Michael Christie began carving essence bottles from gem crystal as a
way to display the jewelry he designs. His bottles are multi-functional
and filled with hidden secrets, recalling the mechanical genius, luxury,
and craftsmanship of Faberge. Accent stones inserted into the bases
of his bottles are removable earrings; the dipper doubles as a pendant.
He fabricates all of the goldwork on his bottles himself, including
a tiny hinge that allows the bottle to tilt back upon its base and reveal
a secret well concealing the earring backs. And if that isn't enough,
a closer look often reveals a magical world deep within the bottle crystal
itself, an intricate scene carved by fellow artist and wife Susan Allen.
The mechanical design, movable components, and multiple "works within
a work," characteristic of Christie's functional, multi-dimensional
gem art are the culmination of a mechanical finesse and an eye for detail
honed during his years as a race car driver and engineer. After years
of racing, a growing interest in crystals and studies of color awareness
with a Buddhist monk inspired him to apply his mechanical skills to
finer materials--gemstones. Entirely self-taught, he brings a lush,
Bulgari-like approach to his goldwork and a painstaking thoroughness
to his carving and polishing. A single piece can take him hundreds of
hours to refine and perfect. Each bottle is designed individually, inspired
by the unique nature of the rough crystal.
Christie's work has been displayed worldwide and exhibited at the Carnegie
Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary
Art in Chicago. His work has appeared in such publications as American
Jewelry Manufacture, Lapidary Journal, and The Pagosa Springs Sun. In
1997, Christie won first place for Objects of Art in the American Gem
Trade Association's prestigious Cutting Edge Competition with his masterpiece
Frog Prince, an elegant bottle of golden beryl finished with a beautiful
South Sea black pearl.