The Art of the Egg

The Forbes Collection

Posted by Alex Caldwell on August 21, 2011 (0 Comments)

For seven years Alexander worked with the Forbes’s to capture the spirit and techniques of Peter Carl Faberge. Malcolm Forbes started collecting the incredible works of the famous Russian jeweler in the fifties. The collection became the world’s largest private anthology of this nineteenth century artist.

Alexander was invited to study and capture the techniques and artistic complexities of this unique compilation of the best and most expensive works of this master craftsman. On numerous trips to New York,  Alexander met with the Museum’s curator to select a particular object d’ art for further study, and eventual interpretation in the Vivian Alexander Studios. The resulting sculptures  now form the very foundation of the Vivian Alexander Museum collection located in the Studio and Gallery in Maurice, Louisiana.]]>


Designed for the Elite

Posted by Alex Caldwell on August 21, 2011 (0 Comments)

Vivian Alexander

We design and create the most elite evening purses in the world.

Vivian Alexander has created unique evening purses for over twenty years. All are American made in the heart of Louisiana Cajun country. The artisans are personally trained by Alexander and work for a full year before they are allowed to begin the exacting task of creating these one-of-a-kind treasures. Alexander personally guides the creative process and allows only the best pieces to carry the Vivian Alexander logo. To further the desire for perfection, each artisan has their own registered hallmark that is added at completion, after Alexander approves the final outcome.

Alexander is a graduate civil engineer, Army Corps of Engineer retiree, and founder of several unusual and creative enterprises. He comes from an artistic family; one brother is an architect, one daughter is a graphic artist, and his mother was an impressionist painter, well known for her dramatic colors and compositions.

The first purses made by Alexander were created with an ostrich egg shell, much as native Africans have made canteens for centuries. These first creations led him to produce sculptures along the lines of the famous  Fabergé Imperial Russian Easter Eggs. Alexander’s work attracted the attention of the Forbes family, until recently the keeper of the world’s finest and most extensive Fabergé collection, started by Malcolm Forbes.  Alexander was commissioned to create replicas of the most valuable sculptures in the collection. For seven years he worked with the Forbes Museum curator to master the ancient art of enameling and the use of guilloché on precious metals. His enameling work was noted by Christopher Forbes to be the best in the United States.

Today, the elite purses of Vivian Alexander are made of pure silver and enamel. The designs, ranging from classical to abstract, are carried out using gemstones and crystals, and often embellished with Louisiana alligator skin. A lavish use of multi-colored enamel make these evening purses a stunning foil for the most sophisticated evening wear.]]>



Posted by Alex Caldwell on August 21, 2011 (0 Comments)

              Vivian Alexander Exhibit

Louisiana State Archives Building

Secretary of State Jay Darden announced the opening of the Vivian Alexander Art exhibit to run from May 18 through August 31, 2010 in the Louisiana Archives building in Baton Rouge.

 The exhibit includes:

  • A retrospective of sculptures and purses produced by Vivian Alexander over the last twenty years.
  • Faberge replicas produced in cooperation with the Forbes Museum for inclusion in the Forbes Collection.
  • The Imperial Coronation Egg used in the Warner Bros. Ocean’s Twelve movie.
  • Animal sculptures using antique metal and ostrich egg armatures.
  • An entire section featuring current production of engine turned fine silver purses finished with gemstones, enamels, and Louisiana alligator.

 Hours and Location:

The Archives building and exhibits are open Monday-Friday from 8 AM until 4:30 PM. Exhibits are also open on Saturday from 9 AM until 5 PM and Sunday from 1 PM until 5 PM.

The Archives building is located at 3851 Essen Lane between I-10 and I-12 in Baton Rouge.



The Sitter

Posted by Alex Caldwell on August 21, 2011 (0 Comments)

News Release - Lafayette Economic Development Authority

Vivian Alexander, maker of exquisite purses and collectibles for nearly 20 years, has been commissioned by Twentieth Century Fox to create a Faberge-style egg for the upcoming movie The Sitter which stars Jonah Hill and Sam Rockwell.

This “dinosaur-sized” egg is not Vivian Alexander’s first foray into the movie business; in 2005 the company created the Coronation Egg for the Warner Brothers production Ocean’s 12

Alexander Caldwell, co-creator and president of Vivian Alexander, is excited about their emerging status as the de facto supplier of fine egg props for the movie industry. According to Caldwell, the prop master for The Sitter was referred to Vivian Alexander by Warner Brothers.

Alexander commented, “As simple as it looks, the creation of this oversized Faberge egg for 20th Century Fox required the combined efforts of our whole team. I supplied the engineering to make the specialized tools needed, Liza Caldwell created the design, and our enameling artisans put it all together.”

