Jewelry explores link between humans and animals

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Tyler Finnley

I have always been a firm believer in loving what you do and doing what you know. Throughout the creation of my current work, I have been fortunate enough to do just that. I designed this jewelry piece as part of 
a series exploring the visual and social 
relationship between humans and animals. The work is a result of complete, creative freedom in developing a body of connected pieces for a thesis exhibition. The visual 
focal point in each piece is the representation of different animals through the amplification of specific physical characteristics. 
My objective in this design process is to 
elevate the value of these unique and beautiful creatures so that they may be viewed with a higher level of respect and equality.

This particular piece is a necklace based 
on the naturally delicate pattern found in 
the tortoiseshell. Up until the 1970s, 
tortoiseshell was a common material used 
in the manufacturing of items such as 
guitar picks, sunglasses and hair combs due to its durability and versatility. This material was also popular in Victorian jewelry, often paired with precious metals and gemstones. Repetition and an organic warmth are what make the shell so intriguing. I have 
incorporated these characteristics in 
a more relatable form using a warm, gold-tone metal as the base and a strong, bright accent to more clearly define and exemplify the ring pattern. The necklace is constructed with a 
number of individually fabricated 
sections; each grouping of rings is unique in shape and size to make the meticulous design a little more abstract. By accompanying the Nu-gold and 
Silver metals with Herkimer diamonds, 
I am not only able to relate the animal and piece to its previous application, 
but I can achieve a higher degree of 
understanding from the audience. 

To represent a species in materials and in a form whose value is commonly accepted by the general population helps relate that implied worth to the animal itself. It is important not only to the thesis concept, but to me personally, to help forge the path and close the gap that has separated humans and animals for so long.