In the past jewelry was worn as personal adornment, for religious purposes, or to show a person's rank or nobility. People who create jewelry may concentrate on metalworking, gem cutting, or making glass plates. The most common forms of jewelry are necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings. In prehistoric times, these items were made of pebbles, bones, and animal teeth and antlers. After the invention of metalworking, metal and stones could be combined in jewelry pieces.

Iris Sandkühler's jewelry echoes the beaches on which she finds some of the glass she uses. The copper pendants she makes are made through a process called electroforming. These pendants have organic, natural shapes. The chains Sandkühler makes to complement her pendants are delicate and fine and may remind the viewer of moss.

Some of the glass Sandkühler uses is left over from glassblowing. She also collects beach glass. Beach glass is shards of glass worn smooth by the sand and water of the ocean. Sandkühler's settings and chains are made of copper, brass, or sterling. Sandkühler uses a special device called a rectifier for copper electroforming. She also uses pliers to create her chains and polishing wheels to smooth the rough texture of her copper elelctroforming.

For Sandkühler, jewelry making is a meditative process. She is inspired by shards of glass left over from glassblowing or found on the beach. When she works with copper, the elecroforming can be unpredictable and sometimes she spends hours polishing rough areas. Making chains is very time-consuming and repetitive, but Sandkühler finds it relaxing.

Rosalind Ragans, Ph.D., Senior Author
SRA McGraw Hill publishing company. 1998.
Art Connections: Artist Profiles
Level 5 Textbook, Page 47

Iris Sandkühler. Composition in Brown and Gold. 1995. Costume jewelry, copper, brass, glass, and amber. 24-inch length x 3-inch fringe. Private Collection.
Iris Sandkühler. (German). Pyrite Sun Pendant, 1992 7 x 4 inches. Copper, brass, pyrite, sterling, glass, base metal. Photograph: Sandkühler. Private Collection.
The artist, Iris Sandkühler, uses many unusual materials to create jewelry. In Composition in Brown and Gold, she uses recycled jewelry. In the pendant, Pyrite Sun Pendant, she uses a unique process called copper electroforming. This process actually allows a designer to "grow" copper by combining chemical and electrical techniques. Notice how both pieces contain a variety of art elebents yet create the feeling of wholeness.
Compare the use of unity in both pieces of jewelry.
  • What particular shapes do you recognize in each piece of jewelry?
  • Are there any unusual objects in either piece? How do they relate to the work as a whole?
  • What are some similarities and differences in each piece?

SRA McGraw Hill publishing company. 1998.

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