Although a very prestigious task, the two movie prop eggs are not the first contracts of this magnitude for Vivian Alexander. 

The company was founded in 1991 by Alex Caldwell, a civil engineer by trade, and his life partner Vivian Tullos. Originally a hobby inspired by the feathered animals on the property of their Maurice home, the couple evolved their egg creations into fine art sculptures sought after by fashion elite and discerning collectors around the world.

The first prominent collection of egg art by Vivian Alexander was made during a seven year contract with Christopher Forbes. The company created several major limited edition pieces for the Forbes Fabergé collection in the 1990s. Using the en plein technique of enameling, they re-created many of the original Fabergé pieces, including the Duchess of Marlborough Egg Clock and the Imperial Chanticleer Egg Clock.

Vivian Alexander first appeared on the international radar in the early 2000s when Diageo, the largest liquor distributor in the world, commissioned a purse used to advertise Smirnoff Vodka in Europe. In 2010 Diageo returned to Vivian Alexander, this time to design five purses for Bailey’s Irish Cream which were used for marketing in Germany.

Gregg Gothreaux, President and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, says Vivian Alexander’s work is a great representation of Acadiana’s strong arts culture morphing into a world-recognized business.

“It’s great to see Alex’s vision stand out among fine art around the world and serve as an outstanding representation of Acadiana,” Gothreaux said. “Vivian Alexander is a prime example of turning a household hobby into a successful business. Sometimes your business finds its niche and sometimes the niche finds you, as seems to be the case with Vivian Alexander and the movie industry.”

Vivian Alexander has ventured into new areas such as jewelry and other fine silver pieces. The use of pure silver allows the artists more uniformity and flexibility in their designs, while always staying true to the unique, high-quality designs that brought the company the success they have today.




Posted by Alex Caldwell on August 21, 2011 (0 Comments)

This is not the old Vivian Alexander ma-ma purse anymore!

If you loved them before, you will go crazy carrying this!

If they crowded you before, they will run you down to see this!

If you thought the old Vivian Alexander’s were an attention getter, you are in for a shock.

And you thought the old ones were beautiful!

Egg shells out – silver shells in

If you carry it, they will come!

What hair do? They are eyeing your purse!]]>



Posted by Alex Caldwell on August 21, 2011 (0 Comments)

This is art.

This is a minaudieré.

This is bespoke, you can’t just have it.

This is what Vivian Alexander is about.

But if you are that one in a million that can afford it, and you have the guts to carry it, I will create one for you. It will be your very own.

 You will reserve this beauty for only those very special occasions; the black tie ball on your anniversary cruise, symphony at the Kennedy Center, the Washington Mardi Gras Ball.

 They will know you are there. They will know you are very special.

 Now all you need is to find a gown that will stand up to the challenge. (Or if you already have the gown, let me see it and we will create to it.)]]>


Vivian Alexander minaudière collection

Posted by Alex Caldwell on August 21, 2011 (0 Comments)
The new Vivian Alexander minaudière collection features couture designs, engine-turned pure silver bases, fine enamel, gemstones, and decorative metalwork.

 When an early owner of Van Cleef & Arpels, noticed a wealthy client in 1930 insouciantly carrying her ladylike essentials in a tin cigarette case, he had an idea: What if he constructed a small luxury purse in silver or gold for a woman to carry lipstick, powder, and some cash? He could craft it in precious metals, accent with gems or beads, and incorporate fine enamel and decorative features. The purses, which he called minaudières, a French word meaning to smile coyly, were an instant success. Ever since, well-turned out women, whether on the red carpet or at other gala events across the world, have smiled coyly while carrying these delicate works of art.

Vivian Alexander minaudières begin with an engine-turned, guilloché-decorated, pure (.999) silver armature, or supporting base. Guilloché, a French word meaning "engine turning patterns," involves carving ornamental patterns into metal; the patterns are then visible through fine enameling. These bases are made exclusively for the company by a Russian émigré silversmith with a background in electrical engineering After the bases are created, artisans who have been carefully selected and trained by the company begin the slow, painstaking process of bringing to life Caldwell’s artistic inspirations. The artisans themselves complement Caldwell’s vision with unique and individualized skills in fine art decoration.

Among the fine details featured in Vivian Alexander minaudières are intricate designs using cloisonnè, an ancient metalworking technique for decorating objects. It involves using delicate strips of precious metal wire to create compartments that Vivian Alexander artisans fill with up to 10 different enamel colors and hues. The enamels are translucent, transparent, or opaque, and can be pearlized, swirled with gold and silver particles, or infused with contrasting embedded enamel colors. The purses are often decorated with gemstones, fine crystals, and other precious accents as well. Alligator skins from Louisiana and lizard skins from South America are also used to cover the silver base and to complement the enamel. In many cases, designs take the form of fine brooches or pendants, many of which can be removed and worn separately. 




