For the collaboration project I met Nadine Kieft, a young jewelry designer based in Amsterdam. I got in contact with her via her website. Her work looked fresh and trendy, not so traditional and a style that people would love to buy in these days. This was important for me because I was curious how she is working. How she is getting in contact with people and how she is organizing the sales of her work. Because her work looked so nice, I thought that she was a popular designer. I sent her an email and we made an appointment to meet for one hour or a little more. She told me that she was busy but that she could make a little free time for me.
In the beginning of my process I experimented with candle wax and plaster to make molds. It ended up as jewelry which is captured in materials, almost like fossils.
I met her on a Thursday in January. I visited her in her atelier in the East of Amsterdam. She had a really nice working space. Not super big but enough space for the small works she makes.
I got a nice cup of tea and from that moment we talked about her work and her life as a jewelry designer. She told me a lot about how she started and about her study. She studied at a Jewelry Crafts School in Amsterdam. She learned the craft there but later in her life she discovered that she did not got the appreciation for her work she deserved. It is super hard for her to get an exhibition space in a gallery for her jewelry simply because she did not study at an art academy. Because of that she is forced to sell her work via organized jewelry markets. These markets are quite expensive to join. To rent one stand on the market she had to pay around 1500 euro’s, what is quite a lot if you are just started with your own business.
Nadine told me about the rest of the organization she has to do for her business. It became clear for me that the part of organization, promotion, talks with customers, and website issues, is bigger than the part of designing and making jewelry. It is the bitter sweet truth about being an artist. It made me think. It made me think about the jewelry she makes, that the outside, the part that has the shiny stones and gold is not only the work but that there is much more inside one jewelry piece, namely all the organization around the piece.
I got an image in my head of a ball containing three layers. The ball is a symbol for the jewelry. The core of the ball is the concept, the personal part of the work. The layer around the core is the materialized work, for example the jewelry piece with gems and gold. The outside layer is the organization of the work. The promotion, the connections with people, all the things that are invisible to see but what is almost the most important part of the jewelry piece. The outside layer is invisible and visible in the same time. It leads the eye to the work. Without this layer it will be hard for the artist to sell the work and to make a living out of it.
The second step I made was working with layers and experimenting with different materials. I was inspired by the look of a traditional pearl necklace, using clay to make the beads by myself. The fossil slightly changed in a roughly made package. Still the material was not speaking to me as if it was a real package.
My thinking process went on. How to make an “organization” for a jewelry piece? What is “organization” exactly and how to materialize it. These questions where constantly in my head. As always, I got stuck with all these problems, I tried things out containing the “organization” idea but most of the hick ups didn’t work. It took me a while to find the right word for the “organization” to give it a more materialized meaning. I came up with “package”. Organization is the packaging of the jewelry piece. This helped me by developing an idea and when I am writing this I am in the middle of the making process.
I made a material change to plastics. Namely because plastics immediately speaks to me as a material mostly used for packaging. I used two different kinds of plastic, a transparent one and a semitransparent one. I sewed the layers together and captured the necklace inside. The thread of the first necklace broke inside the package, though it is possible to wear this jewelry piece.
The second try out is a little more advanced. I used a different kind of thread, but the middle part of the plastic is still there what directly means that this piece is not wearable yet. The aim is that the middle part is part of the package but easy to take out if you want to wear it as a necklace. I like the plastic material but still it is not package-like enough. An advantage of this material is that it is flexible, what makes it nice to wear.
At this moment I am still in the process of making the ‘organization’ for a necklace. The package and the necklace has to work together as a symbioses. Step by step I come closer to the end result of my jewelry piece.
Experimenting with different materials is something what I really like to do and what I can do a lot in this project. Now I am focussing on finding a way to use plastics to capture the jewelry piece. Finding the right plastic is harder than I first expected. For the last experiment I made, I used the vacuum machine. Unfortunatley the plastic I can use for this machine is too thick and hard to bend. It will not form around the human body, which I find important for jewelry. I have to find another solution for this and will try to stick with the vacuum machine because it gives the perfect look of something what is packaged. Soon I will visit a cheese shop where I can vacuum one of my necklaces with there soft, thin, package material for cheese.
Necklace, captured in a not bendable plastic.