Sea Inspired Jewelry by Colleen Townsend Pilát
McKillop Library's exhibit series featuring Hidden Talents
of Salve faculty and staff is continuing with sea inspired jewelry by Colleen Townsend Pilát, administrative assistant to the vice president of University Relations and Advancement. The exhibit will be on display in the library foyer through June 2010.
One display case is devoted to jewelry made from sea glass found along beaches in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Pilát weaves found glass with sterling silver wire and then adorns it with other sea gems such as pearls. Sea glass is formed from glass bottles, china, or other glass objects that have been tossed into the ocean and naturally 'tumbled' for a long time, at least 75 years, to form its beautiful patina. Pilát likes to imagine that some of the pieces found on the shores of Newport originated from British and Naval ships that invaded or occupied the area during the revolutionary war. The other display case contains jewelry inspired from her scuba diving days in California and Puerto Rico. These necklaces, earrings and bracelets are made with a variety of materials including faux sea glass, vintage beads and freshwater pearls.
Pilát began making jewelry just four years ago in a jewelry making class at The Bead House in Bristol; and her success was almost instant with demand for her pieces leading to house parties, shows, craft fairs, wedding jewelry, teaching jewelry classes, and a booth at the North American Sea Glass Association (NASGA) festival in Lewes, Delaware. In a chance encounter with James Woods, the award-winning actor and producer fell in love with her work and offered to buy her entire collection, eventually having actresses wear it on his then CBS courtroom drama Shark.
While jewelry making is a recent endeavor, Pilát has shown artistic talent since childhood. In the second grade she won a prize awarded by the late actor and comedian Danny Kaye for a poster she designed, and the Franciscan Sisters at her school assigned her the task of decorating their weekly bulletin boards. In high school she was commissioned to paint a mural at a restaurant in Connecticut called The Freight House; more recently she was commissioned to paint a mural at The Red Parrot Restaurant in Newport. In high school she studied painting with the master impressionist artist and teacher William J. Schultz, then studied art briefly in college, and continued studying and also teaching while living in Puerto Rico as a Navy wife. After her family relocated to Newport she studied at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Presently Pilát is preparing for another NASGA Sea Glass Festival in Hyannis, Massachusetts this fall and is featured in a documentary about sea glass artisans in R.I. that is scheduled to be aired on PBS. To learn more about Colleen Townsend Pilát's jewelry and jewelry making experience, see her webpage and artist statement
For more information about McKillop Library's Hidden Talents series, contact Lisa Underhill, library technical services specialist, at 401-341-2290 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org