Ornaments of Fine Silver

Posted by Alex Caldwell on August 21, 2011 (0 Comments)

The history of Vivian Alexander Silver Ornaments
 Vivian Alexander has been in business of creating egg shaped products for over twenty years. The idea actually started in the summer of 1986 by decorating goose eggs for Christmas tree ornaments and dioramas. The raw material came from various sizes and types of eggs that were laying around Alexander's yard as a result of his flock of feathered foul roaming his country estate.

After three years of cutting, gluing, painting, and adding other embellishments on goose egg shells, Alexander moved up to larger egg shells; ostrich, rhea, and emu. Figuring out what to do with the larger shells proved to be much more interesting and challenging to Alexander, a graduate Civil Engineer. An astute observation of stringy evening purses carried by ladies at a Mardi Gras ball in 1991 proved to be the start of a new career. At the ball Alexander sketched out on his bar napkin an evening purse made of an ostrich egg shell. The following day Alexander went to his barn shop and made the first egg purse. That day the Vivian Alexander Company was born.

After several successful years creating and selling egg purses, Alexander was approached by the Forbes family with a request to replicate some of the famous Imperial Faberge Eggs that were in the vast Carl Faberge collection started by Malcolm Forbes. This experience exposed Alexander to the intricate details of these famous Imperial eggs, and just what made them so beautiful and unique in the world of European art and jewelry making. What stood out was that almost every egg and most of the other jewelry pieces made by Faberge, started with an intricate guilloche pattern etched in precious metal, and was followed by the most gorgeous translucent enamels. The precious metals, embellished with intricate guilloche and enclosed in transparent enamel sparkled with ever changing flashes of light that appeared to dance on the etched patterns deep in the enamel's embrace.

For Alexander to properly replicate the Faberge pieces in the Forbes Museum collection, he concluded that he had to become knowledgeable in the art of guilloche and the mechanics of enameling. True to his engineering mind, he immersed himself in studying the intricate machinery required and the ancient skills necessary to produce Imperial jewelry grade guilloche. He went so far as to locate an 1840 rose engine turning machine in Birmingham, England. He quickly learned that the process was extremely time consuming, required a steady hand, and years of experience to produce the quality needed to carry out his replication task. The skills and the machinery were available in Birmingham, but at a dear price.

The skills, materials, and equipment required to create beautiful translucent enamel were more readily available. However, one important and necessary procedure; the art of applying baked enamel on a curved surface was almost unknown, the art of applying enamel to a double curved surface such as an egg was unheard of. So the engineer went back to work to reinvent a method of applying and baking enamel so that it was flawless when used on a spherical surface. Since those early experiments Alexander has evolved, through several iterations of equipment and many days of frustration and makeovers, a process to reliably apply enamel to his curved designs.

With the two basic embellishment requirements solved Alexander sourced a Russian electrical engineer that had perfected a method of electroforming ovoid figures using fine silver. Vivian Alexander was now ready to produce replicas of Carl Faberges work that would meet and exceed the rigid requirements of the curator of the Forbes Museum Collection. Various egg sizes were produced using fine silver with guilloche engine turning applied and enamel baked on to be used in the production of the replica Imperial Eggs. Additionally, smaller such eggs were produced to emulate the delicate jewelry boxes and sewing kits made for European nobility.

Alexander ruminated over how to use the smaller silver egg shells to create additional art. Sculptures that would benefit from the lessons learned from his work with the Forbes Museum and the Imperial Faberge Eggs. Thinking back to his early days of decorating egg shells, he decided to try making an ornament using the small silver eggs. After much trial and error the first fine silver Mardi Gras ornament with the ubiquitous purple, green, and gold enamels and crystals was created. Naturally it was followed by the first silver Easter Egg, and finally a Christmas tree ornament. Since those first silver ornaments, three more have been created each year for the last six years. Because of the arduous, time consuming labor involved in replicating these ornaments, and the costly materials required, the decision was made to severely limit production. Two hundred of each design was deemed to be the practical maximum that could be made in a reasonable time. And since the production numbers were so small it seemed proper to serially number them and register the individual ornaments to the original owners. To date there have been nineteen unique ornament designs made many of each series has been registered and sold. Many customers have standing orders for their particular series number. Some senior citizens have reserved numbers for each of their grandchildren. Their grandchildren aren't particularly happy but, given time, they will come to appreciate their series of Vivian Alexander ornaments and the significance of their value.

