Clifton Nicholson – An Artistic Love Affair Which Began With Natural Items

Posted: Fri, Sep 25th 2015, 01:25 | Updated: Wed, Jul 26th 2017, 05:45

Clifton Nicholson is a renowned American sculptor and jewelry designer based in Indiana. The artist has created his place in the industry not just because of his artistic works but also his dedication to provide a breeding ground for some of the most fascinating birds in the world.   

Early Life and Education – From Engineering to Sculpting

Clifton Nicholson, who is also known as Cliff Nicholson, was born in 1944 in Indiana. From an early age, his artistic acumen was seen. As a child, he would often be displaying his sculpting skills by carving soaps. Living close to nature also made young Nicholson appreciate Nature’s blessing which would soon be seen in his artistic works.

After high school, Nicholson joined an engineering course, which he soon left to take up metal designing classes. Eventually he settled for an interior designing course at Purdue University. Nicholson graduated with a master’s in jewelry and metal design in 1967. He had weaving has a minor subject. His training as an interior designer was soon evident when as a young man he designed “Roughwood” – a house for his parents in Indiana. He even received a Burlington House Award, an honor presented by the Burlington textiles company to deserving interior designers of the state.       

Early Career – Path That Led to New York

After graduation, Nicholson took up the job in the Restoration Commission as a silversmith, in St. Augustine, Florida. He worked there briefly only to move to New York.  

Clifton Nicholson pearl necklace

He landed a pretty enviable job soon after landing in New York. He became the assistant designer at Richelieu, then the second largest American jewelry company. His previous acquaintance with Bill Smith (another acclaimed jewelry designer) helped him get the job. Though he worked for Richelieu during the day, he used his free after-office hours to work on his own jewelry items using mostly shell, feather and leather. Soon he began selling them to Neiman Marcus and Henri Bendel. A turning point came to Nicholson’s life when in one of his independent creations were modeled by Lauren Hutton for the American Vogue cover in March, 1970. Richelieu didn’t take the episode lightly as they didn’t like a junior designer receiving so much attention. He was eventually fired from the company.

Clifton Nicholson pearl necklace

Nicholson today looks at this episode as a blessing in disguise. Being jobless allowed him to focus his full attention to designing jewelry independently. The returns of going independent were seen within a short time. By the end of 1970, Nicholson along with other famous jewelry designers such as Alexis Kirk, Bill Smith, Daniel Stoenescu, Steven Brody and Marty Ruza won a special Coty Award. Apart from Kirk, Nicholson was the only other designer to have been awarded for his debut collection.  

Jewelry Inspiration

Taking inspiration from his childhood days spent amidst nature in Indiana, Nicholson heavily relied on natural materials in the initial years. He made ample and good use of feathers, cowrie shells, uncut crystal, mother-of-pearl, petrified beetles to design jewelry items as well as sculptors. It was only a few years later, in 1974, that Nicholson started using diamonds and gold. By 1980s, he had more or less moved away from feathers and leather and used metals for his designs.   

Clifton Nicholson necklace

Clifton Nicholson red pearl

Nicholson shifted from his Manhattan studio to one in Kerhonkson, a small village in New York State in the early 1980s. He made the shift because Nicholson wanted to be closer to nature. 

Clifton Nicholson pendant

Today Nicholson has shifted base completely to Scottsburg, Indiana, after purchasing this parents’ house Roughwood. Apart from jewelry and sculpture, Nicholson has turned a part of the house into the Roughwood Aviary – a breeding ground for peafowl and pheasants.  

Clifton Nicholson pearl

 

Awards and Recognition for Clifton Nicholson

award

 

REFERENCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifton_Nicholson

https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=jjBTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=HIMDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5713,4966937&dq=clifton-nicholson&hl=en

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1356&dat=19740320&id=_XdPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=fgUEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6924,3730550&hl=en

http://howold.co/clifton-nicholson

http://www.kentuckycrafts.org/exhibits/Clifton/clifton_nicholson1.htm

More :

designer jewelryjewelry designerClifton NicholsonClifton Nicholson – An Artist

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