Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

History Well-Done

bakery-frescoeHave you ever left something in the oven for a little too long? Maybe you and your toaster don’t always exactly agree on what “well done” entails. If you were a homeowner in Pompeii of 79 A.D., an oven accidentally left on would certainly be the least of your problems…but the results produced are surprisingly familiar!

Almost 2,000 years following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which left the vacation-town of Pompeii buried beneath a mass of volcanic detritus, an extremely burned, charred, and blackened, yet perfectly preserved loaf of bread was discovered. Against all odds, it had “survived” right where it had been carefully laid inside a Pompeiian oven by a doomed baker centuries before. Frozen in time as a completely cooked-through lump of carbon, the intricate details of the bread dough have been preserved for the amazement and inspection of future generations of glutenphiles. Modern visitors to Pompeii can see the intricate knots of dough, which still display such details as indentations running round the circumference of each loaf– these have been hypothesized by modern bakers to mark the location of a string tied round the bread before baking in order to make it easier to carry home.

RA-breadstamp-2810c-300x192A bread stamp also marks the surface of each bread loaf, commonly marking both who baked it, as well as to which hungry citizen it was assigned. At this point in history, a baker was a very prestigious and peculiar position: unlike most trades, they were freemen and recognized as Roman citizens, and had to be government-recognized members of a bakers’ guild in order to produce and sell their trade. The upside of being a recognized Collegium baker was that it meant you were a baker for life, but on the other side of the same token, were also forbidden for unknown reasons from fraternizing with “comedians and gladiators,” and were not permitted to attend the amphitheater.

A carbonized loaf from the excavated town of Pompeii.
“You’re Toast!” blackened sterling silver earrings by Eve Alfillé. Photo Credit: Matt Arden.

An entire 81 loaves of this kind were discovered in a bakery of the neighboring town Herculaneum, which was also decimated by the volcanic blast. Roman bread such as this was created en masse using animal-powered machinery for kneading the yeasty, delicious bread, out of what would likely have been buckwheat flour. Only the lucky got to enjoy this bread however, as leaven was only for the upper classes, and the lower classes would likely have made do with a pita-like-bread of the unleavened sort: an unfortunate visual embodiment of where they stood on the totem pole.

“Ancient Grain” earrings by Eve Alfillé. Photo Credit: Matt Arden.

Fortunately, you do not need to be an upper-class Roman citizen to enjoy these bread loaves today. You can either go to Pompeii, as Eve did, and witness these bread formations for yourself. You can follow the recipe, recreated by pastry chef Giorgio Locatelli, and attempt to create your very own (pre-volcano) Pompeiian bread to enjoy…or, you can carry the memory of Pompeii around with you throughout the day by taking home a pair of captivating Pompeii-inspired earrings crafted by Eve Alfillé upon her return from the destroyed city of yesteryear. Regardless of whether your bread is made of sterling silver, blond gold, or a block of pure carbon, you will never have to worry about it getting moldy again!

Design Series

Jazz Age in France

From the Jazz Age Series by Eve J Alfille
From the Jazz Age Series by Eve J Alfille

A fascinating and optimistic time in history when music, art, architecture and society took on a transformation of unconventional ideas while maintaining a sense of elegance. We’re drawn to the breathtaking time of excitement and hopefulness wanting to explore for ourselves these wonderful delicacies.
Music was electric and captivated our senses. Everyone knew of Gershwin, Cole Porter and Maurice Ravel. But it was French entertainers like Ada “Bricktop” Smith and the great Josephine Baker who performed nightly to Paris audiences.  When Jazz arrived, it was overwhelmingly accepted by the Parisians. It allowed people like Josephine Baker to become a star.
Inspirational developments included Art Deco design and architecture. The Art Deco aesthetic was wonderfully sleek and streamlined with symmetrical and geometric designs. It’s character was seen in everything from furniture, fashion to jewelry.
As a society, the sense of excitement came from freedoms of individuality such as hand holding, free flowing dresses and beautiful jewelry. It gave permission to define who you want to be.

Watch a wonderful video of France in the 1920’s.

Design Series

“Jazz Age” Eve J Alfille’s New Jewelry Series

"Jazz Age" New Jewelry Series
“Jazz Age” New Jewelry Series

Welcome to Eve J Alfille Gallery & Studio’s new jewelry series, “Jazz Age”. Take a moment to explore the thoughts, inspirations and creations of the Artist’s Statement.

