Friday, January 18, 2008

Revisiting an excellent article

I recently re-read an article that was written about me last year in JCK Luxury magazine, which is a jewelry trade magazine. It was such a good article that I think I should put it here. The author is Jennifer Heebner, and the photographer (the photo is above), is Erik Ekroth.


Commonalities between Nepal-­think Kathmandu, Mount Everest, Hinduism-and Natasha Wozniak's hometown of Racine, Wis., are few. So when a National Geographic article about the country and its art (rich in spiritual tales) surfaced during her college years, Wozniak was fascinated. Nepal's allure was sointense that when her school, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, started offering yearlong exchanges to the South Asian nation, Wozniak secured one.

As a metalsmith student, her goal was to learn traditional Nepalese Buddhist statuary technique and style through 3-D wax carving and casting. To do so, she bunked in a sleeping bag on the floor of a room housing several other members of a Newar-a tiny Nepalese ethnicity known for sophisticated artwork-family. While privacy in the dwelling was rare, skill proficiency wasabundant, and the family assisted Wozniak with self-designed projects (she didn't work far them).She cast a bronze bell, and made myriad traditi­onal oil lamps like ones found in temples. These were cast from an alloy of 95 percent copper and 5 percent bronze-she thinks. "If they had old faucets lying around, they'd toss those in too,"she recalls about the primitive casting.

A year after graduation, she returned to Nepal and her family of advisors as a Fulbright scholar to "increase mutual understanding ... through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills," according to the mission statement of the government-run program. Her portfolio this time comprised a nine-piece collection of sculpture, all stylized Nepalese objects-rock formations from a valley leading into Tibet, trees because of their importance in Hindu spirituality, and lotus flowers and water in ref­erence to the deity Manjushri and the geogra­phy of the Kathmandu Valley. The pieces met program requirements, and moved Wozniak closer to fulfilling a personal goal: creating a signature style using favorite aspects of conven­tional Asian design.

Now as a seven-year jewelry design veteran, Nepalese influences are obvious in the Wozniak "look"-a curve, a stylized curl cast in sterling or 18k yellow gold with a silky-looking patina. Sinuous and leafy necklaces from the Flourish collection resemble foliage from temple facades, with jasmine and jeweled leaves punctuating junctions much like blossoms do on the vine. Amulet boxes-spiritual vessels made to protect contents-inspire Foliage lockets, in design and ability to house precious possessions. Pear-­cut stones mimic the shape of petals. Even the simplest designs feature subtly twisted shanks that reinforce Wozniak's aesthetic: organic, and influenced by Nepal. "I focus on small details of Asian ornamentation," she says."

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