Friday, March 01, 2013

L'Hiver: 2013 Challenge of Music

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This is one of the easiest decisions I've made in my journey to becoming more confident in my jewellery design: selecting a piece of instrumental music to inspire my creativity. Such was the request of Erin Prais-Hintz, of Treasures Found for this year's Challenge of Music. Almost instantly I knew I would be using a composition I have loved since childhood, the Winter Concerto from Antonio Vivaldi's 1723 "The Four Seasons".

I have always considered these four concertos "different" from other music of the Baroque Period. While following the "rules" of that period, this music nonetheless contains many innovations, including the use of solo instrument and the imitation of the sounds of nature. I learned much  about both Vivaldi and his most famous musical work while researching.

There exists an abundance of recordings of this very well-known work. I chose the Vang Church venue, site of yearly Christmas concerts broadcast internationally from Hamar, Norway. The featured soloist is the ebullient Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelson. I chose this particular recording not just for its musical and architectural beauty, but also its northern location, as part of the winter symbolism.

Awesome, isn't she? Mari and her brother, cellist Håkon Samuelsen, are world-renowned musicians and often perform together.

As always, the actual design of my jewellery proved problematic. I made several false starts (I won't call them failures because I didn't FAIL to learn from them). I knew I would incorporate polymer clay. As I sat pondering my storage space, I saw one of my "brain canes", and that was the starting point for my successful design.

That's the original cane design on the bottom right, and my version to the left of it. My first sucessful "cane adaptation"! The original is from a tutorial by Cindy Lietz, one of my favorite PC innovators and teachers. 

The swirling pattern brings to mind the fury of the winter wind as evoked by the first movement (allegro non molto) of Vivaldi's concerto. For balance I wanted very quiet and restrained elements, as represented by the white quartz and elegant silver (that chain is actually a pre-made bracelet). This symbolizes the slower second movement (Largo). The third movement (Allegro) reminds me of moving swiftly through snowy fields and forests... perhaps in a horse-drawn sleigh? I added the large crystal snowflake and created a charm using the Snowy Tree Cane I made in 2011, another of Cindy Lietz' designs. 

It amazes me how something composed almost 300 years ago continues to inspire similar emotions with audiences in our age, just as it did in Vivaldi's day. I love the contrasts in this musical story, but also in the approach Vivaldi chose. He was certainly ahead of his time! Though he respected the framework and the traditional motif of his time... three balanced movements: fast, slow, fast... his composition was filled with much that was unheard of in his time. He took the tools available to him and came up with new and wonderful uses. 

In our own small way, I think we as artisans are dreaming of innovation as we play and design with each new process put before us. I felt like one such dreamer as I worked through this fun challenge. Thanks so much, Erin... it has been a thrill as always!

You can find links to the other participants by scrolling down below this final collage picture:

The names bracketed by *asterisks* are those who, unfortunately, were unable to join in at this time. Hope to see you at the next challenge, ladies!


  1. The necklace is fantastic as is the music! I love the way the use of all the white really makes your pc pieces really stand out

  2. Your polymer canes are great! Your piece really evokes a snowy winter storm. Gret job!

  3. Monique, this is gorgeous! It does picture perfectly Vivaldi's beautiful concert (thanks for sharing, his 4 Seasons are high on my list of favourites), and the weather outside (unfortunately :)). Love your cane work too.
    Thank you for such a detailed description of the music, I learned a lot during this blog hop just from listening to the music everyone chose and their interpretations.

  4. This necklace emulates the music perfectly! What a creative piece!

  5. Your necklace is awesome - I love the cane you used and the swirls - matches the music perfectly!

  6. I agree with everyone. Your necklace truly matches the music. I have learned so much about music with this hop. Great Job!

  7. Beautiful necklace! Such a great interpretation of the brumal (yes, I've learnt a fancy word in english) music.

    Vivaldis music is really interesting. It does sound baroque, no doubt, but there's also parts of the music that feels very modern (or timeless) in a way other composers of his time didn't manage to do.

