Friday, December 26, 2014

A penny for your thoughts? Thoughts on coins...

Happy Boxing Day to our UK readers, team mates, and friends!

 (The exact etymology of the term "boxing day" is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is definitive. The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in places of worship to collect donations to the poor. Also, it may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen,which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.)

From Boxing Day to coins wasn't that far of a creative association if you think if the Medieval alms boxes. And It is most definitely coins that have inspired this post.

Examples of ancient coins, many of them Greek. 
I want to start with Niky Sayers of Silver Niknats - for she was the driving source of inspiration to me for this topic. We recently participated in the Beads of Courage Charm swap and Auction, which I know you heard about here. I received a coin "locket" made from a 40's era copper British farthing. (pictured below, canvas backdrop) It thrilled me no end. The bird is a wren - at times called "Jenny wren" and there are myriad folklore and tales associated with the bird... There is a garnet inside, a secret treasure. I love her use of coins, both her creative vision, and the recycling nature of the coins as material. And I admit to being an Anglophile - if you have seen any of my tiles and shrines you know they are inspired by myth and lore, mainly that of the UK, Ireland, etc. 

The six pence coin ( top left) pictures the four plants representing the UK: Tudor rose/England, thistle/Scotland, leek/Wales, Shamrock/N. Ireland.  Thanks to Niky for the use of her pix. 

So coins. Coins IN jewelry. Coins as material to make jewelry... not just a wonderful coin, prong set simply... on a chain. But more integrated... Here are my inspirations: 

Richard Salley. These older pieces of his show his mastery of mixing found objects, wire, metal. The union of quarter and a watch casing as the front of a hinged locket? Brilliant. Found washers, steel wire, visually compelling mechanisms that are simple and function flawlessly. 

Keith LoBue. Keith is a Stuffsmith, an artist working with all matter of materials and found objects to make wearable sculpture. This spinner ring of his showcases a three penny coin, and the patina of age  is gorgeous. 

Hairy Growler. Caroline, my fellow AJE member mentioned this UK artist to me... And his work is... well, just look! I am in love! His take on reworking older coins is beyond creative. I really appreciated the inclusion of the original coin in the images - to see King George and then the altered version really illustrates the amount of work carved/engraved into each piece. And of course - the moon hare is a favorite!!! 

Stacey Lee Webber. I had the good fortune to meet Stacey at the ACC Craft Show in Baltimore a year or so ago. It was so interesting to see these pieces in person! Taking a commonplace coin and elevating it, challenging our associations of a mundane object, given and used... now becoming a treasure, a work of art. Really interesting! 

I am inspired by these artists and more - coins are miniature works of art, designed and carved by artists whose names are not recorded for posterity... I find coins can be very evocative souvenirs of a place, a trip, a time. I plan a more hands on coin post in a few, when the new year has me back in my studio. 

I hope you are all enjoying the post holiday period! Have a merry holiday - wishing you all the best! 


  1. Hi Jenny: I know you didn't mean to neglect your Canadian followers but we also celebrate Boxing Day but it is more akin to your Black Friday with crazy sales everywhere! Personally i call it Pajama Day and appreciate a day with no expectations and the opportunity to just chill and enjoy the aftermath of Christmas. The lead up to Christmas is so crazy that most of us miss the joy of it and to me Boxing Day is the time to reflect and enjoy the mood of the season!

  2. This is a really interesting post. Thanx for sharing Jenny. I saved several of the pics in my inspiration folder.

  3. Love this post. Thanks for highlighting these artists. I have long loved the coin motif, and Niky Sayers is a favorite. But others are new to me.

  4. Thank you for including me in such a wonderful and inspiring post Jenny and I look forward to seeing more of these other artists work, such great ideas!


We would love to hear what you have to say, please leave a comment.