Beginning with raw sheets of metal, Couvillion uses heat-image transfers, along with various etchants, patinas, polishes and hammer forming, to immortalize historic city maps — some dating as far back as the 1700s.
Showcased on her bracelets, necklaces and earrings are maps illustrating individual streets or neighborhoods — like Bayou St. John and the Bywater — as well as a more expansive view, like that of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Best New Orleans Jazz Fest Crafts, First Weekend
Crescent City Cartographic Jewelry by Brandi Couvillion is my Number One Pick
My numero uno pick among the first weekend Jazz Fest 2014 crafts is the marvelous metal map jewelry by Lower Garden District resident Brandi Couvillion. As a big-wig at the Preservation Resource Center for several years, Couvillion is steeped in the history of the Crescent City and the need to protect as much of the old town's traditional architecture as possible.
Not surprisingly, 18th and 19th century maps of New Orleans fascinate Couvillion, with their carefully illuminated swamps, ridges and settlement streets. She uses a computer to capture especially picturesque segments of the old charts, which she then acid etches onto brass, copper and bronze bracelets, earrings and other jewelry designs. The reactive metals allow the jewelry to take on random blue, green and black patinas as it ages. As Crescent Cityites consider the conflict of heritage and progress, Couvillion's map jewelry could not be more timely or eloquent.