Going with the flow: Canadian takes first place in Saul Bell’s bead category

by charlene_voisin | August 1, 2012 9:00 am

By Jacquie De Almeida

2012_SBDA_1st place_Beads_Marina Babic-5(2)[1]
Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow.

At least, that’s what Canadian jewellery designer Marina Babic did when she set about creating her ‘Vine Necklace,’ a sterling silver piece formed using the anticlastic raising technique.

“The design of the [necklace] was derived from the technique of making it,” says the Toronto-based designer. “The nature of anticlastic raising created this beautiful curvilinear hollow form that opened up. It reminded me of a flourishing plant with something about to grow out of it. I kept going.”

It’s a good thing she did. The necklace captured first place in the ‘Bead’ category at Rio Grande’s 12th annual Saul Bell Design Awards, complete with a $2500 gift certificate. It was the first time Babic had entered a piece in the contest.

Named after the founder of Rio Grande, the design competition awards more than $30,000 in prizes each year. The honours were handed out during JCK Las Vegas at a swanky dinner held at Mandalay Bay’s Fleur de Lys where Rio Grande executives, industry players, media, winners, and finalists gathered for the awards ceremony.

The art of making jewellery requires a delicate balance between creating a piece that is not only innovative, but also wearable. It is something Babic was keenly aware of during the design process. Each vine piece is strung together like beads, creating fluidity and allowing the necklace to sit on the body comfortably and move with the wearer. Babic—who emigrated to Canada in 1993 from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina—credits her background in sculpture-making for her design style.

Grand Prize [2]
Grand Prize ““ Gold/Platinum’Corona/Halo’ by Robin Waynee of Santa Fe, N.M.

“I always consider the 3-D aspect in my work,” says Babic, who graduated from George Brown College’s jewellery arts program in 2006. “When we hold a piece in our hand we should be able to turn it around and admire the back, too. We walk around a sculpture to appreciate all sides of it. The same should be applied to jewellery.”

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Appreciation for all sides of a piece of jewellery was also integral to the design that took the grand prize winner.

The idea for Robin Waynee’s bracelet—which is entitled ‘Corona/Halo’—is based on rings she made featuring rainbow moonstone with an open back hovering above a blackened silver band. The patina on the silver helps highlight the bracelet’s moonstones.

“[This gem] needs a black backing, which given the usual design methods, tends to look artificial,” says Waynee, who is based in Santa Fe, N.M.

Enamel [3]
Enamel ““ First Place ‘Iguana in the Garden’ by Kristin Holeman of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“Since this piece was built for this competition, I really wanted to push it over the top. Thus, I decided it needed to be reversible, a detail not worked out prior to first-round judging, as well as making the most challenging hidden clasp in my career. The all-diamond reverse side of the bracelet provides a stark contrast to the rainbow moonstone, yellow gold, and orange garnets.”

A three-time winner at the Saul Bell Awards, Waynee says her unique heritage—she’s part Native American (Saginaw Chippewa) and part German—is reflected in her designs. Although she did not grow up on a reservation and has never visited Germany, Waynee says both influences are expressed in her designs.

“I think my heritage comes through in my overall esthetic,” she explains. “I have very clean, sharp lines, as well as a high level of attention to detail that reflect the German side. The Ojibwe people used geometric repeating patterns and many floral designs in everything from basket weaving to beadwork and clothing. My work, though it isn’t recognizable as anything in nature, has symmetry and often a floral quality. The winning piece I think represents, in its way, all of these qualities.”

Now there’s an argument for nature versus nurture.




First Place
’Gothic Teapot’ by Tom Ferrero of Windsor, Conn.

Second Place
’Melon Vase’ by Steve Midgett of Franklin, N.C.

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Second Place
’Transit’ by Erik Stewart of Tucson, Ariz.



First Place
’A Strand of Planets’ by Chihiro Makio of Somerville, Mass.

Second Place
‘Neo Victorian Quest’ by Brian Quigley of South Portland, Me.


Metal Clay

First Place
’Fairy Queen Castle’ by Christi Anderson of Marana, Ariz.

Second Place
’Industrial Chic’ by Susan Silvy of Parkville, Mo.



Second Place
‘Cathedral Necklace’ by Le Bibelot of Brooklyn, N.Y.



Second Place
’Bird in Flight’ by Jennifer Park of Budd Lake, N.J.


Emerging Artist

First Place
’Summer Solstice’ by Sherry Wan of Ann Arbor, Mich.

Second Place
‘Kingdom of Heaven’ by Drew Abts of Lake Tapps, Wash.

Third Place
‘Necklace #1’ by Jay Baker of Sandpoint, Ind.

  1. [Image]: http://www.jewellerybusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2012_SBDA_1st-place_Beads_Marina-Babic-52.jpg
  2. [Image]: http://www.jewellerybusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2012_SBDA_GrandPrize_Robin-Waynee-8.jpg
  3. [Image]: http://www.jewellerybusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2012_SBDA_1st-place_Enamel_Kristin-Holeman-5.jpg

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