July 24, 2010

Song Lore Saturday: Detroit '67

I have been busy getting ready for my next show next week, Maker Faire here in the Detroit area.  I am really excited and proud for this event to be here in the city.  I have had the logo above and the matching postcard floating around my studio for months now, and finally the impact of seeing that great graphic of the Detroit skyline got to me.  I have been interested in buildings and industrial motifs and urban imagery for a while now, so it was a natural move to want to incorporate the iconic image of my nearest metropolis.
Here is a photo of the skyline in silouette.  The Ren Cen, Michigan's tallest building, is included in the series of buildings in the middle. 
This is the first piece I did that was inspired by the skyline.  I love it, but it's quite a statement piece of jewelry, as it is large and heavy.  It was also rather tricky to cut out the buildings and the skinny spaces between them.  So I figured I would do a carving and make a mold of something that I could do in production.
Here are a few of the finished production pendants of the Detroit skyline.  They are still a somewhat hefty pendant, measuring about 2" across, but they have a nice weight and curve to them.  I experimented with a few variations of "shading" with the glaze, and I like them all.  They are a little metallic and gritty looking and graphic.
I wanted to make them into jewelry in a very simple way.  I think I have settled on a brown suede like cord with dark gunmetal accents.  I wanted these necklaces to be clean, unisex, adjustable, easy to assemble, and not using a lot of materials.
The song I have chosen as inspiration for these designs is Detroit 67 by Sam Roberts.  I think the song and the video capture my feelings about the city and its history.  I was not alive in 1967 (born in '73) so I was not here to experience those years that ended up having such a massive impact on the city.  I have always lived in Metro Detroit, so I see the impact, but I wonder what life was like here in the heyday of industry, before/during/after the Riots, and in those years when I was too young to really be aware of the social and political happenings around me.  I wonder what these old, burned out and abandoned buildings were like when they were first built, when the Motor City was full of life and promise, instead of the hurt city it is today.  I have always had the feeling that it was something awesome, because people here still have pride in Detroit, and hope that it will renew and recreate itself.

"This is Detroit, see the skyline
A commotion on the assembly line
Raise a glass to the Ambassador
As she's moving you to the dance floor

Does anyone here tonight remember those times?
Can anyone here tonight just tell me what they felt like?"

Melanie is an artist, blogger, writer, and ceramic beadmaker at Earthenwood Studio. Her beads and components can be found at her Etsy shop and her jewelry can be found in her Etsy Galleria. To comment on this post, visit the original post at the Earthenwood Studio Chronicles Blog.


  1. OMG! I am from Detroit and these are so awesome! Checking ETSY SHOP NOW!

  2. Guess I have to visit you at the faire! I am not sure I can make it :-(. I wanted to apply for this show, but alas, too much going on and I was really bummed. I was, however vending at the World Steam Expo 2010. Any chance that you would do a custom Detroit Steampunk piece sometime in the future for me??? LOVE YOUR STUFF!

  3. i hope you can make it to the Faire! I should be fun! I am going to list these items in my Etsy shop this afternoon: some of the pendants on their own and made into necklaces. Probably the Detroit Steampunk one too, but that's a one of a kind! Check back later, ok?

  4. Your stuff is always amazing, but these are my favorite things you have ever done. They are truly incredible.

  5. WOW, I'm so impressed and in awe!! You are GOOD!

  6. These are wonderful! Have you considered doing the skylines of other cities? Personally, I'd love one of San Diego...

  7. These are so cool! A skyline piece how original! You are an amazing artist!

  8. I lived outside of Detroit from 63 to 66 and it was magical place. The riots were a nasty event. But industry was alive and Michiganders were a proud bunch.