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Chicago Area Jeweler Creates a Commemorative Conductor’s Baton

Christopher Duquet finds joy in creative challenges.

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JEWELER CHRISTOPHER DUQUET finds joy and growth in a creative challenge and recognizes the importance of community arts groups.

So, when he was approached to design and build a commemorative baton for a conductor to use during a 75th anniversary performance of the Evanston Symphony Orchestra in Illinois, he decided to donate his time.

The community arts group wanted a memorable way to promote what was to be the first concert since the pandemic began.

“While I have designed fine jewelry for over 25 years, this piece was an exciting challenge, since unlike other heirlooms like a lapel pin, a ring, or a sculpture displayed on a table, the baton would sit in someone’s hand,” he says. “I had a blank canvas to add elements of a music score, visually capture the experience of a classical conductor, and reflect it in the design.”

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“To solve a creative challenge like this design, first I looked at how the baton is functional. The bulb is designed to fit comfortably in the hand,” he says. He began by researching conductors’ batons he saw for sale online, noting that while the shapes vary quite a bit, handles are generally made of wood and are egg shaped. “Functional batons are all very light and mine is obviously ornamental, but the shape is true to the overall egg form. So, I started with that.”

He took a wooden stick from another piece and built the silver piece around it. “The CAD is the most important detail, and then working out the shapes and the strategy to build it,” he says. “It’s big for a piece of jewelry. It’s three inches long and solid, requiring a lot of material to make it work. So, there were some challenges in the production of it and how to assemble it with the stick.”

When planning how to decorate it, he considered the story of the sculpture and its aesthetic as it captures the art of music. He thought about incorporating the musical score of the first piece, a Wagner composition, into the design, especially after he realized what a beautiful pattern it made when compressed. He wrapped the score around the handle and inscribed the orchestra’s logo, the date and the number 75. Because 75 is the diamond anniversary, he sprinkled it with diamonds.

Because Duquet volunteered his time, he had complete creative control. “Of course, they were curious about it, and it was a little bit fun to tease them,” he says.

Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss and Duquet presented the baton to ESO music director Lawrence Eckerling at a concert in early November.

The project was featured in the local newspaper and in the orchestra’s social media campaigns. “It got a nice buzz to it, which was fun,” Duquet says. “But really it was about giving something to the arts community.”

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Duquet, owner of Christopher Duquet Fine Jewelry in Evanston, a northern Chicago suburb, is drawn to unusual challenges. He was commissioned to make an architectural sculpture of the David M. Rubenstein Forum for the University of Chicago, a building on the University of Chicago campus, as a gift to a benefactor. He made the scale model working with architects. “It was a big piece, about 9 inches across and 7 inches high and almost like a small shoebox, but it was complicated.” The biggest challenge was that the building had been designed by an Italian architect with no right angles whatsoever. “I had to translate the dimensions into a scale that would work and then make each piece like a building.”

Duquet enjoys large projects, even if they take a lot of time without adding much to the bottom line. “There’s a kind of joy found in being creative and finding solutions. Jewelry is very creative, too, but it’s creative in a different way. You’re working in a defined scale. You can’t make fine jewelry the size of a saucepan. So when you make other things, you have to reach deeper to figure out how to do it. That makes you grow.”

PHOTO GALLERY (6 IMAGES)

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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