Custom Design, Design Series

Finding the Inspiration for 50+ original design series’

Q: Since opening the gallery in 1987, you’ve created over 50 original series.

How have you maintained your source for inspiration to create thousands of original pieces of jewelry?

Eve: I’ve learned to listen thoughtfully to my inspiration.  It is best described as a surge, a stream flowing through me. It is ongoing: wherever inspiration rests, and which vision speaks the loudest is the one I must pay attention to.  For me, there are three central themes where the vision and ideas evolve from… and into.

antiquities series necklace by eve j alfille
Antiquities Series Necklace

1. The Passage of Time. History with a capital H and history which is personal, with a small h.  This theme meditates upon symbols found in ancient times, and sometimes borrows proportions from classical, Medieval or Renaissance architecture.  The inspiration is a moment in time in (H)(h)istory.

Such are the series Antiquities (1990), Acanthus (1999), Asia (2003) and Signs of Civilization (2009), as well as earlier series such as Pompeii (1987), Age of Bronze (1988),
Aegypta Capta (1989), or Cuneiform (1999).

2. Nature. We live with nature and from nature. From the patterns in which leaves arrange themselves on a branch we learn something about symmetry and asymmetry. Memories are refracted through the frost on a windowpane, or in what is found under a withered leaf.

Tradewinds Series Earrings by Eve J. Alfille

Nature is expressed in the series Crown of Leaves (2001) , Eau de vie (2010), and Au fond des choses (2010) as well as Dragonfly Wing (1986), Monet’s Pond (1988), Les Floralies (1993), Orpheus Descending (1994), Marshes and Reeds (1995), Candide’s Garden (1998), Metamorphosis (1998), Trade Winds (2000), Stone Flower (2002), Les petits fruits (2003), Dans le sous bois (2004), Entomology 101 (2006) and Umbel and Corymb (2007).  Left: Tradewinds Series Earrings.

3. Dream. Inspired by surrealism, it’s the logic that you can find in dreams: a seemingly random juxtaposition of shapes or colors creates unexpected magic. Think of Magritte, think of De Chirico.. the composition suggests something more than the sum total of the whole.

The series that best reflects the dream theme,and reaches deepest into the subconscious, hands down, for me is No Forwarding Address (2005). Also Dancing under the Stars (2011), Objective Correlative (2008) and Sea of Sargasso (2006) and the earlier Flotsam and Jetsam (1984) .

Dream Series Pendant by Eve J Alfille
Dream Series Pendant

But we also dream lightly, perhaps as the night wanes, and those are the inspirations for such as the original Dream Series (1980), Faces of the Moon (1996), Clair de lune (2000), Lunar Garden (2001), Jet d’eau (2002), Etoile filante (2004), Ombre et lumiere (2005), Raining at Rosehill (2009), and First Light (2011)

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Design Series

Fine Jewelry of Eau de Vie

Guests at the Exhibit Party enjoy wine, good food and fine wine!

Design Series

Interview with Eve J Alfille on New Jewelry Series

Eau de Vie necklace

Q: Eve, thank you for taking the time to talk to us about your inspiration for the new Series, ‘Eau de Vie’. Creating a Series with water as an influence is not new for you. What experiences brought you back to water?

Eve: The first time I went to Santa Fe, I stayed with a friend and had an opportunity to experience everyday life.  She had a garden that was recreated from her time spent in Chicago. She was growing strawberries and apple trees and I was amazed because it takes a lot of water to grow these special fruits.  As I looked at the lush plants, I realized the contrast and that nature wouldn’t comply.

Q: What does water mean to you?

Eve: Water to me is a very powerful symbol…a symbol of celebration. I will confess…I am a very

Eau de Vie
Eau de Vie

poor drinker. Anytime I have a glass of wine, I quickly fall asleep. However, there was one time when I lived in Geneva, Switzerland, I was invited on a Sunday to a Swiss celebration that started at noon and lasted until six o’clock in the evening. There were many courses of delightful food, each accompanied by a special wine and spirits. At the end of the meal, we would go for a walk before coming back for supper.  There were about ten to twelve empty wine bottles on the table. I did not contribute to the empty bottles as I knew I wouldn’t make it through the meal.

After the meal, the host would bring out a cob web covered bottle from the cellar. Obviously it was something special.  It was a simple, yet beautiful bottle. By its appearance, it was evident it had history.

The bottle and the contents were clear, it looked like water. It was distilled Eau de Vie, which is an alcohol from fruit. One bottle I clearly remember had a pear that grew inside. It is very interesting and beautiful to see. What they would do is put the bottle over the bud and tie it to the tree. You can imagine the sight of empty bottles hanging from a pear tree!

As the sun and rain continue to help the bud grow into fruit, the pear ripens to full size inside the bottle.

Q:  That this was one spirit you tasted. What was the experience like?

Eve: It is the most exquisite liquor I have ever tasted. To my surprise, I didn’t have any problem drinking the liquor. It is extremely strong, powerful distilled spirits. It has a delicate aroma and is pure.

In the French language, all these distilled spirits of nature are called ‘Eau de Vie’. Eau de Vie literally means water of life and is associated with celebration. The host of the meal shares this very special gift with their guests. These spirits are rare and take years to mature.  As you can imagine it is also very expensive.

Q:  Why would spirits be called water of life?

Eve:  In many parts of the world, distilled spirits are associated with celebration.  The object is not to lose yourself in the drink but to be in common with a circle of close friends to celebrate. During the course of the long meal no one over indulged. The entire meal maintained a wonderful glow.

That’s when I knew Eau de Vie was a way of celebrating. It’s like ‘super’ water.

Poppies in the Fields of France

Q:  Your experiences as a child are many times reflected in your creations. Did you draw upon your European childhood?

Eve:  Yes, when I was a small child, 4 to 8 years old during WWII, we spent a number of years in the countryside pretending to be peasants. I lived close to the land as it was my constant companion. I watched the renewal of spring, thick heavy drops drenching the land and within days everything around exploded in verdant growth. I remember the fields in France blooming with bright red poppies and beautiful bachelor’s buttons It was then I realized water’s power.

But water can also be highly destructive. My friend Cato went to New Orleans after Katrina and took many pictures of the surroundings. To me the swirls and curves of the magnificent iron works represent the enduring strength of the human race, a lasting celebration of the spirit in the face of hostile waters.
Q:  When you were young in France, did you also experience the result of destruction by water?

Iron Fence in New Orleans

A:  No, but when I came to the United States and had my children, we went on a cross country driving trip to the Pacific. I was the navigator and wanted the unique experience, for a European, of seeing the Continental divide. I will not forget the incredible feeling of standing on the very line where the waters part: an elemental realization. I remember drawing closer to Nevada, wondering why the map showed so few towns. To my great amazement, I realized that it was a desert. No water, no life.

The contrast left an indelible imprint on me and generated the Series ‘Eau de Vie’.

Q: Your life experiences continue to intrigue us. We look forward to watching the unveiling of your new Series.