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Myra Schwartz

847-251-6220 Central Time Zone

(Illinois, USA)

“Jewelry is the most transformative thing you can wear.”

-Iris Apfel, fashion icon in her 90’s.

Tags & Keywords:  Meerschaum Pipe Necklace, Pipe Jewelry, Rare pipes, Meerschaum art, wearable art jewelry, statement jewelry, found object art,

collectible bead art jewelry, one-of-a-kind necklaces, unique jewelry, art tobacco pipe, Tobacciana art, pipe art, equestrian jewelry, equine art jewelry, upcycled jewelry

The Inspiration

As a designer and longtime collector of beads, I continuously search for rare and remarkable components to incorporate into my jewelry. The idea to use an antique pipe in my work first occurred to me in 1999 at a flea market. While browsing, I noticed a small, exquisitely carved object with a drilled hole. My mind saw it as an unusual bead, but when told it was a broken Victorian Meerschaum tobacco pipe, I was captivated with the idea of using it in my jewelry. Accumulating more pipes and researching their history quickly became a passion. I am continually enchanted by these beautiful and charming antique carved objects.

Technically, most of what I use in my jewelry are known as cheroot holders, which were designed to fit small cigarette-like cigars. Although the majority of cheroot holders and pipes were smoked by men, many of the pieces selected for my jewelry were smoked by women. In the late 1800‘s to early 1900’s, smoking was considered undignified for women in public places, yet some diminutive cheroot holders were designed for women to be smoked exclusively and privately, at home. 

I am especially drawn to carvings of hands and portraits of women, particularly those with mythological or erotic imagery. Often modeled after prostitutes or mistresses, these prized cheroot holders became the delight of gentlemen behind the red velvet curtains in Victorian smoking clubs.

The great majority of pipes and cheroot holders were skillfully worked by unknown carvers in European cottage industries, mainly throughout France and Bavaria. I try to imagine the artisans sitting at a workbench 100-150 years ago, whittling and shaping each pipe that I’ve acquired. I sit at my studio table using their extraordinary carvings as steppingstones to my own work. Building each pipe necklace intuitively, I add or remove one bead at a time until the right visual story unfolds before me. I treasure each pipe as a small wonder of old world history and artistry. Designing jewelry to showcase such exceptional components is always inspiring.

To read more about the history of my antique Meerschaum pipes, see pages 9 & 10.

-Myra Schwartz

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© myra schwartz Sold
Myra Schwartz, Designer
The Pipe Series, since 2001

Combining a passion for fine beads 
with the artistry of antique carved Tobacciana

© myra schwartz Sold