Lori Francescutti’s experimentation with metal and stones is informed by her BFA in Drawing and Painting from the Ontario College of Art & Design. The influence of her zazen meditation practice penetrates her work and life. A lover of sun and sea, Lori lives in places which contrast these elements, between the urban jungle of Toronto and the cold and rugged cliffs of Haliburton, Ontario at the foot of Algonquin Provincial Park.
Lori is a member of Craft Ontario and SNAG: Society of North American Goldsmiths.
I create artistic jewellery pieces for charismatic, bold, confident, earthy, impeccably imperfect souls. I am inspired by the organic forms found in nature, from the simple to the intricate, the minuscule to the vast, as well as the painterly quality of the gemstones I choose for my work. The gemstones guide me as I create each piece from the ground up. I appreciate the potential for the metal to provide its own input while being melted and manipulated, often resulting in spontaneous forms or chance circumstances that further inspire the direction of a piece.
THE STORY BEHIND LORI’S WORK
There was a moment I decided to become a metalsmith. Standing in an artisan shop in Moab, Utah, I was admiring a pair of beautiful silver Navajo rings. One was set with turquoise, the other with spiny oyster shell. I decided in that moment that I would begin working with silver. It sounds absurd to me now thinking back, as I had no experience working with metal as an art form. Yet something in me knew that I was destined to become a metalsmith.
When I returned home after that trip I purchased some tools, set up a small workspace in the guest bedroom of my home, and began experimenting with silver and gold. Gemstones were always a part of my work and continue to inspire what I create.
Before I began working with precious metals and gems, I was an oil painter. I received my first set of oil paints as a gift around the time I was eight years old and a loving union was established. I mostly painted portraits although more recently landscapes have become my muse. I am not shy of colour, though there is a specific palette range of warm, fleshy hues that appeal to me most and carry through different aspects of my visual world and aesthetic choices. This can be seen in the jewellery as well. My first degree is in oil painting from the Ontario College of Art & Design.
The thing about painting is that it always felt to me like a struggle. There was seldom a moment of peace as I grappled with different ideas that never came out quite right on canvas. I felt the limitations of my skill level, despite many years of practice. It always felt as though I was having an inner conflict and never quite getting to the place I hoped to feel, a sense of homeostasis and harmony that told me a piece was complete. From the first days of working with metals and semi-precious stones, this harmony was no longer elusive to me. I could feel it with nearly every piece completed.
The painterly aspect of the stones entices the painter in me. Increasingly, I see my metal work as a creation of frames for the unique natural art of the gemstones. There is a visceral response that certain stones and stone combinations evoke that is similar to the visceral quality that I love about oil paints.
The process of making is, for me, also the designing stage. Assembling the stones and creating combinations that feel good in my bones is the first step. When I play around with stones to find a pairing it is not a mental process, rather a feeling one. I feel a certain inherent balance in some mismatched pairings that guides subsequent design choices for the piece. Symmetry is not the goal, but there is a definite feeling of balance that I am seeking. The rest falls into place from there as I hand fabricate the settings organically, bit by bit. Thus, the stones and metals are my muse.
As I learn more about myself as a human being, I have discovered that what is important to me is to be real, rather than perfect. My work feels like a mirror in that sense–I am striving to capture something real about the stones, the silver and the gold. The process may remain apparent in the finished piece, imperfections included, as opposed to polishing out all signs of how the piece was created. That is my intention: to celebrate true, honest beauty.
The view of Gemini Bridges and the landscape near Arches National Park, Utah
Lori standing on The Hand of the Goddess overlooking a Moab canyon
Colonial house near where Lori lived in Jinja, Uganda (2013)
Lori returning home from a motorcycle trip to Vermont (2023)
An abstract portrait from Lori’s time at OCAD University studying oil painting (2009)
“A sensory experience, like wearing an emotion”
“Unbounded possibilities coming to life!”
“Intuitive, infused with love, clairvoyant, premium, solid”
“Ethereal, bold, textured earthiness”
“Antique look and modern at the same time”