Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jewelry of the World: Ancient Rome

The Mediterranean is one of the hot beds of ancient civilization, and the largest of the empires to inhabit this area was the Roman Empire. Rome was the home of invention, science, philosophy, religion, art, theater, and war. This breeding ground for culture brought about one of the most diverse eras in jewelry design. 


Because of the expanse of the Roman Empire, styles of jewelry were often influenced by the different cultures that were conquered. Circlets were adapted from contact with Egypt and much of Roman jewelry was made by Greeks in the Greek style. Motifs and imagery from different cultures was often included in Roman jewelry. This is not to say that Romans did not include their own styles. Hoop earrings were first invented in Rome as well as a preference in circular designs. Rome also infused their jewelry with their religion and superstition by carving likenesses of gods or goddesses into jewelry or wearing symbols like snakes for health and protection.  

The Romans had one of the most diverse collections of gemstones available in the Ancient world. Every new country that was conquered brought new stones, and trade lines with Asia and India brought an even larger selection. From this bounty, gem collecting began to take root. Having jewelry with gems from across the empire became very stylish. 

Pearls were highly valued in Roman culture. Pliny the Elder, one of the most prolific writers of early civilization, wrote that two pearls were worth 1,875,000 ounces of fine silver. The conversion to today's currency would put the price at millions of dollars. Amber became very popular as well, especially over the rein of the infamous Emperor Nero. 

One of the most long lasting additions that Rome gave the jewelry world was the invention of the cameo carving. These carvings most likely began as amulets of the gods or charms for protection, but slowly progressed to become beautiful homages to famous figures, a tradition that has endured through the years to today. 

Rome had interesting rules concerning luxurious dress and ornamentation. Marcus Porcius Cato, a censor of the time, began the regulations against ostentatious dress and overly luxurious fashions. Because of this, the tradition of men wearing very limited jewelry was put in place; often men would only wear a ring. Women wore slightly more jewelry but not to the point that Egyptian or Indian women would. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Art Camp Update: The Art Show

Hey all you campers! Last week our Summer Art Camp program ended but the fun doesn't stop there! Come to the Wauconda Public Library on Saturday the 23rd of August to see select pieces of art made by campers over the summer.

The art displayed will be from all genres of medium and styles of art. We've got paintings, weaving projects, collage, mosaic, 3D art, and much more! On opening night (the 23rd) we will have a little ceremony as we open the show and there will be light refreshment. We hope to see you there to celebrate all the hard work and creativity that went into 2014 Summer Art Camp!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Jewelry of the World: Egypt

Egypt was the birthplace to one of the first dynasties in the world. The Nile River created a paradise of wealth, power, and beauty. The area wasn't only good for fertile land and trade; it was rich with gold. This gold became the center of Egyptian jewelry design.


Gold became the perfect metal for jewelry design in Egypt; it was soft and easy to shape into incredible designs. Fine workmanship with gold became demanded by nobles and the Pharaohs. The fame of Egyptian gold work was highly valued throughout the ancient world from Rome to Turkey.

Other precious metals would be imported from surrounding areas. Lapis Lazuli was often sought after. Semiprecious stones would be inlaid into the gold to create beautiful mosaics in necklaces, bracelets, and belts. Often, colored glass was preferred over gems as they were much harder to work with. Although, softer semiprecious stones were used extensively. Blue was the royal color of Egypt and Lapis Lazuli was often sought after.


Often jewelry held a religious significance. Gems would be carved into sacred symbols like eagles and scarab beetles. Jewelry was used in religious ceremonies and became a necessary part of the religious cast.

Jewelry was usually worn by both men and women. As well as being connected to religion and wealth, jewelry was often simply worn aesthetically. Ancient Egyptians of both genders often wore make up, wigs, and had tattoos to enhance their appearance; jewelry was worn the same way.

One of the most important uses of jewelry in Ancient Egypt was saved for the afterlife. Pharaohs and rich nobles would be buried with their jewelry and other riches for their use in the afterlife. Ancient Egyptians believed that the things buried with their loved ones would travel with them to the world after this one. Pharaohs were often buried with furniture, food, mummified pets, slaves, chariots, and even a boat to ensure they would be as well off in the next world as they were in this one.    

Colors were symbolic in Egyptian jewelry. Each color had a meaning, often connected to religion or superstition. Green often symbolized fertility.

The most recognizable piece of Egyptian jewelry is the pectoral collar. These were vast, semicircular pieces of gold detailed with engravings, gems, glass, and beads. These huge necklaces were often connected by chain or ribbon around the neck and would often need a counter weight to hang down the wearer's back. These collars were decorated copiously and became works of art all on their own.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

New Products!

