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Rome meets Athens
Preserving ancient crafts
"Artemis and Lily"
The first in our collection of one-of-a-kind micro mosaic masterpieces
by Giorgo Damaskos and Luigina Rech exclusively for Athena Gaia
Serial Number: AG-DR-001
A ten year search
For the past 17 years we've partnered with the Damaskos family to bring you some of the finest gold craftsmanship in the world. His pieces are extraordinary, but perhaps the most magical thing is how they get made: entirely by hand and without molds.
Most designers abandoned the more expensive hand-made methods for mold production in the 1990's when labor costs started exceeding gold prices. Damaskos stubbornly refused to follow this trend and used the opportunity to scoop up some of the best remaining craftsmen in the wake of mass-layoffs, making him one of the few remaining designers of purely handmade gold jewelry in the world.
Damaskos is preserving the existence of an ancient craft, but there are other endangered forms of art worth fighting for, and one in particular is micro-mosaic.
"Micro"? This composition is roughly the size of a postage stamp.
For over 10 years we've been looking for somebody to create micro-mosaic art at a level worthy of pairing with Damaskos gold. There are a few artists in Turkey, but they use a lower resolution technique with a fragile black encasement. A related part of that search took us to the tiny nations of Georgia and Armenia (both homes to a great craftsmanship traditions) but mosaics seem to have vanished from these places some time ago.
Five years ago, we found an artist in Venice who worked with Murano glass shards to achieve a similar look. Although they looked promising at first, they were unwilling to work with anything other than their own gold ... (which was made with molds of all things) ... so ... no!
These "talent findings" were so far-and-few-between that we began thinking the art was lost to time until finally, we found Luigina Rech ... who is by all accounts the "real deal". In 1974 Luigina began studying under Vincenzo Renzi, the Master Mosaicist of the Vatican Studio. She fell in love with the craft and threw herself into it, incorporating expertise and artistry learned from other forms and developing her own style along the way. Her works have been commissioned for Papal exhibitions, cathedrals and private collections around the world (here is a list of awards an exhibitions).
It takes a certain kind of person to take a stand for beauty, art, and a lost craft. So it's no wonder that Giorgo Damaskos and Luigina Rech have recognized each other as worthy collaborators. Artemis and Lily is just the beginning so subscribe to our newsletter and stay tuned!
See the craftsmen at work
At the Damaskos workshop, we started with the shell from the "Heart Ropes Pendant" design but went with a thicker backplate for rigidity. This work was completed by Giorgo Damaskos himself over the course of 7 days. We were not there to film him, but we're pleased to show you an older video of the workshop at an earlier time.
Tesserae Magic: 1 square centimeter requires a month!
Once the gold shell was received in Rome, Luigina began selecting glass to pair with the base. An inexperienced decision could result in a false color tone pairing and ruin the production, so she traveled to the Orsoni furnace in Venice to select the expensive "mother color matte glass" used for mixing production colors. Once the correct color mixtures had been chosen for each location in the mosaic, the glass gets melted, stretched, and diligently sliced into "piccole tesserae" (the tiny pieces that make up the mosaic). In many cases the melting and mixing process only serves to create a single "tessere". The process of creating this composition took 7 weeks.
We asked Luigina to make this video for us while creating the piece: