Artist Spotlight + Inside the Artist Studio of Brandi Couvillion

Reflective. Evocative. Transformative.

When asked to describe her work in three words, Brandi Couvillion responds with reflective, evocative and transformative. From raw sheets of metal, using handcrafted techniques involving heat image transfers, various etchants, patinas and polishes, as well as hammer forming, Brandi transforms jewelry into small, wearable archives.

Brandi at work, shaping her Mississippi River Etched Cuff Bracelet

From her signature cuff bracelets to necklaces and cufflinks, metal etchings of historic New Orleans maps anchor the design of her collections. Culled from archives, some maps date back to as early as the 1700s, bringing a contemporary feel to an ephemeral aspect of the city’s history. After research throughout the archives, damaged portions of the maps are reconstructed.

These adornments immortalize the transitory landscapes of New Orleans’ history: from trade routes and forgotten swamps, to abandoned asylums whose architectural residue still decorates the landscape today.

Jackson Square Cuff Bracelet

 

The Process

“The Jackson Square Cuff Bracelet is an etching based on two overlaid maps – one is from the late 1800’s and showcases the footprints of the buildings in the French Quarter that surround the center of the city. You can gain an appreciation for the vernacular of the architecture by observing how the buildings are designed. Most have a courtyard space where one can retreat during the heat of the day. The centerpiece on the cuff is a birds-eye view of Jackson Square in the 1900’s detailing the outlines of the various palms, oaks and crepe myrtles in the park. I am drawn to the slight asymmetry in the piece – it is true to the size and development of the plants in the actual landscape at that time.” – Brandi Couvillion

Top Image: An archival map from 1873. Left to Right: 1) The metal sheet ink overlay is applied which acts as an acid resist, but before the acid etching. 2) Post-etch: The layers of patination which is hand painted to create depth. 3) The sawing of etchings before assembly. 4) The assembly of etchings before hammer forming and polishing.

The Crescent Necklace

The Crescent Necklace is an etching crafted from a historic map in the late 1800s, which showcases the neighborhoods as they were developed at that time, along with railroads and other parts of the environment. It is an iconic view of New Orleans.

Brandi looks forward to various collaborations with local cultural institutions to create new collections that speak to the history of our beloved city.

Read more about Brandi in her Q&A and view her collection on her Artist Profile.