We have some very cool new products at DreamScapes. First we have these hanging lamps that can be put together to form tons of different shapes and styles.

One of our artists just finished a new batch of soap products! Her home grown lavender and Shea butter soap is to die for and her Pumpkin Body Scrub is spicy!

We have all new pewter charms for sale! Each one is unique and perfect for that little bit of individuality for a special piece of jewelry.

And for the geologists out there, we have mini sets of minerals! Each one comes with a sample size of four or more minerals and an identification key. 

So come stop by and see all the new treats we've got for you! See you then!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jewelry of the World: Russia

Russia's history is full of powerful Czars, bloody revolutions, and cults of personality. But, through all the struggles of Russian history, Russian art has been created. One of the most extravagant styles was that used in jewelry. The complexity and richness of Russian design has set it apart as a unique genre all its own.

Russian jewelry puts a unique focus on precious and semi-precious stones. Gold and silver were used for setting these stones but rarely as the focal point themselves; instead, the stones were paramount. A perfect example is the coronation crown of Catherine the Great. This beautiful piece is made up of five thousand (5,000) diamonds patterned into laurel branches. The crown is continued with two rows of pearls and finally finished with a 400 carat ruby mounted on the top.


The imagery in Russian jewelry, specifically the royal jewels, often mimics natural things. Crowns and tiaras are often styled to look like laurels (an homage to the great Caesar whose name is the root of the title Czar) or wheat. Jewelry could feature small scenes such as bees going to a flower, or simply exotic patterns of flowers made out of jewels.


The other stylistic quality seen in Russian jewelry is the intense pattern work. These patterns are so detailed they often seem like mosaics made out of gems. The pattern work is present in most of the oldest pieces and is believed to be descended from the Byzantine Empire's style of jewelry.


One of the most famous names attached to Russian jewelry is Peter Carl Faberge. Most famous today for Faberge Eggs, in the late 1800s Faberge was the king of the jewelry world. Faberge House created everything from snuff boxes to figurines to jewelry for the royal family and other high profile nobles across Europe. The Eggs, however, are the crown of Faberge's achievements. The Easter Eggs were ordered for the Royal Family for 32 years. These Eggs took a year or more to make and needed many craftsmen for each Egg. Faberge had complete creative freedom with the design of each Egg and the surprises it holds. These Eggs each had some sort of surprise in each design. Some would utilize clockwork to move pieces, others followed the tradition of matryoshka (stacking dolls) by having different things hidden within the eggs. The most expensive of these Eggs was almost 3.5 million American dollars in today's currency. Fifty Eggs were made however only 42 have survived.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ladies' Painting Nights

Looking for a new Girls' Night Out spot? DreamScapes has your number! Make beautiful art with a group of wonderful women. Eat snacks and have a little wine with your chat and paint as you create your own masterpiece. Each lady gets her own canvas and a trained professional guides the group through the chosen painting. Have a lovely time with some friends at DreamScapes, sign up online at our website.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Jewelry of the World: India

India is a country that sometimes seems ageless. It's culture and heritage runs deep in the traditions of its people and the aesthetics of Indian clothes, jewelry and architecture. Indian jewelry stands out in its intricate design and the sheer amount that is usually worn. Jewelry has also played a significant role in Indian culture both secular and religious.


India has always been known as a mineral rich country and that is seen through its jewelry. Jewelry is used to decorate beyond the usual western neck, ears, and wrists. Indian decoration goes on to be used on the head, feet, hips, nose, hair, and clothes. This practice of being covered in jewelry has roots in both culture and religion. Jewelry was often the only fail safe a woman had if something happened to her family. The more jewelry she owned the more she could sell in times of desperate need. This kind of adornment might have also sprouted from the Hindu principal of Artha. Artha is the pursuit of wealth and prosperity of married adults for the good of their family. The gaining and wearing of jewelry could certainly be part of Artha.

Indian designs sprout from a reflection of the Hindu belief of the order of the universe or R'ta. Designs are usually repetitious and symmetrical copying the cycle of life, dead, and rebirth. But beyond that frame, jewelry becomes elaborate and beautiful simply for the existence of the beauty itself. Etched gems have been found that have etching and designs on the reverse side that would've been hidden by the setting. This is a perfect example of beauty for beauty's sake.

Gold is a focal point of Indian culture and jewelry. Gold is prominent in the Hindu creation myth and the great creator god, Brahma, was born out of gold. Because of its mythical origins, gold has a great value in Indian society, and became the most used metal in jewelry. India as a country has been calculated to contain over 11,000 tonnes of gold. Gold is a symbol of purity in Indian culture.