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Jeweler Creates Artwork for the Body


Most of us put on our jewelry without a thought about who created it or why the artist chose those particular materials and shapes. Nor do we particularly think of the jeweler as an artist.

But that is definitely not the case when one wears something fashioned by Brenda Sorrelles, the founder of Izabeau Jewelry. Her creations are things born of an artist's mind and spirit.

Sorrelles has designed costume jewelry for about 10 years. A poet, photographer, carver and painter, she started producing collections of earrings, necklaces and others to support her photography.

"It started to take up all my time," Sorrelles said. "And I realized that people would spend more money more often for art they could wear."

When asked what brought her to jewelry, she laughed. "I think I was a jewelry thief in another life. Or maybe it's the magpie in me. I love sparkles."

Sorrelles continued, "When I was a child, I'd go to work with my father, who owned a foreign car garage on Williams Street in Atlanta. I played in the gravel lot where there were all these broken bits of colored glass. I called them my treasures. And my mom owned lots of great 40's and 50's jewelry."

She draws some of her inspiration from ancient and not-so-ancient cultures and religions. "I think of myself as an archaeologist," Sorrelles said.

One necklace might look like a fine string of rosary beads, while another calls to mind Mayan or Incan ceremonial pieces. Still others inspire flights of fancy to classic tales like Scheherazade.

The archaeologist in her can be found in the names she gives some of her collections -- for example, Burnt Offerings, made of darkened metal and deep red jewels.

"I called it Burnt Offerings for many reasons. Mainly because I took the metal and darkened it by burning. I kept thinking of a war maybe 500 years ago and what might survive. What you might find in the ruins of a burned out church. The metal would tarnish, but not burn."

According to Sorrelles, the bright jewels against the dark metal offer hope in the midst of destruction.

Sorrelles credits her desire to imbue a spiritual quality into her work as the thing that keeps her work fresh. "I make those ear cuffs that were made popular by DS9. [Star Trek: Deep Space Nine] I've made over a thousand and have never duplicated one."

Recently, Sorrelles turned her attention to wall pieces and more writing, linking each piece of visual art with a poem or piece of prose. "I wanted to try to reach more people with my art. Right now, it's mostly women who buy my art. Men are less likely to buy the jewelry."

Jenny Buehler