HAND/EYE Magazine correspondent Marcella Echavarria interviewed jewelry designer Clara Saldarriaga about Colombia’s diverse flora and fauna. Sadarriaga explained how she melded ancient metalwork techniques with flowers, leaves, and seeds to create elegant, handmade, and sustainable jewelry that celebrates the glory and beauty of nature.
Marcella Echavarria: Please tell us about your work?
Clara Saldarriaga: My work talks about Colombia, the country where I was born and where I live and work. My artistic work is a response to a beautiful scenario where the sun shines all year round, and the shades of green and flowers are infinite. Each piece I make pays homage to Colombia’s biodiversity through very old ancestral techniques that involve metalwork, lost wax and other alchemical processes. Nature enjoys a second life through the contact of natural elements with copper, gold and silver. Each piece tells stories about nature and becomes part of the history of the person wearing the jewelry.
ME: How did you begin working with nature?
CS:In 1989, after years of exploring life size formats, I became interested in smaller formats that could interact in an intimate way with the users, becoming part of their lives and acting as totems and amulets. At that time I had a lot of questions about life, time, permanence, and impermanence. That research led to the “Nature’s Collection,” which started from a process of deep questioning, inquiry, and soul searching reflection.
ME: How would you describe your creative process?
CS: My spiritual search led me to find the appropriate metals to achieve the pieces that would highlight nature with its beauty along with its imperfections. I was interested in the secrets that are not easily perceived by the eye, the essence that is felt at a different level. Years of research led me to the pieces that are part of “Nature’s Collection”.
ME: Where do you find your inspiration?
CS: From life, from my questions, from my everyday life with its simplicity and complexity. It’s sweet and sour.
ME: Is your work innovative?
CS: My work is innovative because it does what we all dream of doing many times which is freezing time and moments, escaping the passing of time, the ephemeral.
ME: What influences your work?
CS: Any change to the ecosystem affects my work. I borrow from nature in a process which leaves traces of a moment in time, a certain natural expression, a gesture.
ME: What makes your work unique?
CS: Each piece is handmade and carefully thought out, one by one, following nature’s rhythms. But I also take into account which leaf or leaf fragment, pod or seed is best represented in either gold, silver or even in the black or copper patinas. It’s important to note that for the gold pieces in my collection, I use 24-karat gold that is mined responsibly in Colombia, but I also use recycled gold. For the silver collection, each leaf is dipped in pure silver; for the black and copper collection, I use ancient patina techniques.
To purchase Clara Saldarriaga, jewelry, please SURevolution’s newly launched e-commerce website http://www.surevolution.com/jewelry/collection/hand-dipped.html.
SURevolution is inspired by the culturally rich artisanal world. SURevolution’s mission is to create contemporary products for the luxury market that honor artisans' traditions, craftsmanship and our natural resources.