Wearing your heart on your sleeve

This week I've begun a few new anatomical jewelry pieces, the ideas for which have been lurking in the back of my mind for ages. But it's finally the time and the place to put them down in wax. I'm taking a little break from the exacting work with my Number 11 surgical blade and alcohol lamp to write about them because I'm really excited about this new series but it's going to be a couple weeks by the time I have the wax cast into silver, filed and polished, photographed and uploaded onto the website.

Most of my jewelry work to date has been creating cufflinks, anatomical organs in silver. Some have been my own idea but more and more are commissioned requests, like the cross section of the brain that includes the unique surgical approach through the base of the brain used by a Pittsburgh brain surgeon, gift for that surgeon of course. And the hearts with bilateral internal thoracic (mammary) artery bypass grafts for one of the surgical champions of that successful technique. And the semi-circular canal & cochlea piece, which has been made into cufflinks and also a pendant. But I've got a few other ideas, maybe a little further 'out there', but begging to get out of the sketchbook and onto the work bench....

Earlier this week I complete a wax version of the vascular anatomical feature known as the Circle of Willis. It's one of my favorite anatomical features, partly because it was still known by it's discoverer (Thomas Willis wrote about it in Cerebri anatomi in 1664) when I took anatomy in the '90s as most of the previously personalized features were being renamed with literal descriptions. And partly because of it's anatomical significance... the entire blood supply to the brain travels through these relatively fine vessels found in the base of the brain. It's a complex system with a number of redundancies built in to ensure that this vital organ has the best chance of survival possible. I illustrated the area recently in the context of aortic arch surgery, in which the main branch to one side of the head is clamped and blood supply to that side of the brain is totally reliant on this bridge for a short period of time. There is a lot riding in this crucial web of vessels when something is blocked by surgery or stroke.

Interesting that, while I've used the textbook pattern of vessels for the pendant I've just designed, there is a huge amount of variation from person to person in this area. Only a minority of people are designed exactly as in the pattern we learned in Anatomy class. Just a thought - what if I made personalized versions of peoples' own cerebral arterial circle? Would you feel exposed or expect people to take it in their stride, just like variation in eye color or nose shape? Or would it be a talisman like a birthstone or photos in a locket? Or would you feel like you were wearing your heart on your sleeve -- literally?

I'll post an image of the pendant when it's finished and you can let me know what you think then...
-bc

Visualizing Biological Data — VizbiPlus Challenge in Sydney
Wednesday, June 10, 2015 - 13:27
Last week I got the exciting news that my entry in the VizbiPlus Challenge in Sydney, Australia, was once again a finalist. Last year my sterling...
Wedding Bells
Saturday, February 1, 2014 - 16:18
No, not for me (my own marriage—a uniquely surprise event—took place years ago), but for a growing number of men who have been getting married with...
Porcelain and printmaking, match made in Heaven
Monday, June 17, 2013 - 11:13
2013 started off with a bang here at the Bioperspective Studios. February saw the launch of the How to Mend a Broken Heart solo exhibition, which was...
A Heartfelt Thanks
Friday, January 25, 2013 - 12:42
Oops, I said I wasn't going to make any more heart puns but I couldn't even get past the title of this blog entry. Try again. A huge thanks to all...
How to Mend a Broken Heart
Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 12:59
2013 is shaping up to be an interesting year in the Bioperspective studios. The bimonthly international multimedia Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery...