Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Devil and Paganini

Inspired by a biographical essay of the great Nicolo Paganini, published in The Musician, Vol. XI, No. 5, May, 1906, I present a haunting stickpin of hand wrought steel, with a gorgeous skull hand carved in Bali. These skulls were not used as jewelry, but as some sort of ritual item, and prior to the ban, were carved of ivory. Now, buffalo bone is used. This particular skull was made prior to the advent of electrical tools for carving. The artisanship is so fine and true it transcends simple frightfulness! So true also of the virtuosity of the greatest violinist to have lived, born impoverished, a prodigy, with a turbid history mixed of fatal love, accursed health, imprisonment, and sublime genius.

I have kept the form simple and straightforward to show off the fine carving. The pin has the feel of a time when a jabot billowed at the neck of a gentleman. It could work as well now as a shawl clasp, for the time traveler's cravat, or an ornament for the adventurous lady.

And just a note about the word "forged" -- in metalworking terms that word means a piece has been worked red hot, hence from the forge, typically iron or steel. This piece was annealed but worked cold, hence, "hand wrought" or "cold forged" would be the applicable term. The taper of the pin was hammered, rather than filed, to add strength and a certain gravitas to the workmanship.

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