WWII is over. The decorative arts start to emerge once again. Insert Walter Schluep.
Up to now, jewellery had typically been fabricated to enhance the features of the wearer with comfort also playing a significant role. Schluep decided that the art itself deserved center stage and he did so in such extravagant and eccentric style. Large obtrusive rings, massive unbalanced gold brooches and extremely detailed sculpted charm necklaces were created without the wearers comfort in mind. These unique pieces were to be worn as the main attraction and you can guarantee to be noticed.
Figure 1: Walter Schluep 18k gold brooch 'figural faces'
Schluep was different from the typical jeweller who would commonly take custom orders for pieces. He felt in order to be completely free, he needed to be autonomous and create his art on his own terms.
Walter Schluep was born in 1931 Spain and raised until the age of 5 when his hometown of San Feliu de Guixols came under attack during the Spanish Civil war. His father being of Swiss descent was able to move the family back to Switzerland where Walter would spend the remainder of his childhood.
Figure 2: Walter Schluep Diamond and Pearl pendant 18k
Walter entered the École des Arts et Métiers in Berne and eventually go on to work with jeweller Albert Weber. After three years spent in Geneva under Weber’s tutelage, Schluep moved to Montreal at the ripe age of 22 and began work in the world renowned Gabriel Lucas workshop. At the time, the Lucas workshop was a melting pot for European trained jewellers migrating to Montreal in the post World War Two era.
Schluep finally made the decision to open his own storefront in 1964 and never looked back.
Walter Schluep’s works range from fine jewellery pieces of gold and diamonds to artistic silver creations. Early in his career, Schluep used the lost-wax technique (cire-perdu) which consisted of sculpting a wax model of his piece and creating a mold around it. Subsequently, the wax was melted out to give way for the precious metal to be poured. In the 1950’s, Normand Vaillancourt demonstrated the lost-foam technique to Schluep which allowed for greater precision and different textured finishes.
Figure 3: Walter Schluep Green glass in 18k Gold ring
Walter Schluep continued his work well into his 70’s. He has since passed, in March of 2016, and will be greatly remembered.
Research Paper by Valerie Côté 2011, http://spectrum.library.concordia.ca/7308/1/Cote_MA_S2011.pdf