Trekkies and film prop buffs will flock to Somerville at the end of the month to catch a glimpse of some real Star Trek prop jewelry and hear from its mastermind creator, Maggie Schpak, at a benefit for the noted community-supported makerspace Artisan’s Asylum.
With over 50 years of experience in her craft, Schpak has acquired quite the body of work. Her intricate pieces have served as the final polishing elements on screen since the show’s first airing. As she worked behind the scenes, her pieces became iconic representations of Star Trek’s key players. Schpak has worked under the radar for years, but now she is stepping into the spotlight here in Boston.
Self-proclaimed “jewelry evangelist” and die-hard Star Trek fan Karen Christians has been a driving force in making this event happen. In fact, it was her research for her book on Star Trek’s jewelry pieces that inspired her to bring Schpak to Boston. “During my research, I visited the Star Trek convention in 2016 and was told by one of the actors that I must find Maggie Schpak, THE Hollywood prop jeweler,” Christians says.
After a bit of searching, Christians was able to contact Schpak and get the opportunity to fly out to her studio in Glendale, California. Schpak’s studio, of course, was any prop jewelry enthusiast’s dream.
“And there has been Maggie, silently working in her studio, adding the finishing touches to the outfits to make them more than just the sum of their parts,” Christians explains. “Where would a Klingon be with his bony head plate and huge stature with giant robes without the huge necklaces and large rings to add to the swagger and fierceness?”
This will be one of the only times that Schpak has been honored publicly. Shocking considering her work spans decades and extends beyond Star Trek. She began creating her intricate pieces long before the arrival of the technology that is now commonplace for today’s designers and artists, which according to Christians is why it makes sense that Schpak make a debut appearance in Boston.
“Maggie is a woman, 75, and still working at her craft every day,” Christians says. “She created her work starting in the late ’60s before there was CAD, 3D printers, computers, smartphones, or any technology. She looked at the tools she had and adapted. Boston is in the heart of innovation and technology. What better place than to dovetail the entire movement.”
Maggie Schpak’s appearance is part of a full day of events that make up the main attraction of Alien Adornment. “This event is a celebration of Maggie but also of how far we’ve come,” Jesa Damora, press coordinator for the event, says. “We are saying come say hello! It has been 10 years, check the Artisan’s Asylum out.”
Artisan’s Asylum maintains a 40,000-square-foot facility—providing space for its members to create and store their projects, as well as offering financially accessible classes to the community.
Alien Adornment is set for Sunday, Sept 22, starting with Schpak’s talk at the Center for the Arts at the Armory in Somerville at 3 pm. The jeweler will share exclusive insights into her creative process throughout her career including sketches, models, and photographs. A reception and auction will follow over at Artisan’s Asylum at 6 pm.
But the event is not just a single-day affair. There will also be an online auction of unique prop jewelry pieces from Sept 19-27 as well as a creative workshop on creating jewelry for an appearance on the screen, date and time TBA.
Artisan’s Asylum staff and members hope that this series of festivities will bring more notoriety to their initiative and help accelerate the fundraising that allows them to continue cultivating a community of makers in the area.
In terms of the relationship between that community and the Star Trek fanbase, the event’s press coordinator, Jesa Damora, says the show’s timelessness and hope lend itself to the creative spirit of the community. “Star Trek provides America with a mythology that feels familiar,” Damora explains. “It’s about frontier, possibility, diversity, and inclusion.”
ALIEN ADORNMENT: 50 YEARS OF STAR TREK JEWELRY. CENTER FOR ARTS AT THE ARMORY & ARTISAN’S ASYLUM, SOMERVILLE. TICKETS $50-125 AT STARTREK.ARTISANSASYLUM.COM. ALL PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT ARTISAN’S ASYLUM.