Una Artesana: A Jewelry Project

     I’ve always wanted make the leap from designer to maker. For as long as I can remember I’ve always loved working with my hands to create things, so learning to craft jewelry myself was the next logical step in becoming an actual jeweller. To start, I was supposed to take metal smithing classes earlier this year, but as with many other things, the pandemic put a halt to those plans. 2020, amirite?


(Above) One of the plans that didn't pan out was the release of my third collection, which I've made the heart-wrenching decision to postpone to next year.

     I then realized that just because I couldn’t learn metal smithing right now, that didn’t mean I couldn’t explore other jewelry-making techniques. So I took matters into my own hands and challenged myself to work with the materials I already had at home and learn a new technique.

     Presenting my latest jewelry project, Una Artesana! You’ll notice I say ‘project’ instead of ‘collection’ or ‘brand’. That’s because it's more than just an offshoot of my main line. While of course the designs I’ll be posting will be available for purchase, Una Artesana is also a space where I can explore my creativity through different materials and techniques. A place where I can share the creative process, from coming up with a design to its execution, and all the challenges along the way. I might eventually apply what I learn to my main line of jewelry, so this may also be a springboard of sorts for future collections. We'll see!


(Right) Preview of the goodies I've been working on!

     If you’ve tuned into my Instagram stories over the past few months you’ll know that I recently hauled out my stash of beads and findings, and also came into possession of even more beads that my sisters found during quarantine clean-up. I thought I could start working with these, but I was at a loss as to what to do with them besides stringing them together. After much scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram looking for "seed bead jewelry", that's when I discovered bead weaving. I taught myself some basic techniques with a little help from professors YouTube and Google, and slowly started to develop designs from there.

     I'd just like to say, it is very liberating to craft something yourself. My main jewelry line can be quite dependent on third party suppliers, so sometimes I have no choice but to tweak my designs to suit the production methods they're used to because they're unwilling to experiment with different techniques. Working firsthand with the material, beads in this case, allows me to fully explore design possibilities and make creative decisions as I go. I can't wait to work with more materials and techniques in the future!


(Left) A few of the beads from my stash and those that we found around the house. (Right) My first attempt at bead weaving. I didn't know it would take so long (over 4 hours!) nor that it would involve so many needle pricks. Don't worry, I've gotten better over time.

     As far as design, I wanted to have a theme to work with, so I thought I'd combine my ever-growing interest in my culture with my love for craft. Like my main brand, the pieces I’ve been working on for Una Artesana are inspired by Filipino culture, particularly mythology and folklore.

     I’ll be the first to admit that I only know a handful of local folktales and hardly anything about Filipino mythology. I grew up completely obsessed with all things mythological, yet I never knew the Philippines had its own mythological pantheon until I started looking into it over the past few months. I figured there must be people like me who might not know much about our ancient beliefs, so I thought I could share our stories by interpreting them through jewelry.

 (Left) A couple of reference books that my research assistant *really* loves. (Left) Can you guess the theme of the first drop?

     The way I’m approaching Una Artesana is going to be different from how I do things with my main line. Firstly, for now I'll be keeping Una Artesana separate from my main collections, so I won't be listing and of the work I do there as products on this site. If you're interested in purchasing any pieces, please get in touch through @una_artesana on Instagram. Most, if not all, pieces will be made to order.

     Second, I won't be doing “collections” in the formal sense. Una Artesana will be an ongoing project, so I’ll be rolling out designs as I go along. These designs will fall under "volumes" with themes inspired by Filipino folklore and mythology. 

     Lastly, like everything in life, this project will be continually evolving as we go along. I don't plan on sticking to beads, rather I'd like to explore more materials and techniques in the future.

     To be completely honest, as a creative it’s impossible not to feel vulnerable when putting my work out there, and I can’t help feeling even more so with this project because it is so personal to me. It’s very different from my main line of work, not only in material and design, but also because everything is and will be handmade by me from start to finish. Yes, there’ll be plenty of stumbling around and making mistakes, and no, not everything will be perfect. But that’s ok. This is the first step in my journey to becoming una artesana, an artisan, and that’s actually pretty exciting. I hope you’ll join me on this new adventure!

– Susanne

 


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