Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gemstone Jewels

I recently received a copy of the book 500 Gemstone Jewels, by Lark Books, which includes two of my pieces. The book, juried by Cindy Edelstein, presents an amazing array of what is being done with gems today. It ranges from very dazzling pieces with rare gemstones by well-known designers, to very experimental pieces which combine gems with non-traditional materials. I found that this book brings together high-end jewelry design and art jewelry in a way that that rarely happens.

Here are the pages featuring my work:

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.