Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Plastic Fantastic

My love for plastics began before the age of 10, when I used to take yogurt cups, color them with crayons and then “slump” them in the oven. They became these cool, colorful disks that I would then turn into mobiles and hang all over the house.

The fascination continued through my youth as I experimented with Timaplast plastic crystals, which is similar to Makit and Bakit sun catchers in America. I created hundreds of little plastic stained-glass-like creatures baking them in our oven on a cookie sheet.

In the 80s, I went to the School for Glass and Jewelry at Neugablonz in Germany. Neugalblonz is a small town known for manufacturing gorgeous glass beads and buttons. As part of our first year curriculum, we had a class in lampworking glass beads.

In response to the color trends of the time, students played with vibrant anodized metals, discarded glass beads from the factory and other bold materials. However, after much materials exploration I found my way back to colored plastics, which are more forgiving to work with than glass.

Plexiglas bangles with sterling clasp; Green plexi earrings, sterling; Puzzle rings, Plexi and sterling

After graduation, in my jewelry studio I set up a simple plastics workshop complete with toaster oven and other rudimentary heating equipment. It took some trial and error, a lot of patience and some luck, but I was able to create a line of jewelry pieces that incorporated both my trademark industrial-looking metals with playful plastics and even interchangeable parts. The plexi-bracelets became very popular and I still sell them to this day.
Flower rings, plexiglas and sterling; Layered plexiglas cuffs; Puzzle rings can be worn separate or as a set.

In the 90s when I came to the United States, I was influenced by the grand size and scope of the buildings and spaces; it made me want to create larger pieces. I took classes at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, which encouraged mixing medias. I played with stone carving, photography, computers and applied my sculptural approach and my adoration for plastics to lamp-making.
Green plexiglas strip lamp, brass; Triangle plexiglas lamp, brass with frosted plexi rods; Pink plexiglas strip lamp

While I was enchanted by light, color and design, I later concluded that producing lamps on a larger scale was cost-prohibitive. Although, I still enjoy an occasional one-of-a-kind commission. 

Today, my love affair with plastics is still strong, but I have found new influence in organic materials and have replaced a lot of the pop color with a slightly more subdued palate rich with textures. However, I still find myself drawn to “old” glass beads and gemstones that are reminiscent of the colorful influences in my past.
Red stingray bracelet with sterling clasp; Rare elbow millefiori beads and sterling; Moth necklace, handmade sterling chain
Old bohemian glass beads with 18K gold; Two stingray bracelets with gemstones; Colorful vintage czech glass beads sterling.

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