Early on, it was decided to increase the sale price of the retired ornaments by ten dollars a year. The price increase was called for by the increased scarcity of the individual ornaments as the years passed by. At this writing the oldest, and rarest, ornaments are priced at two hundred eighty five dollars. In 2005 the introductory price was set at two hundred twenty five dollars. At that time fine, bullion grade silver was priced at less than $7 an ounce. At this writing the cost of fine silver is over $28. per ounce. Despite this fourfold price increase of the single most valuable component, Vivian Alexander has determined to hold the introductory price at $225 per ornament as long as possible.

These pure silver, guilloched, translucent enameled, numbered and registered, artist designed, hand made ornaments are destined to be a valuable collector’s item in the years to come. The value of the original ornaments has already risen 25%, and that doesn't take into account the value of complete, like numbered sets of any one series. A complete set of all nineteen ornaments, at this writing, all with the same serial number, would be a collectors dream.

A little background of Vivian Alexander:
Alexander’s primary product is his unique and beautiful silver purses that are lavishly decorated with colored crystals and enameled with complementing translucent enamel. Visit his web site  to see hundreds of silver purses and other works of art that have been created over the last few years.

Of interest is his long connection with the Forbes Museum and their extensive collection of Carl Faberge sculpture. Additionally, Vivian Alexander was commissioned to create the centerpiece Imperial Coronation Egg for the Warner Bros. movie Oceans Twelve. Recently Twentieth Century Fox had him create an oversized Faberge Egg for a movie they were shooting in New York. The movie The Sitter, is due to premier July 15, 2011.
 Exhibits of Vivian Alexander creations have been numerous and widely disbursed. The Louisiana Archives in Baton Rouge, the Opelousas Museum, and the Frist Museum in Nashville are but a few of his venues.]]>


Faberge, The Legend

Posted by Alex Caldwell on August 21, 2011 (0 Comments)

Faberge is one of the most well known and least understood persons in most countries around the world. The first thing that pops into most people’s mind when they hear Faberge  is Imperial Easter Eggs. While he did create the Easter eggs that were given to the Tsar, who in turn gave them to his tsarina and his mother; the full story is much more involved and fascinating than that. Faberge and his work was the pivotal point between old style, massive, gaudy gemstones hanging all over in a show of wealth to more nuanced designs.

Faberge developed his techniques over much of his career. He built on the shoulders of the legend of jewelers and artisans before him and studied the techniques of professionals of his day.

Alexander studied the master’s designs and techniques continually during the seven years he worked to replicate the most valued sculptures in the Faberge Collection belonging to Malcolm Forbes and the Forbes Museum.

The techniques used to create Faberge art can be categorized in three areas; enameling, guilloché, and material selection. None of these areas were new to the period, but all were expanded and perfected dramatically during this period of history. A comparison of his techniques and the methods now used by Vivian Alexander are worthy of study.

Enameling: Of the three areas of study, enameling techniques were the most difficult to master by Alexander. During the time of Faberge, Van Cleef and Arpels, and Lalique the prevailing method of enameling involved finely ground glass of various colors and a high temperature kiln to liquefy the glass into a homogeneous mass. Multi layers of enamel were incorporated to obtain a depth and variety of colors. The process was very slow and subject to large variations of quality. Re making the piece, or section to be enameled was not uncommon.  Knowing the complexity and tedious process that was used makes one marvel at the beauty of Faberge’s enamel work. This type of enameling is still used by dedicated hobbyist to carry on the technique and tradition.




Permanent Loan

Posted by Alex Caldwell on August 21, 2011 (0 Comments)

Mrs. Supriya Jindal

Governor’s Mansion
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

September 7, 2010 

Dear Mrs .Jindal 

The BP oil spill has had devastating consequences in Louisiana. Many businesses and individuals in the State have their own discouraging story to tell. 

My company, Vivian Alexander, has created and sold art in southern Louisiana for over twenty years. We are a completely local organization with all of our artisans recruited and trained in our Acadiana Studio on the bayou in rural Vermilion Parish. 

Our sales greatly depend on tourists from out of state. Since the spill, our visitors have slowed to a trickle and scheduled bus tours are canceling or rescheduling. I ask for no financial help to save my business, but I do ask for a small favor that I think will speed our recovery. 

Vivian Alexander creates fine evening purses that are admired around the world, and we depend on word of mouth and public exposure to bring us new customers. With you in mind I have designed and produced a multi colored and intricately laid out paisley enamel purse. The paisley tear drop swirls and crystals and the multi colored enamel are all baked in, one color at a time. I think you will appreciate my symbolism. 

My request to you is to carry this purse for a while, when appropriate, and tell my story to anyone that asks. I am certain it will help our cause. Additionally, I request that you eventually  leave this art piece, as a gift from you, to the permanent art collection in the Governors Mansion. 


Alex Caldwell]]>


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