Fashion Files – March 2017

Posted: March 3rd, 2017 | Columnists, Fashion Files, Featured | No Comments

By Diana Cavagnaro | Fashion Files

Something old is new again

The Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park is presenting an amazing exhibit called “Knotted Fiber Jewelry.” The exhibit is a retrospective of Sandy Swirnoff’s work and consists of approximately 30 necklaces and bracelets.

Swirnoff uses many materials to create her work such as amber, turquoise, Czech glass beads and antique glass shards. The shards from the 1900s came from Tiffany, Galle, Peynaud and Daum.

The story began back in the 1980s when a truck lost control and crashed into a store window in Oregon. The window contained beautiful art glass from the Art Nouveau period which was broken into pieces from the impact.

Gathering these pieces of treasure, Swirnoff created pieces of art. By recycling the glass she breathed new life into them. Shard that uses to be gorgeous pieces of artwork were transformed into new pieces of incredible knotted fiber jewelry.

The jewelry pieces are hand knotted much like the process of macramé. The bezel around each piece of shard is beaded. These creations are one-of-a-kind using gorgeous colors and texture in her designs. Each one of these pieces is named and reflects a huge influence of nature. Many are created free form without a preconceived plan.

One of my favorites is the one named “Frida” after Frida Kahlo and was created using amazing Tibetan coral, Indonesian silver, seed beads and fiber.

Sandy Swirnoff stands next to a display of her Tiffany necklace and bracelet. (Photo by Diana Cavagnaro)

Another is the Tiffany blue glass shard with a Tiffany bracelet. Quezal feathered gold with Quezal antique glass shard, gold metal leaves and seed beads. It is hard to pick a favorite because they are all made with such imagination and creativity.

Swirnoff retired from a career in psychotherapy and began studying jewelry. She has been creating knotted fiber jewelry for 25 years and will leave an indelible mark on the world with her distinctive artwork. One of her pieces is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City.

“Knotted Fiber Jewelry” will be on exhibit from through June 6. This is a not-to-be-missed exhibit with incredible originality. Swirnoff will be giving a demonstration on April 28 at noon in the Mingei International Museum. This is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to see how she creates these pieces of art.

A book was published in conjunction with the exhibit and can be purchased at the museum. For more information on Swirnoff, visit

The Mingei International Museum houses folk art, craft and design from around the world. Museum hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit

Upcoming Events

Friday, March 3: Fashion Redux! 2017 Finale Party at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park from 6 to 8 p.m. Four finalists from San Diego Mesa College will have their 1950s-inspired designs on display from through today, March 3. For tickets, visit

Thursday, March 9: Debut Collection of Malia Designs at Rigby & Peller from 6 to 8 p.m. at 7007 Friars Road in Fashion Valley Mall. Malia Designs are handcrafted handbags and accessories. Learn how they fight human trafficking with Fair Trade Fashion.

Saturday, March 25: Fashion With A Passion at 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. located at Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) on 350 10th Ave.

There will be a Vendor Village with boutiques for shopping, a make-up artist and jewelry designers, an Ultimate Fashion Swap, raffles, silent auction and a fashion show presented by a top FIDM designer. Proceeds will go to Make-A-Wish San Diego. Tickets are available at

Bio in italics:

—Diana Cavagnaro is an internationally renowned couture milliner based in the Historic Gaslamp Quarter. Learn more about our hat designer, teacher and blogger at

Leave a Comment