What do ghosts, art and the ACLU have in common? The sparkles will delight you.

4 min read 5 Comments

Gold Bug is a fantastic store and gallery located in Pasadena California. 

They invited me to participate in a collaborative exhibition and fundraiser.

I worked with them several years ago, showing jewelry and sculpture. Part curio shop, part fine art gallery, they have an eclectic and fascinating mix of art and jewelry. 

When Theodora (one of the owners) asked me to join in this project, I was skeptical at first - the form I'd be working with was so far out of my usual artistic aesthetic I wasn't sure what I'd do.

But I'm so glad I said yes! 

They commissioned Italian artist Roberto Cambi to make 20 ceramic ghost sculptures that would serve as blank canvases for a range of artists to reinvent.

white ceramic ghost sculpture for ACLU fundraiser with Gold Bug

My fellow artists run the gamut - from taxidermy to special effects prosthetics to set designers to painters to glass artists, and more.

Each is sure to be fascinatingly unique. 

My initial plan was foiled due to the larger than expected size. 

I thought I'd embellish the form, then electroplate it - transforming it into shiny copper.

This is a process I often use in my sculpture but I start with wax that I carve into detailed shapes, then copper plate, then melt out the wax and I'm left with a hollow copper form, otherwise known as electroforming. 

Once the ghost arrived, I immediately knew this plan wouldn't work. 

ceramic ghost collaboration project with Roberto Cambi, Catherine Grisez, and Gold Bug Gallery

It was too large and awkward of a shape to fit in my electroforming bath. I knew it wouldn't work very well. Plus I was afraid I'd just break it.

And not in a good artistic way. 

So, as is often required in art making - an unexpected but fortunate pivot... 

After a lengthy staring contest with my diamond eyed ghost, I knew I wanted to play off that feature. They say you can see a person's soul through their eyes after all, right? 

And suddenly it hit me.

Many years ago, an acquaintance from my RISD days sent me a box of old Swarovski crystals that had been donated. I had been on the look out for vintage jewelry parts for a different sculpture and she generously sent me a large selection of random costume jewelry bits and baubles. (Which I found out with some research would cost hundreds of dollars to buy now, if you can find them.) 

Included in that box were many brightly colored faceted glass gems varied in shape and size - bright and gaudy and perfect for sculpture.  

vintage Swarovski crystals laid out for ghost collaboration

glass Swarovski crystals in mandala pattern layout for collaborative ghost project

I decided this diamond eyed ghost needed an exceptionally sparkly and ornate cloak. 

But first for some glittering gold "skin and guts"...

ceramic ghost blank canvas partially painted with gold glitter paint for Gold Bug collaboration

During our staring contest mentioned above, I couldn't help but think it was saying,
"Don't shoot!" 

Crystal Casper bejeweled ghost collaboration in progress

Thinking about the ACLU and what it stands for - equality and fairness for all, I wanted to acknowledge the unjust hardship and pain many suffer.  

So I made a protective, invisibility cloak of sorts. In our current society of shiny object syndrome, people are easily distracted. Sometimes the most obvious and audacious are the hardest to truly know.

Therefore, a sparkly crystal coat becomes a form of armor.   

And Crystal Casper was born.

I'm thrilled with the turn of events and outcome. 

Instead of seeing fear, now there is joy and humor and delight. 

It is my hope that by raising funds for the ACLU and their fight for justice, more people will spend their days without fear and terror and anxiety from something as simple as going out to buy milk. 

crystal casper ghost sculpture in progress

I spent many many hours, listening to podcasts while sculpting and embedding gemstones into the surface of this piece. 

One of the podcasts was Snap Judgement, with several eye opening episodes about the very type of injustice ACLU fights, reaffirming why I made this piece. 

Catherine Grisez working on Crystal Casper collaborative ghost project, fundraiser for ACLU

Each circular gemmy burst area took about an hour to layout, sculpt and blend with surroundings.
(That's a lot of podcasts!) 

work in progress, sculpting and embedding gems on surface of ceramic ghost

detail of Crystal Casper in progress, a clay and glass gemstone ghost sculpture raising funds for ACLU

Here is a video of the ghost coming to life in all its sparkly glory and the final result.

This provocative and fun piece is available via online auction. 

The show is titled Spirt, Art Afterlife and will be on display from November 1st - December 15th at Gold Bug.

Opening reception: 5-9pm Nov 1

Online Bidding: 
Begins - Monday, November 1st at 5pm
Ends - Wednesday, December 15th at 5pm 


Crystal Casper, clay and swarovski crystal ghost sculpture

detail view of Crystal Casper, a clay and glass crystal ghost sculpture collaboration

How great would it be to have this on display in your home?!
Wonderful conversation starter right? 

Be sure to check out the auction and all the other ghosts too. 

Crystal Casper, side view of handmade clay and swarovski crystal ghost sculpture

backside of Crystal Casper, detailed colorful clay and swarovski glass crystal ghost sculpture

hand detail with flower ring made from clay and swarovski crystals of Crystal Casper collaborative ghost sculpture

Gold Bug also has a selection of my jewelry that isn't available anywhere else. 

So if you're in the area, be sure to check them out. And if you have friends in the area, please send them on a field trip to this fabulous gallery!  




What do you think?!
I'd love to hear in the comments below... 

Catherine Grisez

5 Responses


October 27, 2021

Amazing! Love it and the cause you are supporting. You go girl!


October 27, 2021


Shannon Hughes

October 27, 2021

It’s fascinating to learn about your process, evolution of your ideas, related insights from the podcasts and the incredible finished product. I’m in awe of your creativity, skill, perseverance (!) and talent. Peter and I are blown away by how Crystal Casper turned out. Spectacular!

Lisa Baker

October 27, 2021

Love it, so shiny! And it’s sure to bring in plenty of donations for a righteous cause.

Sally Anne Kaiser

October 27, 2021

It is fabulous! Hope it brings in a lot of money.

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