Rosemarie DiLernia and Chris Banikiotes
Rosemarie’s father, a sailor, taught Rosemarie to tie knots as a small child. Little did he realize that this skill would develop into the highly desirable and beautiful art that Rosemarie and Chris’ jewelry has become.
Years ago Rosemarie created large, intricate wall hangings out of various kinds of string and rope and thousands of different knots. This was in the early ’70s when macramé had a resurgence.Unfortunately she found that, although beautiful, these items were not hugely salable. She had begun to refine her art into making necklaces combining fine strings and threads and semiprecious stones with intricate knot work.
At that time Rosemarie and Chris decided to leave their home on Long Island and move “back to the land” and decided on Jackson, Maine where they built their own home and settled down. When they were expecting their daughter they needed an income and Chris briefly went to work in the social services. They also began to take their jewelry to craft shows and cooperative fairs, beginning by participating in a street fair in Bangor. In 1976 they attended a craft fair in Unity where their jewelry met with some great success.
Since then they have made their jewelry their sole means of support. They have attended many juried craft shows from Wisconsin, to Chautauqua, NY and further south to Pennsylvania and beyond. They have attended the Common Ground Fair for years, and prefer to attend craft shows that have the highest standards for the quality of the work shown. They say that Belfast Arts in the Park fits into this category and they have enjoyed coming to Belfast every July for the past number of years.
They consider Rosemarie the creative force, while Chris, who does tie some knots, tends to the more “nitty-gritty” aspects of the business. They do little marketing, partially because they are both quite retiring by nature, and partially because their jewelry is in great demand without it.
Rosemarie gets her inspiration from the materials she finds available, keeping in mind that cost of the final product must be within what the market will bear. She might find some stones that suggest a design or some waxed linen or bonded nylon thread that Rosemarie feels wants to be knotted into acertain pattern. Sometimes her work takes on an ethnic look, but she insists that, although perhaps unconscious, it is unintended. One might consider her work wearable tapestry. Often the tiny knots look like little beads, but Rosemarie doesn’t want her work confused with bead work.
Although necklaces make up a large part of their inventory, they also create lovely bracelets and watchbands as well. Hence they call themselves ‘Hand knotted Jewelry and Watchbands’ We look forward to seeing them again on July 13 and 14 where the “Artist of the Year” banner will be proudly displayed on their booth.
photos by Sara Shute