Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

“Unwrapping” Just Desserts by Eve J. Alfille

The new series will be revealed Saturday, May 5, 2018 from 1:00 p.m – 7:00 p.m. at the Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio, with guests enjoying festive refreshments, live music, winnable prizes, and Evanston-made art jewelry.


 

How We See Sweets

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All jewelry by Eve Alfille.

There are a few things in life that are as universal as they are self-evident: food is one.

We eat to live.

But…wait…what about sweets???

It seems that Nature has explicitly directed that sweet things go directly to the head of the pleasure line, perhaps ahead of all others. And humans acknowledge this by giving immoderate veneration to their desserts, by cosseting them in special decorative vessels, by adorning them to the point of extravagance, by giving them a special place in the processional order of the meal.

We shake our heads when told of the wondrous goings-on at the palace in Versailles: the lineup of waiters, each bearing an ever-higher dessert, the pastry chefs vying for who could create a more teetering ‘pièce montée’ of candied fruits, pastry and fondant.

But hey, just behold the petit-fours at the bakery! Who can say that Versailles isn’t still with us? The unapologetic cuteness, the unnecessary swirls of frosting, the poufs of sweet cream! You know, I just think that desserts, to us, are the jewelery of the meal!

The Jewelry of the Meal

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All jewelry by Eve Alfille.

There is the old rationale for the emergence of jewelry in human culture: originally perhaps as a marker of transcendence, then a talisman for protection, to become a beacon of status. You don’t need jewelry, but it gives you a boost in many ways–it occupies a special place in human cravings, and we expect it to be exquisitely formed.

Well, doesn’t the same go for our sweet indulgences? If it’s your birthday, and an unadorned slab of cake appears; what a disappointment! Here is the sundae I ordered…what, no nuts or cherry on top? If it’s dessert, it must be somehow fancied-up!

True that sugar can appear in main dishes as well, sweet and sour pork or sauces. But this only shows that it is not just the sugar, but the social constructs.

The Power of Sweets

We do not need sweet foods, but they mesmerize us…we idolize them, wrap them in bright foils and frilly skirts, hold them out as rewards, turn to them in consolation, acknowledge them as guilty pleasures. Even use them, sometimes, to trade for personal safety.

Four years of my childhood were spent under war conditions–rationed foods, dark bread, no meat, butter, or sugar. We lived under assumed identities.

My forward-looking mother had somehow managed to stash away a few pieces of wrapped candy: I was told I could have one once a year for my birthday, and you can imagine how I anticipated the little ceremony of unwrapping it and sliding it slowly into my mouth.

But one time, as I was tossing and catching a ball, it veered off, and broke a neighbor’s window. These were the dark years, no telling if the neighbor would be understanding, or report us to the Gestapo. My mother, when she heard, seemed very upset. She immediately went to her special closet, brought out two of the precious candies, wrapped them in a newspaper cone and instructed me directly to take them to the neighbor and make my excuses.

I was furious, and bawling! Me, she only gave me one a year, and here the neighbor would get TWO! And what seven-year old wants to go ‘make excuses’ (i.e. apologize)?!

I don’t remember how the neighbor received the apology–I think my mother ended up going with me, and I felt plenty guilty when I finally understood it could have been a matter of life and death for us.

-Eve J. Alfille


Please send RSVPs to either 847-869-7920 or contact@evejewelry.com. To learn more about Eve Alfille and see more of her works, visit http://www.evejewelry.com.


 

All jewelry by Eve Alfille.

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Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Pleased as Peridot

A sizzling summer stone, the birthstone for August is none other than peridot! These delightful gems are best known for their “olive complexion,” which can be attributed to the fact that they all come from the mineral ‘olivine!’ Peridots are also known to be one of the only gemstones that appear in only one color…in this case, a bright green (though shades can range from brownish-green to the much more common yellow-green.) The most valuable shade is a rich, ‘freshly-mown grass’ shade of green, appropriate for their summery birthstone month!

Eve Alfille’s “Water Nymphs” bracelet: sterling silver, peridot & freshwater pearls. Photo credit: Matt Arden.

The peridot comes from a couple of hot sources, ranging all the way from lava erupting from the bed of the sea, to burning meteorites that have crashed into the Earth from space! Unfortunately, not many celestial peridots make the ‘cut’ for use in jewelry.

