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Slideshow: Nancy Sathre-Vogel Etches Stories onto Jewelry


Nancy Sathre-Vogel is more than a jewelry maker: She's an adventurer and a salvager of stories, and over the last 30 years, she has chronicled her journey in her art. For Elegant Antiquity, an exhibit of her jewelry at Art Source Gallery through Saturday, March 31, Sathre-Vogel preserved others' stories by chemically etching recycled copper and brass necklaces, earrings and bracelets with images from 18th- and 19th-century British Library books.

"[The library is] encouraging artists to use the images in order to preserve the old art," Sathre-Vogel said.

There are more than a million scanned-in images available online, but prints containing shades of gray can't be used for etchings, which limits Sathre-Vogel to black and white images with simple lines. Many she chooses are abstract designs or nods to nature, such as drawings of bees, flowers and birds. Sathre-Vogel has long worked with etched metals, adding them to beaded chains, but for her newest pieces, she used champleve (SHAHMP-luh-vay), a technique that allows her to render etchings in bright shades of lavender, turquoise and green, rather than black alone.

Elegant Antiquity features jewlery etched with images from old books. - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • Elegant Antiquity features jewlery etched with images from old books.

While every piece is uniquely attractive, together they create a visual library that Sathre-Vogel said reflects on the importance of stories, which she came to appreciate after resettling in Boise. Sathre-Vogel left the city decades ago to teach at international schools; she lived in five different countries, traveled to many more and went "bead hunting" in all of them. The jewelry she made bore the marks of the cultures she traveled through: She worked with turquoise on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico; bone and black coral in Egypt; regional silver in Ethiopia and Chinese antiques in Taiwan. When she and her husband left teaching, they took their twin sons on years-long, multi-country biking trips. During it all, she made jewelry.

"All of my pieces have some sort of a history, some sort of a story," she said. "That story can be anything. It could be where that piece came from or what that piece is, or it could be where I was in my own personal journey as a human being ... But there's always a story. That's why when I came across these pictures from antique books, I knew that I had to use them."