Happy 90th Birthday!
On this stellar occasion, I want you to know how grateful the jewelry community is for your perpetual energy and commitment, in large part responsible for studio jewelry’s connoisseurship. For over a half century you’ve educated, enlightened, and entertained us. Your intelligence and generosity have expanded our field immeasurably. I don’t want this birthday greeting to read like a curriculum vita; nonetheless, some highlights from your impressive career should be noted as you embark on your 91st year.
In 1973 you inaugurated the first college level course in the history of modern craft and, in 1974, opened your legendary gallery—both in your beloved Philadelphia. Throughout the years you’ve fostered communication between American and international jewelers. Your efforts to contribute to the literature, enable exhibitions, and place major works in museum collections around the world have been tireless. Your desire to facilitate scholarship is exemplified by the gifts of your professional archive to the Archives of American Art and, most recently, your art library to Temple University. You’ve received countless awards and accolades, including designation as an Honorary Fellow of the American Craft Council and a Lifetime Achievement in Crafts Award from the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. You’ve also been granted three honorary degrees, among them an honorary doctorate from Alfred University.
Most important is your unshakeable loyalty to family and friends. You’ve been an admirable wife and mother. For decades you’ve maintained regular telephone contact with artists and colleagues, most of whom you’ve drawn into your personal life. Just last year you traveled all the way to India in order to attend a friend’s 91st birthday party. Helen, you’re truly remarkable. There’s no one else like you. You’ve always done so much for so many. Revel in the fact that yours is a life well-lived. We’re honored to celebrate your birthday with you and look forward to our future joint achievements.
Index image (and first image below): Merrily Tompkins, brooch for Helen W. Drutt English, photo: unknown