In French schools, the recent past is not taught: too fresh to be history, it may revive controversy. So my high school classes learned all about Versailles and the Baroque style, but nothing about Art Deco, or jazz. Though ‘The Jazz Age’ usually denotes a period in the late 1920’s, its great innovations in style extended long past the 1929 crash. The elegance of Art Deco, coupled with its practicality and relative simplicity, “suggesting better times”, still speaks to us today.

As a child, what had impressed me was the wild romanticism of Art Nouveau, the Paris Metro entrances, the soaring street lights with their sweeping curves. On the other hand, I had nothing but contempt for my parents’ 1940’s furniture, with their restrained, stylized curves, the symmetry and repetition of the little corner motifs, chevrons carved and inlaid in contrasting wood. A frisson ran down my spine recently when, in a 2012 auction catalog I spied those exact armchairs, an Art Deco exemplar, quoted for an extremely handsome sum! How I wish I

"Jazz Age" Featured Earrings and Necklace
“Jazz Age” Featured Earrings and Necklace

had them now!

We revere the elegance of this style: ever modern, it can be treated sumptuously with rare materials, like the inlaid Jean Dunand screen I almost bought in Switzerland in 1981, when we spent a couple of years in Geneva, and my mother-in-law’s diamond brooch. But it had also formed a background of our growing years in its more humble interpretations, the facades of the movie theaters in our small towns, the old Philco radios with the pleated wood cases, the streamline toasters of our early years.

I love the functionality, the stylishness: Art Deco is above all a way of seeing, it looks at the pure geometry of everyday objects, the sun, fountains, ocean liners, the pyramids, and translates them into flat decorative motifs that are at once restrained and joyous! For me, what inspired my current Jazz Age series is the particular duality of the style: how it makes room for both movement and repose, exuberance and severity, inspiration from current times and times past. What other decorative style can throw together speedy trains and ancient pyramids, maybe both in the same piece?

"Jazz Age" pendant
“Jazz Age” pendant

In this series, I have to remind myself to proceed past restraint: it’s permitted to be joyous, even with nothing but the black, white and gray diamonds and pearls! And no problem letting rubies in, just remember to color within the lines! So we will work from both ends, the pastels of moonstones, Ceylon sapphires and opals, and the glorious reds, oranges and yellows of jades, citrines, topaz and rubies. I design, hearing the jazz of Coltrane and Davis, the coolness and the splendor alternating. White gold and palladium for coolness, blush gold for delicacy, all are playing a role in my new Jazz Age series.

Gallery Events

You Are Invited to a Glamour Party – March 24

Join Eve J Alfille Gallery and Studio, Salon Lotus and gigi Bottega on Saturday, March 24 from 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.  Sign up now!

Be a glamour star for the day!  Join Eve J Alfille Gallery for a one-of-a-kind afternoon of beauty. Start by making your reservations by calling 847-869-7920. Here’s what you can expect on your gorgeous day!

Glamour Party with Jewelry, Hair and Couture
Glamour Party with Jewelry, Hair and Couture
  •  Get spoiled with glamorous styles from Gigi Bottega Boutique!
  •  Find out how to style your hair into an exciting new look with Salon Lotus!
  •  Work with Eve selecting the most amazing jewelry to wear: necklace, earrings bracelet, the works!
  •  Put on the finishing touches with a mini-makeover courtesy of Eve’s own Cato Heinz!
  •  Now you are ready for your glamour photo shoot with Matt  Arden, our resident photographer for models and jewelry!

Your glamour day is our gift to you! Bring a friend, or just yourself for a complimentary day of exciting beauty.

All the participating businesses are in downtown Evanston.

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Gallery Events

Change an Old Recipe into Something New! Jewelry Transformations Jan 26, 27, 28

Plate of PearlsTransformations: January 26, 27, 28 

Food and Jewelry: the two most delectable things in life!

Come taste one of Eve’s favorite foods and take away a booklet of her special food recipes while she suggests transformations to make your old

jewels take a new place in your life. Eve’s creative insights will surprise you and allow you to recreate the old to make jewelry you can wear for breakfast with the family AND for dinner at Alinea!

“A recipe holds tradition and stories of years past. As time goes on, we sprinkle our own flavors and passions into the dough we knead.”

Schedule your personal, one-on-one time with Eve now.