How the creators of the art that is worn on the skin are inspired and work

They investigate with their hands, starting from curiosity and material exploration to create pieces of contemporary jewelry, a discipline that articulates artistic creativity, the search for identity and material experimentation. From portable micro sculptures to large pieces, the production process seeks the same destination: a work of art to wear on the skin.

Bracelets, rings, brooches, earrings and necklaces make up a multiple and diverse collection. Willing to reveal the plot of their research and the seed of creativity, a group of contemporary jewelers spoke with LA NACION about inspirations and processes. Where does the idea that later translates into a jewel come from? How is the lonely work in the workshop? What sensations go through? How is an accessory shaped from a specific concept?

The experiences are intertwined. Some artists prefer to start from slogans that guide them in their search, others do not. There are those who work with preconceived ideas, and others the opposite. They mold the pieces and are attentive to what the material “tells” them: stone, paper, metal, plastic. Willing to reveal creative impulses, the authors wove their own plot aloud. Elvira Cibotti, Mabel Pena, Fabiana Gadano, Patricia GallucciSol Flores, Laura Giusti and Paula Zuker are some of the members of the Argentinian Jewelers collective, in charge of the exhibition From the workshop, there is something that needs to be told. The exhibition, which is presented at the Museo Histórico Sarmiento (Oath 2180), can be seen until August 14 and was part of the III Biennial of Contemporary Jewelry.

“Working in the workshop is quite lonely, although there are instances of sharing with others. Especially with male and female students”, says Fabiana Gadano. “Many times I find myself sharing personal situations that lead me to make artistic decisions during classes,” added Patricia Gallucci. “I am inclined to submit the pieces to the gaze of the other because that helps to reaffirm the path. In any case, the work is more individual than solitary”, defines Elvira Cibotti. “The workshop is the place to connect with the material and one’s own madness, unfold and take over everything”, emphasizes Mabel Pena.

Apparently unreal, a necklace true to its name, the work of Patricia Gallucci who worked with paper and silverHernan Zenteno – The Nation/Hernan Zenteno

The border between experimentation and involuntary accidents is not a minor issue, since jewelers usually work with fire, acids or metals that are subjected to extremely high temperatures. “Bringing material to the breaking point is a challenge that requires a lot of focus to identify when to stop. There is a certain perception of the world in the delicacy of the materials. I had to pay for 200 pieces of pottery to break because my body and hands asked me for more,” says Gallucci, who recognizes a way of doing things “from the gut.”

The artist Fabiana Gadano designed the Desvío brooch from recycled plastic water bottles
The artist Fabiana Gadano designed the Desvío brooch from recycled plastic water bottles

In a light and ethereal pendant you can trace the ant work that Elvira Cibotti does with recycled and pressed colored paper, selected from among graphic advertisements that expose female stereotypes. “I take on my own obsession to create headless female busts from 40 layers of material. The technique implies a lot of patience, the times it imposes require a lot of serenity so that the final result is the one sought”, says the jeweler.

The debris found by the Delta is the starting point for Mabel Pena; above all, the plastic supermarket bags that are left hanging on the branches when the river downspouts expose them. “Transforming plastic is fascinating, you have to let yourself go, look for shapes,” says the author of filament threads that she achieves from 3D drawings. Modulated lines of polyethylene that thicken and bifurcate. Among the repertoire of materials, the plastic bottles that Fabiana Gadano transforms into brooches or the wood that Sol Flores restores to create small playful objects also stand out. Also, the rubble of the Plaza de la Dignidad, in Santiago de Chile, which starred in the social riots in 2019 and Paula Zuker resignified in rings, necklaces and brooches. “Pieces of concrete that were transformed into stories full of meaning. The rubble as testimony, trace, evidence and heritage”, says Zuker, who specializes in working with stones“not always precious”, as she clarifies.

Recycled paper necklace and paper threads by Elvira Cibotti, who developed the Resilience series
Recycled paper necklace and paper threads by Elvira Cibotti, who developed the Resilience series

Meanwhile, Sol Flores takes the language, the questions and answers of boys and girls as a starting point to represent carousels articulated in wood. “It is one of the few, if not the only, material that while you work on it gives off a delicious perfume that envelops the entire workshop,” she says.