Throughout history, these gems have always been a favorite for those with an eye for gems. Unfortunately for Cleopatra, the Cologne Cathedral, and a few others, many of the famous “emerald” collections of antiquity were actually probably peridots as well! The stone has also been associated with the sun since ancient times, continuing the gem’s association with heavenly bodies!

Famous peridot tiara of the Austrian Archduchess Isabelle

The Egyptians, who referred to the peridot as “the gem of the sun” preferred to capture their wild peridot specimens on an island in the Red Sea that has gone by the names Topazios, St. John’s Island, and Zabargad, and legend has it that all of the snakes were driven from it by the Pharoh at the time…possibly a previous incarnation of St. Patrick!

Make sure that you don’t forget to get your fill of the “other” sun stone this summer! We’d be more than happy to help you find your perfect match right here at Eve’s, but hurry…you’ve only got one month to celebrate this beautiful birthstone…waiting too long would be a big peri-don’t!

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Multi-faceted Fighters


Are you living with a gemophobe? Maybe a husband or son who thinks that all precious stones are just hunks of sparkly rock meant to be locked away in a jewelry box or behind a plate of glass in a museum? That person might say that gems can never be fun. Well, that person (despite all odds) has probably not been watching enough TV!

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For the disbelieving diamond-doubter in your life, the cure may lie in the most unlikely of places…just sit them in front of the tube, and tune in to Cartoon Network’s hit show “Steven Universe!” The main characters include the ever-tenacious “Crystal Gems,” a band of gem-powered fighters, thinkers, and fun-havers named Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl. These gems must work together to protect the Earth from evil…and also, raise Steven Universe, the adolescent protagonist of the show who has also inherited his mother’s gem, “Rose Quartz.”

“Steven Universe” creator Rebecca Sugar

Each of these characters have not only inherited names from their constituent stones, but have been known to share their attributes as well. According to show creator Rebecca Sugar (also the first female show creator/director in Cartoon Network history), “I wanted their gems to parallel their personalities. Pearls, being automatically smooth and perfect, Amethyst, [which is] coarse and rough, and I love how raw Garnets are mysterious with just a little bit of red peeking through hidden inside.” Steven, with his rose quartz gem, is also known to possess an unconditional love for all things, as this blush-colored stone is of course the most famous among “love stones.”

Some other minor characters include, but are not limited to, Peridot, Lapis Lazuli, and Jasper. Arguably some of the most fun moments on the show also feature the creation of “gem fusions,” in which two gems will fuse together to create a larger, more powerful gem, which have gone by the names of Malachite, Sugilite (voiced by Nicki Mnaj), Opal, Alexandrite and more.

Steven-Universe-001Now, for your gem nay-sayer, these are gems that would simply refuse to stay put in a dusty jewelry box. These gems are made for fighting, and that’s just what they do…by battling invading aliens, defeating giant monsters, swimming through lava, and saving Steven from the occasional misadventure…enough to keep the most critical mineral mope satisfied. It makes a very promising first step to convincing them that gemstones really CAN be fun (especially when you can wear them!)…or, at the very least, it will keep them occupied while you get to sneak away to enjoy the array of Eve’s glittering, and wearable, gems here at the gallery.

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Green with Envy

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“Sunken Treasure” by Eve Alfillé. Photo credit: Matt Arden.

What sort of emotions are elicited by the word “emerald?” A stunningly saturated color of green could be envisioned. Perhaps the precious gems, commonly held to be among the most valuable in the world, could be called to mind…or one may even be transported to the “Emerald Isle” of Ireland and hear a distant melody of “Danny Boy” playing wistfully in their ears. The emerald is held in such high regard for the serenity that it can bring that Roman historian Pliny the Elder even spoke of the healing power that the gem held for ancient lapidaries who “[had] no better method of restoring their eyes than by looking at the emerald, its soft, green color comforting and removing their weariness and lassitude.”

For such a tranquil stone, it is amazing how it can still hold such power to excite powerful emotion! This gorgeous, green-hued variety of beryl caused quite a stir, for instance, when the notorious conquistador Cortez brought home a supply of emeralds from the ‘New World’ where they existed in abundance. The most magnificent emerald of the hoard was engraved with the words “among those born of women, a greater has not arisen,” which he intended to give to his bride as a fitting wedding present. image2This fortune, however, was perhaps not so fortuitous; historians maintain that the Spanish Queen was so disappointed that she was not the recipient of these gems that she became his enemy for life! The historian Brantôme even claimed that it was a sacrilege to engrave upon the face of any material so beautiful, and Cortez’ perceived comeuppance for this atrocity included the loss of a pearl of unparalleled magnificence, so lovely that he composed “A Beautiful and Incomparable Pearl” in its honor, the loss of this entire horde in a shipwreck, and even the death of King Charles IX of France.

