Maker: Tracey Beale
Maker: Tracey Beale
Back then, Beale was going through a particularly rough time and was at a crossroads in her life. “In some ways, I felt like that glass on the ground; I felt a bit shattered,” she says. She knew she wanted to do something with that glass, so she scooped up as much as she could. The glass, and her resulting Geist necklace collection which features it, became a kind of metaphor. “Sometimes life breaks us in order to make us more beautiful,” she says.
Beale created the bezels for Geist pieces by shaping them by hand from copper and having them cast in brass. When making the pieces, she works across several pendants at once while listening to trip-hop or free jazz. She lays out the bezels, dumps all of the glass she has onto the same table along with sheets of 24-karat gold leaf, and mixes and pours resin into each bezel. Using tweezers, she adds the gold leaf and glass to the resin in a stream-of-consciousness process, shifting the glass and gold leaf until it feels right. “The music provides the rhythm for me to work,” says Beale, who is also a vocalist in Konjur Collective, a free jazz band and music collective. “It’s a vibe. I just go with the flow.”
Beale considers her collections, which have appeared at ACC marketplace events, “spirit designed”: the story or meaning is as important an element as the copper, gold, and brass metals she works with. The Zeit collection’s spirals, for instance, represent a kind of “spiritual imprint of our times,” and the pieces are meant to be worn as protection from erupting chaos. For Beale, “chaos comes about because some level of truth is trying to bubble up to the surface.”
Much like the jewelry of ancient Egypt, a source of inspiration for Beale and where jewelry was also believed to be spiritually charged, the shapes she incorporates into her collections each have their own meaning. Circles are inspired by the cycles of nature, for example, and rectangles are for grounding. Beale was also inspired by the Maasai and Fulani women she learned about in a college anthropology class, where she came to the realization that jewelry isn’t just ornamental but also has social meaning. She felt a connection between the earrings of the Fulani women and the bamboo earrings popular among Black women in the ’80s and ’90s, which also conveyed a sense of status and self.
In addition to adornment for the body, Beale creates what she considers jewelry for the house: custom-designed copper wall art made from wooden frames or upcycled furniture that she wraps in hand-hammered copper sheets and flame paints. To Beale, the finished large works call to mind horizons and vistas.
Knowing that her work has greater meaning is the underbelly of Beale’s jewelry practice, and she hopes her clients use her work as talismans for seeking their own truth. “I hope someone buys my work and that it gets passed down in terms of grandkids and great-grandkids, that it serves as some sort of legacy.”
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