Blue Moon Artworks turns
Derby horses into wearables

Martha Brown has found
a new niche with Gallopalooza

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

MIDDLETOWN, Ky. (December 2004) – The 2004 field of Gallopalooza horses may have galloped out of Louisville, but several of the designs comprise the starting lineup at Blue Moon Artworks. The impression they left behind has inspired jewelry artist Martha Brown to scale them down into wearable pieces of art.

Martha Brown

Photo by Helen McKinney

Martha Brown displays her creations
at Blue Moon Artworks.

From her Middletown, Ky., location, Brown produces smaller versions of the brightly painted Derby horses. Officials contacted Brown and requested that she reduce certain horses to make charms, bracelets, necklaces and ornaments out of them. Some horses were too complex to use, so ones with less detail were chosen for Brown’s line of jewelry.
Originally from Crestwood, Brown has been a jewelry designer for more than 25 years. When she began, her craft clay and wood were popular materials for jewelry. Brown chose metal as her medium because “metal is long lasting,” she said.
Earning an art scholarship to Indiana University, Brown also received degrees in fine arts at Indiana University, art history from the University of Louisville, design from the University of Florence, Italy, fashion design from Parson’s School of Design in Paris, and completed a metal and jewelry design program at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
To gain experience, Brown worked for 15 years in the jewelry design field for major jewelry companies and department stores. She worked for such businesses as Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendels, Bergdorf Goodman, Nieman Marcus, Southwest Airlines and Gumps.
In 1996 she decided to go into business for herself and opened Blue Moon Artworks, a retail showroom and studio. Her signature collection of 25 designs of silver and gold medal ornaments were all made by hand. The pieces were cut from brass, carved with her design, dipped in 18 karat gold or sterling silver, then hand painted in recessed areas.
She outgrew her basement studio and moved to Middletown. Brown held a grand opening on July 31, the night of a blue moon.
She actually began her company while living in New York. Homesick for Kentucky, the name Blue Moon “reminded me of Kentucky,” she said, referring to the popular Bill Monroe song, “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”
A “blue moon does not come around often,” said Brown. “We consider our products very special.” Blue Moon Artworks carries more than 600,000 products.
Brown, 45, said she likes creating jewelry because it is an art form she can produce and generally everybody likes jewelry. She described her designs as “bright and cheerful.”
Many pieces have a whimsical, uplifting, joyful, happy element to them, she said. Her business also represents other area artists, carries Hottie Botties, UK and U of L jewelry and gift items, the Derby Collection, Hope for a Cure angels, and corporate gifts.
Blue Moon Artworks specializes in these corporate gifts. Brown can incorporate a company logo into her artwork. In 2000, she signed a five-year contract with Kentucky Farm Bureau to design gift items.
Brown has designed limited edition Kentucky Derby ornaments and a commemorative “United We Stand” memorial medallion to help benefit victims and families of the 911 terrorist attacks.

Martha Brown

Photo by Helen McKinney

Brown displays her
creations at
Blue Moon Artworks.

Sharalea Bollinger, owner of Prospect’s The Lady Bug, carries another of Brown’s ornaments created to benefit a specific foundation. Bollinger said she carries The Hope for the Cure angel ornaments because “it’s so special.” It is currently her top-selling Blue Moon Artworks product.
The Lady Bug also stocks Brown’s Gallopalooza jewelry during the Kentucky Derby season. Bollinger described Brown’s works as “creative driven.” They are miniature works of art in themselves, she said.
Brown draws the initial designs for her own pieces, and many of them are manufactured overseas. This way, thousands of pieces of jewelry can be produced within a month, but a lot of handwork is still done in Brown’s Middletown studio, where the pieces are assembled and finishing touches added.
Tracy Karem has worked for Brown for the past three years. She describes her job as “a lot of fun.” Karem is Brown’s graphic designer but has other duties, such as assembling jewelry, packaging products and conferring with clients. “It’s like Christmas every day,” said Karem.
When Brown designs a new piece of jewelry, “Martha gets everybody’s opinion. It’s a give and take process. We brainstorm together,” said Karem.
Blue Moon Artworks products can also be found in The Mall at St. Matthews, the Jefferson Mall, A Taste of Kentucky, A Mother’s Touch, Prospect Party Center, Lady Bug, Dee’s Crafts, Etcetera, Celebrations, and Lion Heart Gallery in Louisville.

• For more information, call (502) 253-4532 or visit: www.bluemoonartworks.com.

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