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News and updates from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

New Jewelry Collection Inspired by the Cabaret Theatre at Taliesin West

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation | Oct 23, 2019

Inspired by the light and use of shape in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Cabaret Theatre at Taliesin West, Phoenix artist Jason Catlin created a collection of jewelry using 3D scanning technology. We spoke with him to learn more about his process and what inspires him about Wright’s work.

Tell us a little about yourself and your jewelry.

I’m a Phoenix artist, musician, performer, jeweler, sculptor, and designer. I’ve been working at Cosanti since 2012. During the day I worked in the bell foundry, absorbing the design language around me. And at night, I was developing my technique for making jewelry from large-scale subject matter such as the sculptural works of Paolo Soleri and others. This led me to apprentice under renowned Native American jeweler and Cosanti alumni, Larry Golsh.

What inspired you to create the Cabaret Collection and what about the Cabaret Theatre at Taliesin West especially spoke to you when creating these pieces?

This collection is made of .925 sterling silver. Silver is a healer. And so is music. Silver seemed a perfect choice for a Cabaret. The pieces are not highly polished. They are lightly tumbled until they shine. Which I felt a fitting homage to the lives of entertainers everywhere.

A large part of inspiration for me, is current, vibration, and light. The Cabaret Theatre was perfect inspiration. The Buddha upon entry sets a spiritually positive current. The columns reflect, refract and shape the vibration of the ceremony and provide support through their stoic strength. And the sconces seem to emit a light and shape that honors the act of musical recitation.

Jason Catlin setting up 3D scans in the Cabaret Theatre at Taliesin West.

What was your process for creating the collection?

I use an EinScan Pro handheld 3D scanner made by Shining 3D. Once the scanning is completed, a 3D model is created that I can edit, modify and scale up or down. I have a castable model printed on a 3D printer to create the prototype. A reusable rubber mold is made of the prototype. Casting wax is then injected into the mold and this wax model is invested and cast into sterling silver. I use the ancient process of lost-wax casting with just a bit of new-world technology on the front end. This allows me to digitally capture the genius of a pre-existing works and repurpose them toward a new expression.

Once the scanning is completed, a digital 3D model is created that Jason can edit, modify, and scale up or down.

Using a 3D printer, a model is created to make the prototype.

A reusable rubber mold is made of the finished prototype model.

Casting wax is then injected into the mold.

A wax model is created.

The wax models are then cast into sterling silver using the ancient lost wax casting technique.

What about Frank Lloyd Wright’s work and Taliesin West resonate with you as an artist?

In my creative process, I hear shapes. So it was always the shapes of Mr. Wright’s design language that spoke to me. I grew up near the Meyer May House in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and always took a moment when passing by to give my attention to the vibration of those shapes. It seemed to vibrate a confidence in itself. That vibration of confidence within the design spoke to me and also seemed to be having a conversation with the other houses around it.

Taliesin West on the other hand, is having a conversation with its natural surroundings. From certain angles, it behaves like a petroglyph. Blending in with the desert until an intended pattern catches your eye and you notice the presence of humanity within nature. During my first visit I felt a strange and deep familiarity and a sacredness all at the same time. It was very heavy for me.

I decided ahead of time that I would not look up, or Google, anything about Taliesin West before going in person. I wanted to have a uniquely Taliesin West experience and learn everything organically. For me, it turned out to be the perfect approach for that environment.

What was your favorite thing about this process?

Hands down, the people I’ve met. Whether catching a sunset at Mrs. Wright’s tea circle or singing my songs in “Ava,” the student structure built by Xinxuan, I always felt so welcome and accepted. At the same time, I felt so honored and humbled to be in such a powerful and historically rich place.

To learn more about Jason and his work, follow him on Instagram @jsunjewelry. The Cabaret Collection is available exclusively at the Frank Lloyd Wright Store. Visit the Frank Lloyd Store at 12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. to shop the collection, or shop now at the Frank Lloyd Wright Store Amazon at the links below.

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