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A sweet little girdle book by Amber Slusser-Brillhart

Noctua by Amber Slusser-Brillhart

Noctua by Amber Slusser-Brillhart

Fabulous Student Jewelry/Metalsmithing Show at Radford University


Lawrence Kyle’s “Dogwood,” enameled copper and found wood

During the fall semester, Amber Slusser-Brillhart, an undergrad jewelry major, told me she had a thing for owls. We were taking Carly Bradbury’s History of the Book class (a fabulous and fascinating course – I didn’t even need a safe space with puppies to get me through the video on how Vellum is made).

One of our major assignments was to create a spineless volume. Amber created a girdle book for this made out of copper, brass, fine silver and onyx cabochon. It’s tiny and is a cross between a locket and a box that houses a mini medieval manuscript. With this she laughs with maniacal theatrics. The manuscript is an ancient curse. Turns out that the owl design she created for the cover has darker connotations in the world of Medievalists. According to Amber, owls are just plain old bad luck. Hence she played on this with the written curse.

Her girdle book, Noctua, though has had an opposite effect for this artist. She won an award of distinction for it at Radford University’s Juried Student Exhibition and at Longwood University’s Medieval Student conference; she presented a paper about it and girdle books. Currently, it is included in the Student Jewelry/Metalsmithing Show in Gallery 205, Porterfield Hall at Radford University. And like many things in this show, I wish it were mine.

It is in excellent company, as Alison Pack, the jewelry professor, has a strong program. This is always an exceptional show. Particularly lovely is a dogwood sculpture, created by returning adult student Lawrence Kyle. And sophomore BFA student Burke Staunton’s silver lizard jewelry is highly coveted by, well, me. Fellow MFA grad student’s Langley Anderson’s King Cake Box makes me miss New Orleans and Kala Marshall’s firefly lamp reminds me that night lights can be works of art.

 Burke Staunton’s silver lizards

Burke Staunton’s silver lizards

This is definitely a show worth seeing. It is on display until April 26 April 29 (try to see it before that day – art has away of leaving the gallery a day early). The gallery hours are weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed between noon and 1 p.m. and on weekends. For more information, visit

Update: *Crossed out text was the original date of the show, which is now scheduled to close April 26.


The Unwinding Path is the blog of L.S. King – photographer, want-to-be printmaker and sometimes hypnotist. By day she is an arts communications officer at a rural university (translation: photographer, writer, and media content provider), and most of the rest of her time she is an MFA graduate student at Radford University.


  1. Its Kala Marshall not Kayla

    • Thanks for the reminder, Kathryn! I’ve corrected it in the post.

      Shout out to you as well for all the amazing work you’ve recently done at Radford University. You should totally attach a photo of your favorite piece that you have created in response to this!

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