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Focus on: Marlene True

Marlene True, "Victorian Bloom 1 and 2;" steel, lithographed steel, 24k gold plate
Marlene True, “Victorian Bloom 1 and 2;” steel, lithographed steel, 24k gold plate


The Penland Gallery and Visitors Center is proud to present its third Focus exhibition of the year, a new collection of jewelry in metals and mixed-media by Marlene True, metalsmith, educator, and executive director of Pocosin Arts in Columbia, NC. On view now in the Focus Gallery, this show will run through Sunday, July 28th.


Marlene True, "Blossom Earrings;" steel, lithographed steel, 24k gold plate
Marlene True, “Blossom Earrings;” steel, lithographed steel, 24k gold plate


“I became enamored with using tin cans in my work after seeing a presentation by Bobby Hansson, author of The Fine Art of the Tin Can, and what I thought might be a just another material to use in my work became an obsession. I now have over 1,500 tin cans in my collection and find the process of collecting and learning about their use and history fascinating. Tin cans are not made of tin but of steel with a thin layer of tin and lithographed images, colors, and text. Those elements are excellent for use in jewelry to create narrative, to add color or make a statement. The steel is great for fabrication and it is possible to make larger pieces without excessive weight, as it is much lighter than silver or gold.

“On a recent trip to Seattle, I acquired a salesman’s sample board of jewelry components from London that date to 1930. Those elements reference Victorian ornamentation and decorative ironwork. Inspired by those motifs, I selected a couple of them and began designing and altering the shapes in steel to create settings for the colorful bits that become the focal point in the pieces. On the steel settings I use patina and heat treatments to create the dark surface and plating with 24k gold to create a rich contrast for the colorful tin. I enjoy the process of transforming this material beyond its original use from containment to ornamentation.

“Meshing repurposed materials with an undercurrent of past to the present is an act of redemption for both memory and material in the process of making.”

-Marlene True


Marlene True, "Victorian Blossom Necklace;" steel, lithographed steel, 24k gold plate
Marlene True, “Victorian Blossom Necklace;” steel, lithographed steel, 24k gold plate


Click here to visit Marlene True’s website, where you can see more of her work.

Click here to visit the Penland Gallery website.

Penland’s Focus Gallery is a space devoted primarily to single-artist exhibitions. Focusing on individual artists over the course of the year, it presents a larger selection of their work to gallery visitors and patrons.

Click here for more information about the Focus Gallery.