A Modern Reliquary

Just sharing a few pieces I made back in the summer of '09. I was a grad student then, pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing. The program required students to take some electives, so I took an intensive intro metalsmithing class. It was a wonderful break from writing and obsessing over what I was going to do with my thesis. The experience even inspired a short story that made it into my MFA thesis, but that's a different post. If I'm lucky enough to get it published someday, I'll be sure to share the news here.

Our final project for the class was to create a modern interpretation of a reliquary, a special container meant to enshrine the bones of saints and the dead. Reliquaries have traditionally been an important object in religion and various cultures over time and are often as remarkable as the stories of the objects they hold.

I adored working on this project. Growing up Catholic, I developed a fascination for pomp and superstition. And being a jewelry maker and writer, I'm very much interested in objects and meanings.

Etched brass and copper.

The rooster is for good luck.

The bottom--my favorite part of this reliquary.

My reliquary, which I call Emergency Wishbox, enshrines the wishbone of a rotisserie chicken! I think I bought this chicken at Copps, a Midwestern grocery chain, and while the chicken wasn't a saint, it provided me with caloric energy and therefore deserves some respect. Playing the lotto? Taking a big test tomorrow? In the shit? This wishbone is waiting for you!
The project required the application of several techniques I learned I class, so I went a little nuts with chemical etching because I love texture. I also used a hydrolic press to give dimension to the heart shapes on the top, bottom, and interior.

Here are a few more pieces that I made in class:
Pendant and brooch.

Someday I'd like to own the tools to do this kind of work in my own studio. Maybe that's what I should wish for?

Photos in this post by Eric Tasden.