature. Certainly, this necklace as a whole is a wake-up call to beauty—and a great example of the art in this artisan's approach to jewelry creation. 

"Ancient Voice": Fossil Ammonite Necklace with Freshwater Pearls & Swarovski Crystals"A Passion for Chocolate": Chocolate Jasper Necklace with Freshwater Pearls & Swarovski Crystals

Aquamarine Gemstone Necklace with Sterling Beads
"Cool, Cool Waters"
At Shadow Dog Designs, it seems there is always at least one piece of jewelry (and usually more) with a focal element that designates peace, and I've included two current examples below. However, in featuring one of Catherine's peace-connected works, I've chosen this lovely aquamarine creation because its subtleties might not attract as much notice as the others, and that would be a shame, as this is an outstanding piece! The color of the stones is so calming, and there is such a gentle quality to the simple but highly elegant jewelry design. Its clasp is elegant as well, with a lovely sterling extender chain. Catherine remarks in her listing that this piece feels amazing when worn. I imagine it looks amazing too! All in all, a wonderful artisan creation!

"Peace on Earth": Sterling Peace Sign Earrings with Swarovski Crystals"PAZ": Peace Necklace with Lava Stone & Swarovski Crystals

Leopardskin Jasper Necklace with Freshwater Pearls & Sterling
"Earth Dancer"

Catherine's love of nature and love affair with stones dovetails in this lovely chunky leopardskin jasper necklace. This type of jasper is itself an amazing attraction, as Catherine notes in her listing, and the jasper used here is particularly marvelous with its color range of medium pinks, mellow yellows, rusty red, khaki greens, dark browns, and dark greys to black. She has added little sterling beads and brown freshwater pearls to complement these special stones. The result is "Earth Dancer" - a jewelry creation that is a perfect union of Mother Nature's artistic flair and the artisan's impeccable taste and creative eye! 
"Canyonlands": Sea Sediment Jasper Necklace with Shell Beads"Beachcomber": Shiva Shell Necklace with Orange Coral & Sterling

Purple Charoite Earrings with Copper & Swarovski Crystals

It was difficult selecting the last piece to feature in this article, but after much debating, I've chosen these purple charoite earrings in tribute to Catherine's lifelong love of stones. The charoite rounds look like some of the most amazing stones you could ever find! As the artisan explains in her listing, charoite is found in only one area of the world, near the Chary River in Russia. It is typically heat-treated to bring out its lustrous qualities. "Chary" means "charm" or "magic" in Russian, and once the stones are treated, they are magical indeed! The charoite of these earrings has shimmering purple bands that, along with the lovely khaki-green Swarovski crystals, will bring an "otherworldly" sparkle and glitter to your ears. So beautiful!

"Copper Elegance": Copper Sterling Cross Earrings"Ancient Voices": Copper Ammonite Earrings with Lime Swarovski Crystals

I hope you have enjoyed this article and will take some time to browse Shadow Dog Designs on ArtFire. There are so many more wonderful artisan jewelry pieces to discover! Plus, Catherine devotes much care to her listings, providing a wealth of details on each piece. Her listings are more than informative—they're fascinating! All of Catherine's links are provided below the following photos of Chase, Loki, and Mesa—the beautiful beloved "shadow dogs."

Links for Shadow Dog Designs
Catherine's Shop on ArtFire  • ArtFire Blog  • Facebook  • Flickr  • Twitter  • Pinterest

Catherine also belongs to the Checked In Today! Guild on ArtFire—so do I! In case you're interested, a link to the guild's blog is here.

Very best wishes to Catherine and to you from PrettyGonzo!