Friday, February 24, 2012

Lego My Jewelry

Couture Jewelry Made From LEGOs

Inspired by haute couture and reclaimed materials, San Francisco-based artist and jewelry designer Emiko Oye has experimented with loads of unconventional mediums – including circuit boards, recycled plastics and scrap metals.

But in 2006, the reware artist stumbled upon an even more unconventional material for her creations – LEGO® building blocks. Since then, Oye has been using the colorful toys to craft couture jewelry inspired by everything from early 20th Century royalty to current designers like Vivianne Westwood.
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"The Duchess," Emiko Oye. 2008. Photo: Christine Dhein
One of Oye’s first ventures into the world of LEGO® jewelry design was for her “My First Royal Jewels” exhibition collection in 2008 – which the artist called a modern-day interpretation of early 20th Century creations from the likes of Harry Winston and Cartier.

Although her LEGO® pieces reflect wealth and luxury, it is the personal connection viewers make with the unique material that keeps Oye interested. “People would see my work, and I could see them kind of go inside their memories and bring out happy moments,” Oye remembered. “People really connected with the material on a personal level…That’s what’s fun for me is the personal story.”

"Queen Margherita," Emiko Oye. 2007. Photo: Christine Dhein
Also included in Oye’s “My First Royal Jewels” collection, this show neckpiece – dubbed “Queen Margherita” – converts into three bracelets, two necklaces and one broach. Oye used coated copper wire, rubber cording, silver and steel in addition to LEGO® pieces to complete the neckpiece.

The initial Royal Jewels collection was created as an interactive installation at the San Francisco Museum of Craft+Design in 2008, where the public was invited to try on a repurposed piece as if it was their own.
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"Dawning," Emiko Oye. 2010. Photo: Emiko Oye
Many of Oye’s pieces are inspired by famous art, including this one modeled after Louise Nevelson’s “Dawn’s Wedding Feast,” a recycled wood installation that debuted in 1959. By expertly crafting LEGO® pieces into unique shapes, Oye transforms the children’s toys into chic and sophisticated statement jewelry fit for a queen.
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"Winter's Brush," Emiko Oye. 2011. Photo: Aura O'Brien Photography
This piece, called “Winter’s Brush,” is currently on display as part of The Art of Seduction exhibit at The Rouse Gallery in Columbia, Md. To evoke a sensual appeal, Oye combined recycled makeup brushes with LEGO® blocks for a look mimicking “The Russian Bride’s Attire,” an 1889 oil painting by Konstantin Makovsky.
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"Dia de los Muertos de Westwood," Emiko Oye. Photo: Christine Dhein
LEGO® blocks aren’t the only materials that inspire Oye. She also creates pieces from other reclaimed materials – like this one made from found jewelry and costume jewelry. This piece – entitled “Dia de las Muertos de Westwood” – was made as a donation for Ethical Metalsmith‘s Radical Jewelry Makeover exhibition in 2008.

In addition to creating showpieces, Oye also launched a ready-to-wear line called emiko-o reware – which includes versatile pieces priced as low as $15. “I really wanted to be accessible to the everyday person as well as making statement pieces in art-type settings,” Oye said of the collection. “These pieces are ready-to-wear for anyone.”
To check out more of Oye’s work and browse her reware collection, head to her online store or Etsy shop.

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