Alverno College Ceremonial Emblem
A closeup of the front of the Alverno College Ceremonial Emblem. The head consists of a top of cast fine silver with a pierced design of the flame of knowledge done in plique-à-jour enamel. The body of the head is made up of a panel of 18-gauge fine silver sheet with fine silver cloisonné enamel on both front and back mounted in a sterling frame which also has "wings" that project toward the viewer, although they can't be seen here.
The wings are of sterling silver fitted to the center panel both top and bottom with handmade sterling screws with lapis cabochons mounted on their heads. This was done so that any damage which may happen in the future could easily be repaired because the piece can be disassembled.
As the piece rotates, you can see the two front and two back "wings" that project outward from the center panel as well as the full back panel.
The Alverno Ceremonial Emblem, carried at the head of the academic procession, is a symbol of all the learners in the College - students, faculty, staff. Some date the origin of such an emblem back to the oaken staff--symbol of scholars in ancient Greece.
The emblem bears two faces. The front face focuses on the College's tower. Reaching into the sky, the tower symbolizes the reach of each person at Alverno for knowledge. That reach is at the heart of what the College is all about.
The other face focuses on the Tau Cross - the symbol of the School Sisters of St. Francis, the founders of Alverno College. Franciscans are characterized by their love for people and for the earth. Both these loves are incorporated into the design.
The two faces of the emblem are surrounded by wings which symbolize the freedom education brings to the human person. The knowledge of the world and its peoples, which one has reached for and made one's own, is forever one's possession. It is more than that - it is the key to a personal freedom that will forever light one's life. That dimension of lighting life is symbolized by the plique-à-jour flame which crowns the emblem.
Both faces of the emblem are done in the process known as cloisonné enameling. In this process, brilliant enamels on a silver backing are "partitioned" by very fine silver wires which separate and outline the various elements of the design. The flame is done in plique-à-jour, which takes cloisonné another step.
The shaft on which the emblem is mounted was crafted from walnut and highly polished. It can be inserted into a specially-designed stand so that the emblem may remain visible when it is not being carried in the academic procession.
President's Necklace, Alverno College
Designed and created in 2003 by Pat DIACCA Topp, Alverno College alumna, class of 1968.
The chain is made up of 17 domed Sterling Silver links with the tau cross applied on each, including the center link, which is a hidden box catch. The back of each link contains a Sterling panel upon which the historical names and dates of the previous Presidents of the College appear. The college was founded in 1887 and continues to be a leader in Milwaukee, Wi., U.S.A.
The central medallion is cast in domed fine silver, representing the college seal, and champleve' enameled in lead bearing enamels mostly blue. The central college seal is superimposed over a stylized sterling tau cross which is the framework holding the bezel-set enamel on top and also the bezel-set enameled copper frame, behind which is used as a color accent for the vibrant blues. The whole medallion is 4" across.
The closeup reveals the history of the medallion or seal of office worn by the head of an educational institution - a practice that dates to the Middle Ages. In those times, a seal was used to mark documents as being official. Possession of the seal was so important that it was usually worn about the neck for safekeeping. Wearing the seal eventually became a symbol of authority.
Pat DIACCA Topp - The Topp Shop & Gallery
709 W. 5th Street - Marshfield, WI 54449 - Ph: 1-715-384-2627
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