Saturday, March 25, 2017

San Diego Fashion Files | March 2017

Something Old is New Again

The Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park is presenting an amazing exhibit called Knotted Fiber Jewelry. The exhibit is a retrospective of Sandy Swirnoff ‘s work and consists of approximately 30 necklaces and bracelets. Swirnoff uses many materials to create her work such as amber, turquoise, Czech glass beads, and antique glass shards. The shards from the 1900’s came from Tiffany, Galle, Peynaud and Daum.

The story began back in the 80’s when a truck lost control and crashed into a store window in Oregon. The window contained beautiful art glass from the Art Nouveau period which was broken into pieces from the impact. Finding these pieces of treasure, Swirnoff created pieces of art with them. By recycling them she breathed new life into them. Pieces of shard that use to be gorgeous pieces of artwork were transformed into new pieces of incredible knotted fiber jewelry.

The jewelry pieces are hand knotted much like the process of macramé. The bezel around each piece of shard is beaded. These creations are one of a kind using gorgeous colors and texture in her designs. Each one of these pieces is named and reflects a huge influence of nature. Many are created free form with out a preconceived plan.

One of my favorites was the one named Frida after Frida Kahlo with amazing Tibetan coral, Indonesian silver, seed beads and fiber. Another was the Tiffany blue glass shard with a Tiffany bracelet. Quezal feathered gold with Quezal antique glass shard, gold metal leaves, and seed beads. It is hard to pick a favorite because they are all made with such imagination and creativity.

Swirnoff retired from a career in Psychotherapy and began studying jewelry. She has only been creating Knotted Fiber Jewelry for 25 years and will leave an indelible mark on the world with her distinctive artwork. She even has one of her pieces as part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Art and design in New York City.

Knotted Fiber Jewelry will be on exhibit from January 14 –June 6. This is a not to be missed exhibit with incredible originality. Swirnoff will be giving a demonstration on April 28 at Noon at the Mingei International Museum. This is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to see how she creates these pieces of art. A book was published in conjunction with the exhibit and can be purchased at the museum. For more information on Swirnoff, visit her website at:

The Mingei International Museum is located in San Diego’s Balboa Park. It houses folk art, craft, and design from around the world. Museum hours are Tuesday-Sunday 10AM to 5PM. For more information visit:

Upcoming Events

January 14, 2017-June 4, 2017 Knotted Fiber Jewelry This exhibition by Sandy Swirnoff is at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. The artist combines the old with the new using various beads and a form of macramé. Hours are Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5-pm.

Friday March 3rd, 2017 Fashion Redux! 2017 Finale Party at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park from 6pm-8pm. Four finalist from San Diego Mesa College will have their 1950 inspired designs on display from February 21-March 3, 2017. For tickets visit:

Thursday, March 9th, 2017 Debut Collection of Malia Designs at Rigby & Peller from 6PM-8PM. Malia designs are handcrafted handbags and accessories. Learn how they fight human trafficking with Fair Trade Fashion.

Saturday March 25th, 2017 Fashion With A Passion at 11am-3: 30pm located at FIDM on 350 Tenth Avenue. There will be a Vendor Village with boutiques for shopping, a make-up artist & jewelry designers, an Ultimate Fashion Swap, Raffles, Silent Auction and a Fashion Show presented by a top FIDM designer. Proceeds go to Make- A- Wish San Diego. Tickets at:

This article originally appeared in the San Diego Downtown News March 2017. Diana Cavagnaro is an internationally renowned Couture Milliner based in the Historic Gaslamp Quarter. Learn more about our Hat Designer, Teacher & Blogger at

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