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  • Ellen Hunt

Barbed Wire (almost) Necklace


The inspiration for pieces of jewelry sometimes comes to me from my day job as an architect. Last month I met my work partner, Everett Fly FASLA, at the Hockley Cemetery in San Antonio. This abandoned African American historic cemetery lies in the middle of a suburban neighborhood development, and is surrounded by houses and fences. Until the past few years, no one knew what this abandoned piece of property was, or who owned it. Everett, using his uncanny ability to find and interpret old maps and deeds determined that the cemetery was part of a large piece of property owned by Jane Warren, an emancipated woman (who also had her own cattle brand). She specifically set aside this acre and a quarter as a burial ground for African Americans. A team from Texas A&M University came out to the cemetery to image the land to see if there were any traces of graves. In the process of preparing the landscape for imaging, all vegetation that wasn't a valuable tree was cut down, so all the brush was removed from the site by both volunteers during a clean up weekend and by professional landscapers. Along the way, the original fence posts for the cemetery gates were found, still standing, and some of the old barbed wire fence was on the ground. Old square nails were discovered, which places the fence posts to pre-WWI. The cemetery dates to the years right after emancipation. I asked Everett if I could get a piece of the old wire, I thought I could make some jewelry out of it, and so I ended up with about 14" of the old barbed wire.

The silver coiled links in this necklace mimic the old barbed wire. It was no longer straight, and gives these links a lovely three dimensionality. The beads are black hematite, a mineral that is found in Central Texas. The clasp is similar to ones I usually make, but these are wound with silver wire , similar to the way the barbs are wound 'round. Didja know that the barbs are just bits of wire twisted around the long lengths?

This necklace is off to San Antonio to be auctioned to raise funds for SAAACAM. https://saaacam.org/

I'll have another one with me at WEST at Blue Genie in Austin on May 11&12, 18&19.


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