    (footnote: "extreme northern location"? Southern Norway doesn't feel that extreme to me, but then again I'm swedish.)

  8. Monique!!! I LOVE IT!!!!! Wow!!! Your canes are always to beautiful!!!! Great job!!!

  9. Having played violin for five years as a child, I am always partial to music that features the violin and this rendition of The Winter Concerto is amazing.

    Love your interpretation of the music in your necklace.

  10. Well, if you say you had trouble with the design I believe you but it sure doesn't look like it from here! I love this piece of music by Vivaldi and I can so see it in the design you've created. How great you picked a piece of music from Norway. The blue of the lights in the venue make you feel the cold of a winters piece and your choice of materials reflected
    winter so well. Congrats my friend - this is a great piece of jewelry.

  11. Funny, I recognize all parts of this from it being played in my home growing up but I couldn't have attibuted correctly. so thank you! Perfect choice of performance I think since indeed, quite North to most of the world :), and her face! Especially that first part, she is playing so fast I can imagine the million pin pricks of bitter cold wind on her cheeks. BRRRRR! And as always your necklace, your polymer, just stunning! love how the mica (or perhaps glitter formula) adds to the snow effect

  12. I love this music choice, and your interpretation is spectacular. The notes of the music hold such weight and presence, yet are played with such light, grace and speed. I think your design is a spot-on compliment to each and every one. Beautiful job!

    :) Molly

  13. What a beautiful piece! I am inspired by Vivaldi too. You work is exceptional and so very well thought out. Love it!

  14. Great match for the music. Love the focal piece.

  15. Beautiful music and a stunning necklace ... Your cane work is amazing!!! I really enjoyed watching Mari perform -- makes me wish I hadn't given up playing the viola in high school. Ah, hindsight ... gets me every time! =)

  16. Brrrr, cold! I love Vivaldi's Winter, such a brilliant piece of music :)

    I luuuuurve your canes, they are so amazing, the colours and details are just perfect, and they are spot on for this piece of music!

  17. Hi Monique, Love your piece! It definitely depicts the 4 seasons of the Vivaldi. The starts & stops & the colors too make it easy to "feel" the music in your necklace! wow!

    By the way, been reading up on polymer. It's next on my list to do. You've inspired me for sure. Thanks for sharing your artistic passion!

  18. What a fabulous piece of music and an equally fabulous necklace you have designed here! I love your tree charm. And the pattern in your beads really decribes the momentum I hear in the music. The colors are just gorgeous too:)

  19. Vivaldi's Four Seasons is such a deeply emotional piece of music. Watching that artist play the violin was so moving. She is bringing those notes from her entire body. What a thrill that must be! You are a dreamer Miss Monique! Bringing your creations to life and puzzling through the challenges is what makes your innovation part of your art. Thank you for sharing this beautiful music and your art and process with the world! So glad you could join in the Challenge! Enjoy the day. Erin P.S. Making canes is something fascinating to me and would love to try it one day. For me Polymer Clay is just a canvas. But to be able to imagine that those bits and strips of clay could become something different entirely is true artistry!

  20. Oh Monique what a delight to see your piece here today!! I loved it so much I pinned it to our Student's Work Board on Pinterest so that others could see it there too! I love this Vivaldi piece. When I was a teen, I played flute in a competitive youth orchestra. (Wish I could say that I still played well but that would be a big fat lie. :)) Any way, we played all of the Four Seasons. They are very moving and picturesque pieces. You did a great job translating this Winter movement into a beautiful piece of jewelry!

    Thank you for saying such kind words about my tutorials. I wish everyone that took them, would take them further to another level like you have. It is very rewarding and inspiring to see you come up with your own interpretations. Great job!

    ~Cindy Lietz


I love your comments and read each one! I am happy to reply to anyone who has an email attached to their profile, and I love doing just that (plus I was brought up to say "thanks" LOL). I don't usually reply here on the blog, but I will if you are a "no-reply blogger" with a question. Know that I appreciate EVERYONE who takes time to drop me a line!

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