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@Work: ib designs

Dec 2, 2004 -When you wear jewelry created by artist/metalsmith Whealan Massicott, it is like wearing a piece of art.
Massicott of "ib designs" is truly an "island boy," which is how his studio got its name. He was born and raised in the village of Dos Dahe in the Commonwealth of Dominica.
Massicott says he feels good about being able to represent the colorful Caribbean culture in his art. Massicott came to St. Croix in 1984 and began making art in February 1994.
Massicott was introduced to metalsmithing by Brian Bishop of Crucian Gold.
Massicott's approach to jewelry making is very artful, with emphasis on individually handcrafted items designed with life symbols.
His designs of "chaney" jewelry are like wearing a piece of Crucian history and culture. Growing up on an island, he remembers making toys of simple things. Chaney are remnants of unique pieces of china from 1750 to 1900 found on the beaches and old sugar plantations of the Caribbean islands. They are culturally unique in that the pottery came from different colonial origins such as France, Denmark and England.
When local children found the pieces of china they would round them out by pounding them against stones and use them as play money in games. The girls used the pieces in a game called "puddin," similar to Hopscotch, he said.
Massicott collects, barters and begs for the pottery found on St. Croix. Massicott then handcrafts the chaney pieces into beautiful and colorful necklaces, bracelets, earrings and pendants set in 14k gold.
The "Infinity" bracelet, Massicott's signature piece and first creation, reflects, he says, the great feelings invoked by the Caribbean blue sea and the local color of its people. This bracelet, made of 14k gold or sterling silver, can be worn as a symbol of everlasting friendship, love or just to bring back memories.
The "Karma" bracelet symbolizes the idea of spreading peace, love and laughter. According to the literature accompanying this piece, extend "a helping hand and the same will come to you." This bracelet celebrates the universal law that what you put into your life will return to you. Massicott says, "This is a statement to create peace worldwide and more than just a style."
Massicott's "Umoja" bracelet, which is Swahili for "unity," is the artist's effort to symbolize the sacred connections that exist in our lives, family, friends, nature, music and creation. Also included in those connections are the Caribbean sun, sand and sea, he said.
One of Massicott's latest designs is the "Wave," a life symbol representing water, earth and vibration. Also new to his collection are his designs with Australian opals that are done in unique, non-traditional settings in gold.
Massicott said he is pleased to have two local young men working as apprentices. Massicott's wife Kris also works along with him in the shop, which is located on Company St. at Queen Cross. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The personable, friendly Massicott is always welcoming to visitors who want to see the designs mentioned above or other works he does.
Massicott tries to play an active part in the artistic community of St. Croix. The ib design studio is one of the featured studios on the Art Thursday Christiansted Gallery Walk held the first Thursday of the month through March 2005 (except January, when it is the second Thursday).
Massicott said he enjoys the Art Walks where people can shop at a different pace, visit and enjoy the art.
For more about the studio and to order jewelry visit the Web site at www.islandboydesigns.com or telephone 773-4322.

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