Makeshift elegance 

Carolyn “Diamondancer” Ferrari is a poet. She talks rapidly and emotionally, sometimes with her hands, and her words are strung together like pretty little beads on a necklace.

It’s fitting, then, that her jewelry is crafted with the expression and detail of an intricate poem, born out of necessity and a stroke of serendipity.

Two years ago, Ferrari, a stylish young woman with flawless skin and big eyes, was heading to a birthday party and needed a piece of jewelry to spruce up her outfit. Following the instincts of a poet performing impromptu, she snatched some materials she found laying around the house — a few errant beads and scrap wire — and twisted the makeshift art around her neck while walking out the door.

She couldn’t get through the restaurant without being stopped while admirers gushed over her necklace. So the next day, Ferrari bought some legitimate supplies and got to work, honoring the same creative instincts she applies to her poetry — no pre-planning or strategizing. “People were buying it off my body,” she says.

Skip ahead a couple of years and Ferrari’s work is everywhere, sold at the local clothing store Flo, as well as Touch Spa and Truth Spa, and worn around the necks of such celebrities as Amp Fiddler, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Rhonda Walker, Mike “Agent X” Clark and Inohs Sivad. She has traveled to Chicago and New York to show her jewelry, and even as far as Dakar, Senegal, where she recently participated in a fashion show with local designer Sharrone Mitchell.

Every piece Ferrari makes is one of a kind. “Jewelry-making to me is like making all these little kids. They all have their own voices, their own legs and arms and eyes.” As she expresses herself, one of her early works — an untamed cluster of tangled pink rope, worn leather, shells and glass — hangs almost defiantly against her skin.

Through the years, Ferrari, 35, has refined her technique. But there’s still a colorful sense of cacophony in her designs. She loves to work with imperfect copper and stones. In one of her necklaces, iridescent stick pearls poke out in haphazard directions. In another, a dangling jasper stone hangs slightly off-kilter from square Czech beads. But one of the most beautiful examples is a piece made from seven slim strands of twisted bugle beads, varying in lengths, mimicking the undulating curvature of a shell.

“Cape Coral,” a piece in her current collection, was inspired by a trip to Florida. It’s made from green thread and fibers, tied like wispy blades of grass around a bright orange satin ribbon, with clear beads and charms hanging intermittently.

“It all looks better on,” Ferrari says. As an example, she slips on a three-tiered necklace made of pearls, fiber-optic turquoise glass, crystal cubes and Czech glass beads. The strands pull away from each other, and the heavy cross pendant anchors itself barely above the edge of her shirt, teasing the cleavage underneath.

Lately, Ferrari’s been using some of her copper pieces — wide bangles and oversized dangling disc earrings — to experiment with word art. In a pair of earrings, one reads “Know Love Trust Respect,” while its twin finishes off the phrase: “Yourself.” Ferrari also designs custom inscriptions, and is working on ideas for her next collection, “Streets of Detroit,” inspired by signage around the city.

“I don’t ever want to sound like I’m being contrived or artsy. I’m just being me,” she says.

Ferrari is active in the arts, locally and beyond. She’s co-editor of poetry for Furnace magazine and is a volunteer coordinator for Detroit’s electronic music festival. Her poetry has been mixed to electronic rhythms on labels out of Chicago, Italy and Spain.

She’s multi-talented and full of energy, so when she says she wants to be jewelry designer to the stars, you can’t help but believe her. Actually, she’s already there.

 

For more info on Diamondancer’s jewelry, priced at $35-$250, visit www.diamondancer.com or call 313-492-8440.

Meghan McEwen writes about style for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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