Mud Ball - Holding Place

Materials: copper, brass, clay, flocking
Dimensions: 4.5” x 3.5” x 3.5”;

Reliquary for a mud ball harvested from a third grade playground and smuggled home in a lunch bag.

Photo credit: Becky McDonah

Becky McDonah
Millersville, Pennsylvania. USA

My fascination with the historic reliquary form for its purpose and ability to elaborately protect and display venerated objects for public exhibition and procession ties into issues I am exploring dealing with the importance of position, presentation and access (or limited access) to what is contained. My intention is to initiate contemplation that perhaps leads to elevation or endearment of the ordinary. The container can draw attention to, place importance upon, and affect the perception of the simplest of objects. Striving to heighten awareness of habitual performances, products and surroundings, I use extensive ornamentation to glorify symbolic contents. This consideration of the supposedly little things can open one’s mind to the larger picture of cultural practices and ideals on a global, national, regional or personal level.

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.