In 1984, New Orleans hosted the Louisiana World Exposition with the theme “The World of Rivers: Fresh Water as a Source of Life.” This theme spoke to Mignon Faget, who had already created many jewelry designs that featured Oysters, Crabs, Shrimp and other bounties of our magnificent Mississippi River and Delta. The exposition became a catalyst for further artistic exploration.
Mignon wanted to honor the event and highlight New Orleans culture before the eyes of the world. She endeavored to return commemorative designs to the stature they held at the turn of the century when they were elegant collectibles and to present works that were carefully conceived and designed. It was at this time that Faget designed her iconic Gumbo Necklace and popular Gulf Stream Glassware. These items continue to have a long life after the World’s Fair. She also designed a Key to the Fair, inspired by the ornate gate at the entrance of the Exposition site, designed by Charles Moore and William Turnball.
Louisiana’s Commissioner General, John Giffen Weinmann, commissioned Mignon to design a special plate for dignitaries visiting the Exposition.
This design became a commemorative plate and later was adapted for a set of Gumbo China which sold in Mignon Faget’s galleries. Each set came with a recipe card for the Mignon Faget Design for Seafood Gumbo.
Read more about Mignon’s Gumbo as well as a very New Orleans culinary encounter in this excellent story by Judy Walker from the Times-Picayune. The recipe is transcribed and updated for clarity. Bon Appetit!
Still hungry for more? Feast your eyes on the dreamy redesign of Mignon Faget’s iconic Gumbo Necklace, featuring faceted moonstone and aquamarine.
On a May afternoon in the lowlands of South Carolina, Gullah Festival is in full swing. Okra gumbo, conch stew, and candied yams fill the air with the enticing smells of the sea and garden. A display of wooden masks and baskets woven from sweetgrass greets the eye. The sound of a drum floats through the crowd and mingles with the musical voice of a Gullah storyteller. The annual festival celebrates the culture and heritage of the Gullah (Geechee) people, communities comprised of African-Americans living in the Sea Islands and Coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia, also known as the Low Country.
Mignon Faget has a family home in South Carolina and loves to attend the regional Gullah Festivals when she visits. Besides being a feast for the senses, these annual gatherings sustain the Gullah culture by providing a place to share traditions and a marketplace to help support the community and their artistic and culinary offerings. Last spring, Mignon discovered a display of blue glass beads, strung with sweetgrass and sent the lot of them to her production studio in New Orleans. Each bead has a unique shape and a unique history as former medicine bottles, canning jars, or water jugs. The beads are formed in clay molds, the resulting surface texture is reminiscent of sea glass that has been tumbled by ocean waves. A beautiful complement to Mignon’s classic SEA collection.
Visit one of Mignon Faget’s five galleries to see the Sterling Silver Moonsnail and Disc Shell returned to the frosty, aquatic hues of the sea when paired with these substantial beads. A perfect adornment for a day at a seaside festival or for those days when you wish you were there.