From May 2009

Chain Maille…this kind won’t bring you bad luck.

Chain Maille Chandelier Earring Rendering by Joana Miranda
Chain Maille Chandelier Earring Rendering by Joana Miranda

Chandelier earrings are one of the big trends in jewelry this season.

And…

The economy is at its worst since the 1930s.

I decided to embrace both facts and designed these earrings featuring the same kind of chain maille that was popular in ladies coin purses of the 20s and 30s.   While historians find it hard to imagine what woman carried in these small purses, my guess is that the few coins that were to be had at that time were treasured…proof that good taste and a sense of style are not limited by money.

What do Camille Saint-Saëns, Concrete and Cognac Diamonds have in common?

This weekend at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra we are performing Camille Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 5, “The Egyptian”, with French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet.  During the rehearsals I’ve been captivated not only by Mr. Thibaudet’s pianistic virtuosity and elegant approach, but I confess I haven’t been able to take my eyes off the two dog tags he wears around his neck.  Today I got up the courage to ask him about them.  He was incredibly gracious, and was excited to tell me about them.   Fabricated in concrete and set with cognac diamonds of varying square cuts, these are the work of Thomas Diener of Miles McNeel Design.  You can visit his website here.  Interestingly, Thomas Diener is also a successful classically-trained performing musician, and the music playing in the background on his website is from one of his own performances!

To find out more about the MSO’s performances this weekend with Jean-Yves Thibaudet, please visit the MSO website.

I had a farm in Africa…

Baobab Reflections Pendant rendering by Joana Miranda
Baobab Reflections Pendant rendering by Joana Miranda

Sometimes negative space speaks volumes in design.

My inspiration for this recent rendering was the baobab tree which is found in many parts of Africa.  It is a tree around which many folkloric superstitions exist.  In addition,  the native people make use of every part of the tree.  Its bark, roots, fruit, flowers and leaves are used to provide everything from medicine, water and food, to shelter, clothing, mats, ropes, sacks and even fishing line!

While I don’t have a farm in Africa, my cousin does.   You can read more here about her coffee and dairy farm, the sustainable and ecologically-conscious manner in which the crops are harvested, and order their wonderful award-winning Leopard Forest Coffee from their retail location in Travelers Rest, SC.

Bubble Ring CAD Rendering

Yellow gold and platinum bubble rings by Joana Miranda
Yellow gold and platinum bubble rings by Joana Miranda

I recently completed a course in Rhino CAD (computer aided design) taught by jewelry designer and Adjunct Faculty at Fashion Institute of Technology, Lauren Pipkorn.   Lauren did a great job of teaching our small class of 4.  She managed to keep the 8-hour-long days of class flexible and fun while cramming in just about as much as we could all absorb.  I finished this CAD rendering today and will keep posting my work as I progress.  Thank you, Lauren!

Homage to a Master: Rene Laliqué (1890-1912)

Female Face Pendant in glass, silver, enamel, gold and baroque pearl by Rene Lalique
Female Face Pendant with glass, silver, enamel, gold and baroque pearl by René Lalique - Collection of Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, Portugal

I was recently given the gorgeous book, Rene Laliqué – Exceptional Jewellery 1890-1912 and am thrilled to be adding it to my treasured library of jewelry books.  Recognized as one of the world’s greatest glass makers and jewelry designers of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods, René Lalique was an incredibly creative artist, designer, and technician in all his work.   This book includes gorgeous pictures of his jewelry and glass work, and, for those of you interested in jewelry drawing and rendering, many of his stunning drawings as well.

10,000 hours to success? Why you need to love what you do.

I’ve been enjoying reading Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book, Outliers -The Story of Success.  In this book, Mr. Gladwell examines what lies behind success and looks far beyond the usual perception of successful people as merely products of luck, talent, and ambition.  He shows how an individual’s environment, background, sometimes birth year/birthplace, and opportunity, all play significant roles in determining their chances for success, in addition to their having natural intelligence, aptitude and talent.  More importantly, he concludes, no one has become successful or an expert in their field without a minimum of 10,000 hours of practice.  Experts agree.  Michael Bondanza, a wonderful jeweler says, “It takes at least ten years to get grounded, to gain enough skill and experience to begin to tackle something with real meaning”.

I would add that dedicating that kind of time to one’s craft isn’t possible without possessing true love and passion for it.

Earring Rendering done in 1987 by Joana Miranda (16 at the time)
Earring Rendering done in 1987 by Joana Miranda (16 at the time)

While I’m not sure how close I am to reaching the 10,000 hour mark as a jewelry designer, I did come across this earring “rendering” I did when I was 16 and have put it side by side with a rendering I did in 2006 shortly after having attended the GIA Quick Design Lab in NY.

Fancy Cut Amethyst Pendant Rendering by Joana Miranda
Fancy Cut Amethyst Pendant Rendering by Joana Miranda

All in the family; a tribute to my parents

One of the nice things about having my own blog, is that I can shamelessly promote all the people I admire and care about.   I wanted to dedicate today’s post to my parents who are both musicians and talented artists in their own right.

Meet Gil Miranda, my father:

Home-schooled in his native Portugal, my father entered university at age 16.  He received training in law and began his professional life as a lawyer in Portugal.   However, at the same time he also pursued his love of music and studied for three years privately in Paris with renowned teacher, conductor and composer, Nadia Boulanger.  She was even a guest of honor at my parents’ wedding in Portugal!  In 1975 when I was four, my parents left Portugal for the USA as a result of political unrest from the Communist uprising there.  My father made the decision to move forward in his professional career from that point on in music, and he taught theory and musicianship classes at schools such as Dartmouth College and Oberlin Conservatory up until his retirement in 2001.

16K Yellow Gold Roman Coin Earrings by Gil Miranda
16K Yellow Gold Roman Coin Earrings by Gil Miranda

My father’s hobby has always been jewelry making.  Growing up, I was used to seeing soldering equipment, hearing hammering sounds, and, along with the occasional swear word (always in Portuguese), being summoned into my father’s study to help him retrieve some tiny finding that had jumped up and become buried in the carpet.  I also looked forward to the teeniest boxes under the tree at Christmas because I knew they would contain some new jewelry that he had made especially for me.

I hope you will visit my father’s new website.   He has a beautiful collection of pieces for sale and the website contains many gorgeous pictures of his work from over the years.

Meet Sharon LaRocca Miranda, my mother:

A classically-trained pianist, my mother obtained both her B.M. and M.M. degrees in performance from Northwestern University.  By the time she she was finishing up her undergraduate degree, she had enough money saved up to make her dream of traveling to Europe a reality.  She enrolled in the summer music course taught by Nadia Boulanger at Fountainbleau outside of Paris.  It was there that she met my father and they embarked on their courtship – no small feat since my father’s English was somewhat limited and my mother didn’t speak any Portuguese.  Shortly thereafter, my mom, now married to my father, fully embraced the language and culture and settled into life as a music teacher in Lisbon, Portugal.   Her plucky spirit remained unchanged, though; my mom was probably the first lady in Lisbon to wear pants and she caused many raised eyebrows in the Miranda family as well with her “unusual” baking of things such as cherry pie!

Mary Janes "Footed Mug" by Sharon Miranda
Mary Janes "Footed Mug" by Sharon Miranda

Over the years, while my mother has continued to perform and teach piano, she has explored her love for pottery and now has two pottery studios – one in Oberlin and the other in NH where my parents spend the summers.  Her work is always interesting, often whimsical, and it is all functional.  Please visit her website to see more of her work and for purchasing information.