Asphalt Pendant 2

(Click on an image to enlarge it.)

May, 2015
Asphalt, sterling silver, red brass, and 1-72 hex head machine screws.
2.7cm diameter x 4.6cm tall

This was one of three older pieces that made their way into my thesis; originally this was part of my thesis proposal. The design for this piece came to me one sleep deprived meeting where I was drawing in my sketchbook to stay awake. I started to think about "bullet" cabochons, and how they looked like tiny plum-bobs. The following is a section of the written thesis which relates to this necklace:

Much of my work revolves around a study of value as I see it: I use materials which I value for subjective reasons which fit into my own esoteric world view. This necklace came about when I decided that it was necessary to also step outside what I consider valuable and look at things from a more objective point of view. After some consideration, asphalt was chosen to represent this viewpoint as it is an objectively useful, yet woefully underappreciated material. As stated earlier, asphalt is inexpensive to produce and incredibly easy to recycle, which makes it perfect for much of the infrastructure within this country. It is most notably used to pave roads—and if my brief excursion into Roman history has taught me anything, it is that roads are an incredibly vital part of society as we know it, providing us with commerce, transit, emergency service, and a greater degree of interconnectivity.

These factors put Asphalt in curious position: its abundance, ease of manufacturing, and efficient recyclability rate make it worth next to nothing in terms of raw monetary value, however its impact upon our way of life makes it almost priceless. This necklace attempts to draw attention to these facts through the language of ornamentation and jewelry’s wearable nature. Finding some asphalt to shape was easy enough, I just went outside and walked around until I found a piece of pavement that had come loose. I then shaped it and polished it into an enticing opal-like gem, and framed it within a mounting which heavily borrows its aesthetic the industrial machinery that this material is so often associated with. This “machine aesthetic” is found in places where function is more important than form, and efficiency is critical. This relationship between the material and the aesthetic of the mounting further reinforce the pragmatic nature of the material, and creates a stylized yet visually engaging object which celebrates something astonishingly useful, rather than a symbol of status. Asphalt makes an appropriate substitute for a gemstone in this way.