The authors’ workshops are usually creative bunkers where the materials are cataloged by morphology, color, origin, texture. In these personal universes of exploration, not only the hands top the list of tools. There are also cans full of brushes, shelves where files, torches, hammers and lathes are stacked. An assortment of instruments that requires precise techniques. In addition to specific utensils, there are some household items. Fabiana Gadano declares domestic iron and hair dryer. Patricia Gallucci, an electric oven to dry branches that she then immerses in porcelain.

Piece from 3D filaments obtained from waste by Mabel Pena
Piece from 3D filaments obtained from waste by Mabel Pena

In the heart of these living laboratories, the jewelers face their own blank sheets. What triggers motivate them to compose? Does a slogan help or, on the contrary, does it limit creativity? “Many times I work on pieces just because they seem pretty to me and not necessarily to tell something,” assumes Sol Flores, author of pieces that resignify merry-go-rounds and characters from Little Red Riding Hood. For Laura Giusti, the slogans help in case of “being blank”. Otherwise, during an advanced process “it is preferable not to be distracted by slogans. It always depends on the moment you find yourself in”, states the jeweler who, since 2008, has been in charge of Joyeros Argentinos and organizes, together with Paula Isola, the Latin American biennials of contemporary jewelry.

With stones from Cerro San Cristóbal de Paula Zuker
With stones from Cerro San Cristóbal de Paula Zuker

For Gallucci, the interpretations of the themes that work as triggers are “absolutely personal”. Mabel Pena confesses a certain enjoyment in translating into the language of contemporary jewelry a slogan linked to a certain theme.

But Gadano shows he is fed up: “There is a vice installed years ago, that of always manifesting itself through a concept, a demand,” he acknowledges. Zuker, meanwhile, adapts the slogans to his work: “I always prioritize what is on my work table waiting and talking to me. The slogans give me some kind of momentum. Without obeying to the letter, I stand in my shoes but in other scenarios ”, he slides.

  Little Red Riding Hood and her wolves, in wood and plastic, the Sol Flores necklace
Little Red Riding Hood and her wolves, in wood and plastic, the Sol Flores necklace

An initial level French teacher, Elvira Cibotti finds it difficult “to work without a common thread. I need content. And then the material can return something else, ”says the author of the piece Resilience, which she responded to the theme suggested for the exhibition From the workshop: what happened to jewelers during the pandemic. Graduated in Industrial Design, Gadano and Gallucci do not neglect project applications and scales. “I think of a jewel as a functional, ornamental and expressive object,” says Gallucci. Gadano is blunt: “There is a very clear divorce with industrial design, one thing is to solve configurations for a user, with serial developments, and another, to develop a unique piece. My colleagues do not understand the value of a unique piece, ”she shoots.

The exhibition From the workshop, there is something that needs to be told is presented at the Sarmiento Historical Museum (Oath 2180) until August 14.  Marita Sario Necklace
The exhibition From the workshop, there is something that needs to be told is presented at the Sarmiento Historical Museum (Oath 2180) until August 14. Marita Sario NecklaceHernan Zenteno

While Pena worked for many years in costumes and set design, Zuker worked as a photographer and Giusti studied Anthropology.

Ludovica Riccardi pendant in silver, copper, bronze and fabric
Ludovica Riccardi pendant in silver, copper, bronze and fabricHernan Zenteno

Knowledge that converges, knowledge that nourishes pieces where techniques and personal stories are intertwined. Sculptures that speak of contexts and realities and that also distinguish those who carry them. Configurations that underline expressiveness. “Those objects that we had and modeled in our hands will keep the imprint of the yearning and of our agitated breath for the discovery of that time. And there will be other hearts that accelerate when hearing our compass and there will be other hands that perceive the echo and transform it into new desires. This is about doing and giving to see. It is about lifting veils, communicating and feeling close and similar”, Fabiana Gadano wrote about the exhibition From the workshop… there is something that needs to be told.