Margaret De Patta: Romancing Bauhaus Designs And Constructivist Principles
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Margaret De Patta
led a generation of jewelers to break grounds using their craft. For De Patta, jewelry is not just a set of pieces for the aesthetic culture who were fond of vintage clothing designs but mostly for people who want to express their love, hurt, passion, and joy. The American Modernist Movement boasts of a select number of designers who have proven record of accomplishments when it comes to jewelry designs. De Patta is part of that small number.
Vintage De Patta sterling silver pin, circa 1948 via silverhuntress.com
Born on March 18, 1903 in Washington, Margaret de Patta went to The Academy of Fine Arts in San Diego to study sculpture and painting. The course lasted from 1921 -1923 after which she California School of Fine Arts and then the Art Students League in New York. In 1929, upon her return to San Francisco, de Patta developed an interest in jewelry designing and later found herself training under Armin Hairenian on metal craft.
Vintage Sterling Silver & Hematite Ring via fargocargo @ ebay.ca
Vintage bangle via decogirlvintage.co.uk
Only very few were bold to enough to explore contemporary art during her time let alone jewelry design. Margaret served as pioneer in the world of jewelry and turned simple elements into timeless pieces that could perfectly be considered as prized vintage clothing jewelry today or an accent to designer outfits. In 1940, while working alongside Francis Sperisen, Margaret was on her way to mastering the strategic cutting of gemstones known as opticuts. Her goal was transparency defined by dynamic play of images rendered by the gemstone itself and the one wearing it.
De Patta’s charms are dominated by metals and precious stones. While receiving a rain of praises both from peers and clients, she was basking in her own playground – the jewelry shop. No one will ever forget ‘those things’ that successfully merged the Bauhaus design and the Constructivist principles and gave life to what were known as mere structure, space, and form.
Vintage De Patta brooch with onyx, circa 1950 via icollector.com
De Patta "Sterling Eyes" earrings, circa 1950 via icollector.com
In 1964, de Patta met her untimely demise. Her husband, Eugene Bielawski turned over most of his wife’s collection to the Oakland Museum. Margaret De Patta’s legacies including old drawings, unfinished designs, and tools have also been preserved for exhibition under the De Patta Project.