Christie & Susan Allen
Christie began carving essence bottles from gem crystal as a way to display
the jewelry he designs. His bottles are multi-functional and filled with
hidden secrets, recalling the mechanical genius, luxury, and craftsmanship
of Faberge. Accent stones inserted into the bases of his bottles are removable
earrings; the dipper doubles as a pendant. He fabricates all of the goldwork
on his bottles himself, including a tiny hinge that allows the bottle to
tilt back upon its base and reveal a secret well concealing the earring
backs. And if that isn't enough, a closer look often reveals a magical world
deep within the bottle crystal itself, an intricate scene carved by fellow
artist and wife Susan Allen.
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design, movable components, and multiple "works within a work,"
characteristic of Christie's functional, multi-dimensional gem art are the
culmination of a mechanical finesse and an eye for detail honed during his
years as a race car driver and engineer. After years of racing, a growing
interest in crystals and studies of color awareness with a Buddhist monk
inspired him to apply his mechanical skills to finer materials--gemstones.
Entirely self-taught, he brings a lush, Bulgari-like approach to his goldwork
and a painstaking thoroughness to his carving and polishing. A single piece
can take him hundreds of hours to refine and perfect. Each bottle is designed
individually, inspired by the unique nature of the rough crystal.... "When
I cut a gemstone I don't stop where convention stops, I go beyond."
work has been displayed worldwide and exhibited at the Carnegie Museum of
Natural History in Pittsburgh and the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art in
Chicago. His work has appeared in such publications as American Jewelry
Manufacture, Lapidary Journal, and The Pagosa Springs Sun. In 1997, Christie
won first place for Objects of Art in the American Gem Trade Association's
prestigious Cutting Edge Competition with his masterpiece Frog Prince, an
elegant bottle of golden beryl finished with a beautiful South Sea black
pearl.... "My mind is always wanting something more, to create something
as difficult and mechanically nifty as possible."
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motifs and celestial space temples to animated bear families and vivid underwater
scenes, the world of Susan Allen constantly surprises and amazes. By using
the finest diamond-plated bits in dental drills, Allen transforms mossy
inclusions into undulating coral reefs, creates fish that appear to dart
in and out of golden rutile, and builds tiny villages that spring from gently
sloping hillsides. Allen's mastery of microscopic detail and the power of
imagination is unrivaled making her one of the most widely collected internal
carvers in the world.
entirely self-taught in the art of gem carving. For many years, she satiated
her desire to create as a professional painter but when she discovered internal
carving in the mid-1980's she knew she had found the perfect medium for
the fantasy worlds she was exploring on canvas. Inspired by internal carver
Christian Yeagan, she began to experiment with the art of tunneling and
reverse stone carving.... "I carve for nature in hopes that others
can experience the tremendous value of our natural world... and become more
aware of its wonders and inspirations."
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is to balance and complement, not detract from, the natural beauty of the
mineral. Starting with a carefully chosen then polished crystal, she sometimes
studies a stone for years before making a carving. She then begins the painstaking
process of hollowing out her tiny, intricately textured images so that they
appear to float behind a magic window. While carving, the formation of a
continuous milky slurry of mineral waste necessitates constant cleaning
and drying in order to keep the working area visible. It is a never-ending
challenge to reach the area of the crystal she is working on while still
maintaining steady hands and correct lighting; she often finds herself in
very contorted positions. A medium-sized internal piece can easily have
50 to 80 hours work in the carving alone while a larger piece can take hundreds
of hours to complete. Each is a treasure combining the beauty of nature
with Allen's own rich imagination.... "I strive to capture feelings
of beauty and goodness, that this mat touch each [person individually, manifesting
as a positive direction in their lives, and for life upon the earth."
appears in private collections and has been displayed worldwide, including
in exhibits at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and
the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art in Chicago. She has placed many times
in the American Gem Trade Association's prestigious "Cutting Edge"
competition, capturing second place in 1991 and third place in 1992, 1997,
and 1998. Her work has also been featured in Articles in Gem and Lapidary