Jewelry includes 'Wright stuff'

Conservancy selling earrings, necklaces, bands made of concrete from Fallingwater

— Fans of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright can now wear a tiny piece of his masterpiece Fallingwater around their necks, on their wrists or dangling from their ears.

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which owns the home that is one of the most famous examples of Wright's architecture, about 70 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, started to sell its Fallingwater Restoration Jewelry last summer and recently made the pieces available online.

The structure voted "Building of the 20th Century" by the American Institute of Architects underwent a complex restoration to keep it from eventually falling into the stream it sits over. Most of an $11 million project to restore and stabilize the building was finished last summer.

But the conservancy wanted a way to commemorate -- and help fund -- the renovations, said Fallingwater director Lynda Waggoner.

She figured architecture fans would like to own and wear bits and pieces of concrete that were removed when engineers installed a system of steel cables to keep the home's cantilevers from dipping into the Bear Run creek.

Waggoner was inspired by a cathedral in Dresden, Germany, that sold wristwatches each year to commemorate the restoration of its building, which was flattened in World War II. The timepieces contained bits of the old structure.

Then, Waggoner ran into the creations of Cara Markowitz of C.linea in New York. The 31-year-old jewelry designer uses materials like acrylic, resin, shattered glass and silver to create sleek, geometric accessories such as cufflinks and earrings.


AP Photos

A choker necklace made with concrete pieces from architect Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater is shown. The pieces were recovered during the famed home's restoration. Each piece is suspended in resin and set with sterling silver. The piece and other jewelry like it are being sold to raise money to pay for the home's $11 million restoration.

Waggoner liked how Markowitz embedded items like feathers and pieces of beer bottles into a clear material and thought it would work with concrete. But Markowitz wasn't so sure.

"At first I thought it was kind of boring, because it was just bits of gray concrete in plastic," said Markowitz, who studied Wright's work as an interior design major at Syracuse University. "Then I started looking at the concrete and saw all of the colors of the stone within the concrete."

Markowitz used the concrete, clear resin and sterling silver to create earrings, a pendent, cuff links, a double bracelet and a necklace exclusively for the conservancy.

But don't expect the jewelry to look like Wright's famed windows.

"We didn't try to copy Wright's design. We tried to make it very modern. Sleek. Its own design," Waggoner said. "We have a great deal of concrete that we can use. I doubt that we will run out any time soon."

The conservancy's jewelry is a creative idea that even Wright would like -- as long as the group didn't harm Fallingwater to harvest materials for the bobbles -- said Ron Scherubel, the executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. Scherubel's group advocates the preservation of Wright's structures.

"Believe it or not, if people know this is a brick or a nail or a tile from a famous Frank Lloyd Wright house, there is a market for it. A big market for it," Scherubel said.


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