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“Treasures of Ur” by Eve Alfillé. Photo credit: Matt Arden.

Despite this loss of wealth for Cortez, earlier sources had made the obvious mental jump between emeralds and the verdant green of wealth…According to one ancient recipe for tinctura smaragdi, or tincture of emerald,’ “the occult power of the gem was supposed to be greatly increased by engraving on it a proper astrological device. Ancient ‘authorities’ state that ‘men like a merchant, carrying wares to sell, or men seated under a centurian engraved on an emerald, gives wealth and victory, and delivers from evil.’ For any pagan practitioners less interested in the material world and more in the spiritual, simply applying “a hoopoe with the herb-dragon in front, upon beryl, hath the power to summon the water-spirits and force them to speak. It will also call up the dead of your acquaintance, and oblige them to respond to your questions.”

For those of you who are comfortable keeping more of a long-distance friendship with the deceased, but just want to look like Angelina Jolie strutting down the red carpet in magnificent emeralds (her favoriteblog_angelina_jolie_emerald_earrings_oscars), never fear! Emeralds can come from just about anyplace in the world, with the ironic exception of Ireland. A famous Egyptian source known as “Cleopatra’s Mines,” though only slim pickings of emeralds remain there today, were known to have once produced a generous abundance of emeralds that lasted over three thousand years! These mines were likely responsible for the bulk of Rome’s abundance of emeralds during the height of its opulent reign. But, dear reader, rather than turn green with envy at all of these famous gems of the past…why not simply carry home a precious little (or big) emerald of your own?

Still want to know more about emeralds? We hear you! Click over to Eve’s previous post on the May birthstone, Romancing the Stone, to get your gemstone fix!

Design Series, Eve's Insight, Gallery Events

Eve discusses Gems, Color and the Creative Process for “Voyage to Antarctica.”

In anticipation of the gallery’s upcoming exhibit opening party, artist and custom jewelry designer Eve J. Alfillé speaks about the gems, the colors, the creative process and the emotions surrounding her new design series “Voyage to Antarctica.”  RSVP Online for this special gallery event on May 4, 2013.

photos of Antarctica, photo by Paul Alfille
The purest white, and the bluest of sky.

Q. Does the sun have an influence in the creation of the jewelry?

Eve: The sun is a condition of working in Antarctica. There are only a few who have stayed there during the dark days and nights. There is no contrast without the sun.

Q. What emotions do you want collectors, visitors and guests to have when the view the new series ?

Eve: I believe they will feel ‘awe ‘: awe evoked by the beauty, the majesty and power of the experience. It is where humility balances the inspiration and the feeling of omnipotence. Being in ‘awe’ is a pause for reflection.

Q. Were you inspired by any individual gem?

Eve: I’ve always been fascinated by opals and moonstones. An opal is one of the most versatile gems. It could be used as part of a landscape, or like here, an icescape. It’s a place where the imagination can find scenes in Antarctica…reflected. And moonstones capture light in a filtered way, very much the same way ice does.

Night Snow Moon Earrings
“Night, Snow, Moon” earrings. 2 drusy black agate, 2 Brazilian chalcedony, 2 carved oval moonstones set in 18k gold +18k white gold

Q. Let’s talk about the creation process. Once you have the idea, what is the process you go through to make it come alive?

Eve: The process is more about isolating the emotion(s). I wait for years sometimes until I have a specific vision of the colors and shapes I want associated with a particular series, and I won’t release a piece for production until I am completely sure it ‘sings’!

Q. What is the emotion for the new Series?

Eve: Immensity. Solitude (which is different from loneliness). Being able to contemplate life from a very distant perspective.

When I identified where these emotions originated, I realized it was from the pictures I had seen from my son, Paul. Once the emotions and their origin are identified, then I start to see colors, textures and light as if I was standing in Antarctica seeing all the experiences for myself.

Q. What were some of the colors you started to see?

Eve: Pictures don’t really show all of the ‘sun’ colors, so I visualize myself in Antarctica. I begin to feel the experiences of seeing the sun rising and setting and the colors as they appear on the ice, the water and even the few animals that live in the immense space.

Now I can begin to identify the materials that capture the experience.