The folowing text from the book may be used
for publicity for the book
is the preface of the book by John Preble:
This book is a presentation of photographs, sketches, interviews, and
short essays by a variety of people who want to tell their story of
the Ann O’Brien jewelry studio. – John Preble
Ann O’Brien and I were married in 1979. I am an artist, and together
we had two boys, William (b.1990) and Andrew (b.1985). In early 2006
Ann was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and on July 1, 2006, she died
at the age of fifty-four.
The idea for this book began around 2003 during a discussion with my
old friend James Baskett who is an Associate Professor (Accounting)
at Loyola University in New Orleans. I had met James and his wife Judy
when I was an art instructor at Loyola. James collects antiques for
a hobby and investment. He explained to me that he felt Ann’s
jewelry would one day be very desirable to collectors because it fit
many of the criteria that raise the brow of collectors: her work was
produced for over 30 years; it always had the same look; it was not
guided by ‘fashion of the day’ yet was very recognizable;
it was well designed; her work had a high level of craftsmanship; and
it reflected the times and locale where it was made. At that time, he
told me that the only thing missing was a book or museum catalog of
the jewelry. He felt that once the general public became aware of her
jewelry, the jewelry lovers would really appreciate her work.
After that conversation I began looking for a writer who would be interested
in telling the Ann O’Brien jewelry story. Ann was never one to
toot her own horn so this book project became mine. When I finally found
a writer interested in the project, Hurricane Katrina hit and our home
received substantial damage. Four months later, Ann became very ill,
and she died six months later.
The idea for the book was “revisited” when I was sorting
through Ann’s studio and discovered her Master Book of Designs.
Although we were together for twenty-seven years and I saw her always
making sketches of her jewelry, I really did not pay much attention
to it all until I discovered this cache of incredible drawings. I knew
after just turning a few pages of this spiral-bound notebook that the
story of the Ann O’Brien jewelry studio could now be told.
So the book project was on track, but the writer I had planned to work
with became too busy to now take on this task. While looking for another
writer, I began to ask Ann’s associates and friends to write something
about the studio for the book. As these essays began coming in from
different people, I realized that the book could be just a simple collection
of these essays. – John Preble
is the introduction of the book by Dod Stewart:
Ann O’Brien learned to make jewelry while still in high school.
In the early 1970’s she went on to Louisiana State University
in Baton Rouge where she continued her craft. In 1975 when she graduated
with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting, O’Brien was already
a professional jeweler and continued to make her distinctive jewelry
for over the next thirty years.
I first met Ann when she was introduced to me by her friends, John Hodge
and John Preble (who would later become her husband). As a collector
and scholar of Gulf Coast artisans I often visited with Ann and purchased
many of her beautiful pieces.
While I had always had respect for her jewelry, it wasn’t until
her death and the discovery of her numerous drawings and sketches that
I realized that she was in the company of the other great Gulf Coast
During the formative years of her jewelry making, Ann was not very familiar
with the history of the other Gulf Coast artisans. But during the latter
half of her jewelry making career she did become familiar with what
had happened in Ocean Springs, Biloxi, and Newcomb College. She became
friends with some of the creative Anderson family in Mississippi and
purchased many pieces from the Ocean Springs studio. Ann’s mother
had a piece of Newcomb Pottery that she had received as a wedding present
and Ann’s husband, John Preble, at one time created pottery that
was very much influenced by Ohr, the Andersons and Newcomb Pottery.
While writing my book on Shearwater Pottery I learned a great deal about
Gulf Coast artists – their influences, their motivations, their
work ethic and their love for life. I was not able to sit across a dinner
table with Sadie Irvine, George Ohr, or Walter Anderson, but I did with
Ann O’Brien and I can now say I knew one of the great Gulf Coast
– Dod Stewart, author of Shearwater Pottery