Articles

Found Object Jewelry: One Artist, Two Approaches                                                                       

Uno Dress Modeled by Megan Pagoda

Uno Dress Modeled by Megan Pagoda

July 10, 2006


San Diego artist Denise J. Bonaimo visualizes the potential art in everyday objects and breathes new life into them.

This left-of-center jewelry designer has a knack for seeing the potential art in everyday objects. Denise J. Bonaimo takes the mundane and makes it extraordinary. When most people look at the plastic pawns from a board game, or a handful of malformed dirt covered antique metal thimbles, do they think “That would make a great bracelet!”? Bonaimo does.

At the start of her professional jewelry career Brooklyn born artist, Bonaimo, found it difficult to stick to one medium or theme. Inspiration was everywhere. She wanted to experiment and explore. She wanted to make jewelry out of everything. “I’m an artist, why limit myself?” Bonaimo reasoned. Fourteen years, and several jewelry collections later, the theme has arisen. The experimental nature of the work has remained. The common thread is creativity.

Real Estate Tycoon Necklace

Real Estate Tycoon Necklace

In 2003 Bonaimo made a necklace out of her mother’s vintage wooden set of Monopoly™ houses and hotels. (left) She drilled each tiny, faded piece; wire wrapped a delicate freshwater pearl to each one and linked them together in an alternating green and red configuration. This kicked off a jewelry collection called The Game Series.

This one-of-a-kind collection includes a wide variety of clever reincarnations of board games, toys and decks of cards.

 

 

Spirograph Necklace

Spirograph Necklace

For some of the jewelry in this collection, the actual pieces from the games are used, set in hand fabricated sterling silver as in the case of the wooden Bingo Marker Rings (right) or wire wrapped and linked like the Uno™ Card Dress. (above) Other times, the artist has cast plastic game pieces into sterling silver: such as the  Spirograph™ pendant. (left)

 

 

 

 

Bingo Rings

Bingo Rings

 

 

The artist admits she finds it relaxing as well as exciting to spend an afternoon “hunting” through San Diego’s many thrift stores and antique shops. “I never get tired of sifting through piles of other people’s once beloved cast-off treasures. The hope of finding another vintage board game keeps me going,”  Bonaimo says.

 

 

Another approach to transforming found objects into art is her Unearthed:Metalcollection. Knowing Bonaimo has a penchant for making art from recycled objects, art collector Donna Bernard presented her with a glorious box of dirt covered small metal objects and fragments. The Ebay seller from Great Britain from whom Donna purchased the treasures, said they were found with a metal detector and very old. Grateful for, but unsure what to do with the gift Bonaimo took a good month contemplating the box of crusty “junk” metal.

Megan Pagoda models Random Neckpiece and Thimble Bracelet

UN:Earthed Metal- Random Necklace and Thimble Bracelet

All these metal objects, with their beautiful naturally occurring green patina, at various stages of decomposition are a cross section of interesting everyday objects: thimbles, fragments of World War II toy soldiers, lead fishing lures, brass hinges, copper buckles, latches, buttons and spoons of various sizes to name a few of the treasures.

When Bonaimo brushed away the crusty, dried soil and filed some of the edges, she was delighted to see how these forgotten objects, buried within the earth for so many years, had been transformed into such beautiful objects. With the use of an acetylene torch, drill bits, saws, hammers, files and shears Bonaimo’s Unearthed:Metal collection was born, or reborn, you could say.

Two People Pendant

Two People Pendant

 

This collection of absolutely unreproducible jewelry includes pieces such as: Random Neckpiece (above right) with copper and gold wire, Time:Less Bracelet with handmade toggle clasp and rings of copper chain mail (complete with handmade stand which features an old  hammer head and nail) (below right) , Two People Necklace (left) made from fragments of  toy soldiers, a lead ball and fishing weight, and the Thimble Bracelet. (above right)

Time:Less Bracelet with Display Stand

Time:Less Bracelet with Display Stand

High resolution photographs available upon request.

Model: Megan Pagoda

Photographer: D30John

 

Time:Less (Detail 4)

Time:Less (Detail )