Macaw Feather Necklace featured on the cover of The Jewelry Maker's Comprehensive Catalog 2009-10:
||Meet the Designer-Artist
Renowned for her micro-mosaic artwork, Courtney Denise Lipson has a defined style that combines texture and color using seed beads and metalwork. Experimenting with many different creative mediums over the years, Courtney has only recently discovered her passion for jewelry-making, ''It's what I do for fun and what I do to make a living. I'm blessed to have the chance to live the life I want doing what I enjoy.''
Using nature as her muse, Courtney was instantly inspired when she came across a photograph of red and green Macaws perched on a cliffside, one with its wings fully outstretched. The colors of its feathers were perfectly aligned in rows, resembling an image she'd seen of tribal headdresses made in Guyana and Ecuador. This image was the inspiration for her glistening piece, Macaw Feather Necklace, featured on the 2009-10 Jewelry Maker's Comprehensive Catalog.
Courtney is a bead collector, searching for antique seed beads so tiny they're no longer in circulation, and finding colors that are unavailable in contemporary beads. She uses this collection to create mosaic work, filling in the precisely-shaped metal frameworks she creates. ''The process of inlaying comes easily, as if the shape of the metal itself directs the colors and patterns of the beads.''
''My grandfather was a classic jeweler, my parents helped run the family jewelry store and my father still designs jewelry for friends and relatives. Yet somehow I hadn't, until recently, connected my artistic voice to the strong generational experience from my family. Making jewelry allows me to work with my father's and grandfather's tools to express my own unique fascination with the world.''
Courtney was always encouraged toward artistic expression, from sculpting and drawing to painting and, eventually, jewelry design. While working at Stonington Gallery in Seattle, Washington, Courtney decided to take a Metalsmithing 101 course at Pratt Fine Arts and began scouring books for ideas.
''I remember seeing a picture of a leaf-shape brooch with a bead mosaic made by Mary Kanda. I didn't have time to purchase the book, but all that day I thought about the brooch, wondered about the process, and realized I had beads, a bracelet form in plain silver, and some knowledge of different adhesives available to join metal and glass. I thought I'd give it a try.'' It worked, and Courtney found her niche in the jewelry-making industry.
''I termed it micro-mosaics, not knowing until a year or so later that there is a type of mosaic which originated in Italy that was already given that name. Teeny Mosaics just didn't have the same "ring," so I kept using the term.''
As it turns out, Stonington Gallery was the first location to show Courtney's work. Other shows transpired simply by wearing her jewelry. ''One of my first shows came about while visiting a friend in Pasadena. We went into a little gallery/gift store and another customer asked me about my bracelet. When I said I made it, the owner of the store perked up and asked me for my card. You never know where you'll meet a good contact, so I am always prepared with a business card, and always wearing something I've made.''
Offering further advice to fellow designer-artists--''Find your own message, your own way of communicating through your jewelry. There are so many great artists out there, tap into what makes you stand apart from the crowd.''
Courtney's ability to communicate through jewelry design is quite evident in her collections, found on her website, www.cdljewelry.com. ''I define my success in that I am always inspired to keep producing something new and challenging. I enjoy what I do and am spurred on by that sense of fulfillment.''
Courtney's design, Lightning Pattern, was the feature of a back cover advertisement in Art Jewelry magazine in March 2009. Read the inspiration behind her incredible Raven's Tail weaving and micro-mosaic bracelet designs here.
View all of Courtney's designs in the Gallery of Designs.