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Monday, July 5, 2010

Cephalon: Wearable Trilobites! (Trilobites in Visual Arts part 1; Triple Trilobite Special!)

The artist Jeanette M. Norman designs trilobitic wearable art.
Welcome again to the Triple Trilobite Special at the Geology in Art webzine. As you can understand from the title, I found so many examples of trilobite-inspired artworks...that I had to sub-divide the visual arts issue! This issue is entirely dedicated to 'wearable trilobites'. 'What are they?' you might ask. The answer is in the following lines!
Since Paleolithic times, humans considered fossil trilobites as prized objects of beauty and curiosity. Intriguingly, trilobites make their first appearance in art as items of personal adornment. In fact, the oldest ‘trilobitic art’ is the drilled trilobite that has been found in a 15 000 year old archeological site, hence named La Grotte du Trilobite (French for 'the Trilobite’s Cave'). This trilobite shows that fossils are subject of ancient interest for humans, as the trilobite is coming from geologic units very distant from the archeological site. On the other side of the ocean, the Ute Indians of Utah wore trilobites as amulets. These were known as Pachavee (“little water bugs”). Still nowadays, trilobites plays a role in jewelry, and in many cases “trilobitic jewels” meet the concept of wearable art, advanced in the 1900s by the Danish silversmith Georg Jensen. In some cases the artists include real fossils, in other cases they prefer sculpted elements (see pictures below).

Badali Jewelry dedicated designed many trilobite-inspired pieces, such as rings, necklaces and earrings.

"Ancient life" features an ammonite, a sea scorpion and a (small) trilobite. The jewel was awarded second place in the 2005 Saul Bell Design Award Competition.

A trilobite necklace, casted directly from the sedimentary record!

Polymer clay, Czech glass, Japanese laser-cut beads: these are only some of the materials used by Jeanette M. Norman to design her trilobitic fantasies.

Steampunk jewelrly meets trilobites: watch the process for realizing this works of art at Jake Von Slatt's blog! The artwork was inspired by the comic character Girl Genius, who wears a trilobitic jewel.

“Wearable trilobites” are not only jewels. Indeed these extinct arthropods are also found on Hannah Ingalls’ hats and on various kind of footwear. Nevertheless, the nearer "wearable trilobites" are represented by body art. For instance, the GeoArtist Glendon Mellow designed a flying trilobite tattoo for himself.  Are you curious? I will start from him in the next issue dedicated to trilobites in visual arts! 
Hannah Ingall's hat. More "little purls of wisdom" here.


Trilobitic body art: images from the Tucson Show and the Discover magazine Blog. The last two are science celebrities: they are the philosopher of science Michael Ruse and the artist Glendon Mellow. We will meet Glendon in the next issue!

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