Sunday, March 07, 2010

Traditional Asian Jewelry


Natasha Wozniak with Akim Funk Buddha at BAM in November

I love traditional jewelry from many places in Asia, including India, Nepal, Tibet, Thailand and Indonesia. Before I became proficient in metalsmithing, the intricacy of these pieces seemed magical and mysterious to me. Since then, I have used my fascination with these styles of jewelry to drive me to master techniques like filigree and repousse. I have always had the urge to make a reproduction of an antique piece for myself, but never had a specific reason to do so. With so many things to do all of the time, I never fit it into the schedule.

Some readers of my blog may know that in addition to being a jeweler and metalsmith, I am a dancer. One of the dance styles that I am regularly asked to perform is traditional Balinese dance. Most of the costume pieces from Bali are made of leather with gold paint or gold leaf, which is pierced. I have most of the costume pieces that I purchased in Bali, but I lacked a neck piece. When my friend Akim Funk Buddha, asked me to perform with him at his show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, last November, I decided that this was the occasion for which I would make a piece of traditional jewelry from Asia, in this case, Bali.


preliminary sketches for my Balinese collar

In a previous blog, I mentioned that I was using a book called Jewelry of Southeast Asia and a starting point for the design. I then made sketches that combined some elements of the 19th century Balinese pieces pictured in the book.
Top: metal being worked from the back
Below: metal being worked from the front

I decided to use copper with gold leaf applied to the surface with lacquer. Copper has the best working qualities for the predominant process of repousse that I used. The vines and leaves are worked from the back with shaped and rounded tools and then the everything is defined from the front with sharper liner tools.
Balinese Collar, copper, gold leaf, tourmaline, chrysoprase, moonstone
by Natasha Wozniak, modeled after antique Balinese jewelry


As with many jewelers, I have a stash of stones in my studio and from those, I picked out these carved tourmalines, chrysoprase, and moonstone to add color to the piece.

It was a really nice moment when I got into my costume and put on my handmade collar, which is actually nicer than the neck pieces currently used in Bali. As with most things, I am sure this project will work itself into something in my regular jewelry collection. Moreover, I thought it was a great way to bring together my dance and my jewelry careers.

4 comments:

Catherine Chandler said...

That is incredible work! Thank you so much for sharing!

99.3.14 said...

向小善致敬,它使人生旅程較為平順。........................................

PK Studios said...

Brilliant and beautiful! I've never seen a process like it!

PK Studios said...

I've just picked you for the Beautiful Blogger Award!!!
The rules of the Award:
#1 thank the person who gave you the award
#2 share 7 things about yourself..
#3 pass the award along to 15 others (I only did 10)
#4 Contact the bloggers you picked and let them know about the award...
Cheers, PK