Friday, December 3, 2010

Whimsical jewelry by Cynthia Chuang and Erh-Ping Tsai

Artists Cynthia Chuang and Erh-Ping Tsai of Jewelry 10 create brilliant jewelry in their Long Island studio. Flappers, skippers, feathery creatures, land roamers, and many other colorful, whimsical creatures come from their kilns to the amusement and admiration of all.

Lizard by Cynthia Chuang and Erh-Ping Tsai of Jewelry 10
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht

Cynthia and Erh-Ping were college sweethearts. They met at the National Taiwan Academy of Arts while studying ceramics. They have both arrived to New York to study at Parsons The New School for Design. There could not have been a biggest contrast between their technically rigorous Taiwan training and the mind stretching approach at Parsons. Cynthia and Erh-Ping were the lucky recipients of the benefits of both systems. They have made New York a permanent home, eventually settling in Locust Valley.

Cynthia Chuang with a lizard
on her shoulder
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Looking at their awesome creations, perfectly finished, almost effortless, it is difficult to imagine the amount of work going into each piece. Every item is made of porcelain clay inlays; the dyed clays make the design. Considering the small size of each element, great precision is required in assembling the tiny patterns. Imagine putting together a miniature checkerboard.

Porcelain parts are first bisque fired and then fired with a clear glaze over them. Some colors require multiple firing to different temperatures, for instance, the cheerful red ladybugs featured below require up to 5 firings. Every firing may take from 5 to 10 hours. Metal parts are attached at the end. There are many things that can go wrong in the process - the clay may be inconsistent, the colors may bleed, a piece may explode inside the kiln, the opening for the metal part may glaze over.

Ladybugs by Jewelry 10
Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Overcoming the technical challenges are only a part of the creative process. Design is even more difficult. It takes an experienced eye to start with a nature's small critter and turn it into an eye catching and interesting piece of jewelry. Countless hours of design and experimentation are spent on this stage.

I must say that after learning about their technology and the creative process I have gained even greater appreciation for the work of the couple and I was already an admirer! Jewelry 10 has a steady following with collectors picking their favorite pieces throughout the years.

The couple's website includes a very interesting section "The Way We Were" describing the stages of their artistic development. The site also displays what the future may bring - the couple is experimenting with metal as a creative medium.

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