This belt buckle is titled “Oceanic Nazar Boncuğu” and is the first in my new Morality Series. This piece focuses on Envy.  If you’re not familiar with nazar boncuğu, it is the traditional blue glass beads used to protect against the “evil eye.”  Inspired by this, the enamel in formed like an eye with an ancient sea monster at its center surrounded by two overlapping patterns of etched waves.  Surrounded by a spun aluminum ring and six synthetic jewels, the hand painted pewter sea monster (sculpted by Julie Guthrie) reaches enviously for one of the jewels.  The back of the buckle reveals a mermaid laser etched into a panel of Thurmanite (the layered recycled paper composite I developed) and brass backing plate imprinted with Lorem Ipsum text.  Two hand painted miniature aquatic creatures circle around, also seeking the jewels.

​This piece is part of a recent series of artworks where I have been incorporating meticulously hand-painted miniatures with my metalwork to help tell the story of the piece. My newest body of work, the “Morality Series,” is based on the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Heavenly Virtues. It features the most narrative approach I have taken in my work in many years.  Previously, my work has more subtly addressed themes of societal responsibility, especially related to environmental impact and capitalism as an essentially exploitive system.  The events of 2020 pushed me to be more direct and explicit with my content. 

© James Thurman


Graphics by Triple Threat Press