Posts tagged: Michael Coan

The sign of great jewelry

By , November 15, 2013 11:02 pm

When Cole Lopez  lifts up her sleeve, she reveals a hand-forged “cuff,” which shows the astrological positions on the day she was born. “It’s a snapshot of the cosmos at that exact moment,” says the jewelry design alumna. The effect is timeless, mysterious and evocative.

“It’s a lovely use of graphic, lore and craftsmanship,” says Jewelry Design Professor Wendy Yothers.

Cole Lopez’s astrological cuff with a labradorite crystal

Lopez’s cuffs are often made of brass, which, Lopez says, has an association with strength and protection. Her process includes heating, forging, smoothing, oxidizing and cooling, before being fitted for wear. Lopez incorporates largely recycled metals. “Earth preservation is absolutely paramount to me,” she says.

“What’s so wonderful, private and intimate is that it’s a person’s astrological information,” says Michael Coan, Chair of Jewelry Design. “That’s why it’s innately personal and permanent.”

Cole Lopez’s pyramid cuff

In the astrological cuff above, Cole embedded a corked vial of liquid into a resin pyramid. As the wearer moves, bubbles form inside the vial.

Each cuff is made “specifically for the empowerment of it’s owner,” says Lopez. It’s a reminder “of the seat you hold in the sacred rotation of the cosmos.” 

Lopez is apparently the first student to win two awards at the student jewelry show at the FIT Museum, taking second place in both costume and fine jewelry.

Cole Lopez’s astrological bangle

This astrological bangle was created by combining acrylic sheets. The magnification globe is placed over her “12th house,” which, astrologers say, governs collective consciousness and spirituality. 

“Many times a piece of paper can be lost,” says Coan. “This is permanent and may be shown to astrologers around the globe for immediate consultation. They don’t have to make a new one. All the trines and vectors are immediately displayed.”

Cole Lopez astrological cuff fitted to the cosmos

Finally, each cuff is “blessed” with flower essences and Lopez performs a ritual “with the aid of lunar energies.” It is packaged in organic herbs as a final gesture.

“It’s celebrating the uniqueness of astrology and your life — It’s like celebrating a birthright,” says Prof. Coan, “And P.S. you can ask Cole for an appropriate customized gem stone for the center of your personal natal chart cuff.”


To learn more of Ms. Lopez’s creations go to her websiste: or go to: to read Lopez’s herbal suggestions “to use the lunar energies of each month’s new moon phase.”


Photos by Jonathan Jary


Tea Time with Wendy Yothers

By , March 2, 2012 8:18 pm

Wendy Yothers’ silver and engraved glass, “Baba Yagga’s Teapots for brewing Light and Dark Spells,” were deemed bewitching enough to join the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s permanent collection last year.  Now the FIT professor’s latest teapot designs will be on exhibit at the Hot Tea Bienniale, an invitation only exhibit  at the Craft Alliance in St. Louis, March 9-April 22. 

“Rain Forest Teapot,” made of rain forest woods and deer antlers. 

“She’s just phenomenal. She’s a sculptor and an artist. Her teapots are beautiful. They’re contemporary realization of ancient skills,” says FIT Jewelry Design Chair Michael Coan”

Artists are chosen for the Hot Tea Bienniale with a two-year lead time–plenty of time for inspiration to brew.  “I loved re-thinking teapots and tea to create new work, ” says Yothers. “Everything I make is inspired by its function–its use in daily human society.”

“Teapot 1″ for the Hot Tea Bienniale in St. Louis

Yothers hasn’t made tea in her teapots, but says they are all “tea-worthy.”  “Most people would rather look at them than use them.” Her own preference is  for a good cup of fresh brewed tea. But “tea bags are fine if that’s what’s available,” she says.

“Teapot 2″ for the Teapot Biennial in St. Louis

Yothers’ pair of tea caddys she made for the Bienniale were constructed from camoe engraved glass, silver, a pearl, and a black Tahitian pearl. 

“Teapots for brewing Light and Dark Spells,” in the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Yothers, a silversmith by trade, makes, designs, and restores teapots.  “It’s not my first rodeo with tea vessels, sacred and profane,” she says.

Images used with permission


Going for gold, pearls, the runway and more

By , February 8, 2012 4:18 pm

In honor of Carolee’s 40th anniversary, the high-fashion jewelry house has sponsored a competition exclusively for FIT Jewelry Design students. The on-going, 20-week competition that began in September, 2011 is nearing completion.  Tomorrow, 12 semi-finalists will be chosen.

“I’m always amazed how my students come through, even the shyest,” says Leila Tai Shenkin, professor of Jewelry Design in charge of the contest.”

The competition will culminate with five winners being named, one in each of four categories — pearl, metal, social occasion and fashion. The fifth winner will be a People’s Choice Award, selected through on-line voting.  Each winner will receive $1,000. The designs will be manufactured by Carolee and sold at Carolee counters around the world. They will also be displayed in windows at Bloomingdale’s in September.

This marks the first competition Carolee has had with FIT. “It’s an exciting competition by a company that has a long associations with FIT Jewelry Department,” says Chair Michael Coan.

The competition’s stages align with Professor Shenkin’s way of teaching: “I encourage students to imagine their design based on a theme. They then demonstrate ways to manufacture such a piece, making necessary changes. The students were well prepared for Carolee team, and the team was prepared for us from their first visit to FIT for the initial critique.”

To view videos of the competition’s progress follow the link to the  Jewelry Design webpage.


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