Brandi Couvillion tells a story of New Orleans in her contemporary and historically inspired jewelry.
The artist: A New Orleans native, Couvillion graduated from Tulane University and studied woodworking and jewelry at the Penland (NC) School of Craft and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine.
Later, while working as the CFO for a New Orleans non-profit historic preservation center for six years, she was involved in a 10-year restoration of her own Victorian-era home in the Lower Garden District.
The home renovation also included the creation of artist housing and studio spaces for musicians and visual artists.The project further fueled her passion for the city, maps and historical architecture and inspired her mixed media art and jewelry.
The studio: Couvillion started making her jewelry in 2005 in New Orleans. She also has a satellite studio in Washington, DC.
What’s popular: The Crescent City Fluidity Collection ($85 to $135). The subtle, lightweight pieces, showcase the Mississippi River’s sultry curves as the waterway flows through the city. The curve of the river was one of the main reasons for the location of the city more than 300 years ago.
Also: The Seignouret-Brulatour Collection ($75 to $325) in brass and sterling silver. The collection is based on architectural details, such as wrought iron and decorative plasterwork from a French Quarter building repurposed into a state of the art museum space.
Collectors like: The Bayou Collection, which includes a slim bangle as well as a wider cuff in sterling silver, brass, and copper ($95 to $325). Each is unique with different hand-painted patinas and hammer work.
Universal favorite: The Mississippi River cuff bracelet (from Baton Rouge to New Orleans and out through the delta in 1863). Prices range from $175 to $350, depending on the metal and detail.
Recent work: Her most recent jewelry and accessories, such as a silk scarf and pocket square, are inspired by architectural details. They include decorative wrought iron and plasterwork, as well as historic maps and imagery, some dating from as early as the 1700s and culled from archives.
Fun or unusual requests: Recently crafted pieces for bridesmaids’ gifts, each with a different metal to suit the wearer’s personal style.
The process: From raw sheets of metal, she uses an intensive, handcrafted process involving heat image transfers, various etchants, patinas and polishes.
Big break: Asked seven years ago to be a juried artist in the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which exposed her to international collectors.
Also special: Because Couvillion had attended the event since she was in a stroller when members of her family played music there. Now she was a part of the magic.
Claim to fame: Crafted a line of jewelry, plus the scarf and pocket squares to coincide with The National Gallery of Art’s photography exhibit, which was focusing on photography east of the Mississippi River from the 1800s.
What’s new: Experimenting with cyanotypes (a photographic printing process from the 1800s) while she spends time in Washington, D.C. researching the area’s gridded streets and diagonal avenues that connect buildings and spaces.
Where to buy: www.bcouvillion.com
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