Dental Caries - Holding Place

Materials: Nickel Silver
Dimensions: 4.5" x 3" x 3"

Perforated nickel silver vessel from my series “Studies in Phrenology and Physiognomy”.

Photo credit: Robert Thomas Mullen

Robert Thomas Mullen
Houston, TX. USA

My name is Robert Thomas Mullen. I am originally from Illinois but am currently living in Texas. I received my MFA in Metalsmithing from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and my BFA in Metalsmithing and Photography at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. I’m currently a resident artist at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
Extracted human wisdom teeth inspire my pieces. Two of my great uncles owned one of the largest false tooth manufacturing companies in the Midwest. In this series, I studied the similarities between a person and their extracted wisdom teeth. I compared the physical characteristics of a wisdom tooth and the body that they were extracted from. This type of science is in the fashion of Phrenological and Physiognomical research. I then produced a one-of-a-kind piece for each of the subjects in the study.
I work in silver, gold, diamond, copper, flocking, rubber, resin and the actual teeth themselves. Techniques include granulation, lost-wax casting, raising, stone-setting, rubber mold-making and aura 22. I use photography to accentuate my work. Venues that have shown my work include Velvet da Vinci, Mesa Contemporary Arts, Luke & Eloy Gallery, and Burren College of Art.

These containers and vessels definitely hold their place in the world of stunning art objects as well as in the world of metalsmithing.

Since the dawn of time humans have created containers to hold things that were important to them, from large vessels to hold food and harvests to intimate containers for small precious things. They might hold memories, ashes, medicine, beverage, fruit or food - but all spring from the imagination and skill of the maker. Some have specific religious functions, some are meant for everyday use. When one thinks of a vessel or container the inclination is to think of something with solid walls - yet many of these works involve the exploration of positive and negative space, and the use of negative space to help create the illusion of the wall of the vessel.

As the world’s largest jewelry related internet site, Ganoksin strives to develop exhibitions showcasing work from around the world. This exhibition was open to all metalsmiths, professional and amateur, advanced and beginner. Participants are from The Netherlands, the USA, Canada, Australia, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, Israel, Hong Kong, Colombia, Romania, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia and Denmark. While most of the pieces are by an individual metalsmith, some are collaborations, one of three artists spanning 50 years.

In total 319 artists contributed 729 show pieces for the permanent online exhibition.

Objects in the exhibition include boxes, lockets, urns, ash containers, bowls, wine cups, reliquaries, match holders, vases, teapots, pitchers, sugar bowls, baskets, nests, pillboxes, clutches and a range of sculptural forms. A variety of techniques are showcased covering a wide range of metalsmithing techniques. Materials used include everything from gold and silver to less expensive metals. Ornamentation includes the addition of enamel, chasing and repousse’, gemstones and found objects.

The exhibition was curated by Beth Wicker, President of the North Carolina Society of Goldsmiths in the United States, and Adjunct Instructor at Northeastern Technical College in South Carolina. Director of the exhibition is Hanuman Aspler, founder of The Ganoksin Project, the world’s largest internet jewelry site.