Small Creatures, Big Style

New Works from Studio|A Home

“Good things come in small packages.” — Aesop

We have all heard versions of Aesop’s saying how often the smallest of packages deliver the biggest pleasure. In the case of the latest Museum of New Mexico Foundation licensing collaboration with Studio | A Home, the saying rings true.

The Dallas-based decorative accessory and furniture manufacturer, a longtime Foundation licensee, turned for inspiration to the little-known Ilfeld jewelry collection at the New Mexico History Museum.

The 79-piece collection was part of a bequest given to the museum by William (Bill) C. Ilfeld, the grandson of Charles Ilfeld, a successful Jewish pioneer merchant in 19th century Santa Fe. The first of the Ilfeld family arrived in 1855, having traveled to Santa Fe from Hamburg, Germany. Over the next 10 years, five Ilfeld sons joined what had quickly become a thriving wholesale mercantile business: the Charles Ilfeld Company.

Comprised of bracelets, necklaces and pins, the jewelry collection is special for two reasons: its styling and choice of stones. Signature pieces feature insects, such as butterflies, spiders and beetles, and water animals, including turtles and fish.

Instead of using precious stones, Navajo jeweler Dave Taliman used pipestone, agate, malachite, carnelian and turquoise to bring the creatures to life. The collection features signature Navajo stamping techniques, but because of the stones and the styling, the collection does not feel overtly Southwestern.

Studio | A Home designer Jeff Nesnadny designed a set of three charming, two-and-a-half-by-five-inch brass and nickel boxes: a fish, a turtle and a butterfly. These will be added to New West, a licensed collection developed by the Foundation in partnership with Studio | A Home. The collection will be presented in October at the High Point Market in North Carolina and available for purchase shortly after.

“Once again, the Studio A team has done a fantastic job interpreting the museum material into interesting and well-crafted products,” says Pamela Kelly, the Foundation’s vice president of licensing and brand management. “We are very proud of our partnership with them.”




This article and image are from the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s Member News Magazine Fall 2022.

Images: Left: Turtle pin by Navajo silversmith Dave Taliman, ca. 1940. Gift of William (Bill) C. Ilfeld, New Mexico History Museum collection. Photo Blair Clark. Right: Nickel and brass box adaptation of the turtle pin by Studio | A Home. Photo courtesy Studio | A Home.