Mission Jewelry Inspired by Missions on the San Antonio
How Mission Jewelry Began
Fransiscan Missionaries
Antonio Margil - Donkey Man Cross
Mission Jewelry inspired by Missions on the San Antonio River
Mission Jewelry Earrings
Mission Jewelry Designer
Mission Jewelry Dealer
 

 

 

 

                                     Custom Jewelry Designer - Mike Johnson  
Custom Jewelry Designer - Mike Johnson

In March 2010 one of the owners of Ridglea Watch & Jewelry brought me an antique cross that he had purchased at an auction of rare Texana.  It was estimated to be over 200 years old and was typical of the crosses brought to Texas by the first Franciscan friars who crossed the Rio Grande for the purpose of Christianizing the native population.  It showed the usual signs of wear and rust as well as the telltale signs of a hand wrought piece of iron with its little imperfections and blemishes.  As I looked at the cross, I imagined the craftsman who had made it with his primitive tools.  I pondered why?  It was an expression of his faith and it was truly a work of art.  I was asked if I could produce a replica of it in a piece of jewelry.  From the inspiration of this early Spanish artisan sprang our Mission Jewelry line. 

When I finished the cross, it became an instant hit!  I was overwhelmed at how well people liked it.  I decided that I should visit each of the six old missions along the San Antonio River and see what other treasures the early Spanish artisans had left behind.  Before I left on the trip, I obtained as much information as I could about the people and places of early Texas history.  I was impressed by many things, but one thing really stood out more than any other, it was the determination of the early Franciscan priests as they undauntedly persisted in trying to spread Christianity.  These were devoted and dedicated people who truly had their hearts as well as their lives wrapped up in the work they were doing.  I was impressed with the scope of their work.  Their objective was not just to spread Christianity, but to also improve the lives of the people they worked with.  The Franciscans endeavored to teach the native people how to read, write, farm, build and take care of themselves.  The friars were not always successful, nevertheless they persevered.  I was amazed by their stories. 

I headed to San Antonio and visited the five missions built there.  On a later trip I visited the mission and presidio at Goliad.  As I walked the grounds and entered the buildings, I felt as if I had walked back into time.  The architecture was fantastic and inspiring.  I could see signs of their faith all around me.  I enjoyed imagining the people working to build these buildings, till the ground, and live their lives.  I envisioned them having hopes and dreams, as well as sorrow and heartache.  With my camera in hand, I took pictures of everything!  I looked for anything artistic and inspiring.  I truly wanted to do my best to capture the devotion of these early missionaries. 

Upon my return from visiting the old missions, I devoured my pictures and began to design jewelry.   I had a wealth of information to inspire the designs.  From the inspiration of a simple iron cross created by a primitive artist, we began to develop a complete line of religious jewelry.  I truly felt inspired, not by the architecture only, but also by the dedication of these early men of faith.  I hope that you will see their stories and determination in each piece of our collection.  Mission Jewelry begins with nine pieces, but our design studio is already working on additional unique pieces that will honor those who first spread the message of faith in Texas and those today who continue to share the message of the cross.

 

Mike Johnson
Custom Jewelry Designer