Blog | Atha Inc.
March 18, 2015

The Making Of Subterranean Swing

While at an art residency in Kathmandu I started making jewelry from scraps of cut paper leftover from paintings. The first one was a square with an empty middle from where a red circle had been cut out.

 

After many variations on the square, the paper prototype for Subterranean Swing emerged (featured in middle). Once I had a proportion I liked, I took it, along with a sketch, and went to go meet the jewelry artisans my friend had recommended.

 

Before we even started talking about jewelry, I was quite impressed with the healthy bounty of flowers in their courtyard.

 

After a couple of weeks we had a first prototype, shown here on the right.

 

Seeing the idea turn from 2D in paper to 3D in metal was amazing. Now it was all about fine tuning. We got started on a second version. I moved back to NYC and worked on the rest of the collection. After a few months I came back to Kathmandu and we began working on a third and final version.

 

Subterranean Swing is carved from buffalo horn. The way it opens and closes is unique and always surprising for someone seeing it for the first time.

 

The carved horn piece is placed in a clay mixture to make a mold.

 

The brass is put in the fire until it reaches the correct temperature and is ready to be poured into the mold.

 

The brass is removed from the mold and cooled before finishing.

 

Finishing and joining the two pieces together is the final and most time consuming step. 

 

September 18, 2014

A Day In Kathmandu

As I wander through the streets of Kathmandu on a crisp morning I take in 80's neon pink, stark black and white stripes, an emerald green satin sash…These are the immediate colors and textures that glide through my mind as I download this moment's inspiration. The moment is kinetic and fleeting, but I know the images are logged in an image bank deep inside and may surface at a later point in time. Kathmandu, a thriving city with a unique pulse, is the capital of Nepal, and located at the foothills of the Himalayas. The walk fuels me for the day ahead that I'm about to spend in my studio located behind the historic Patan Durbar Square.
 
I’m a painter. I’ve been painting for four years and in the last year my practice has expanded to include other disciplines. In any given week I may switch between work on a painting, a print for a scarf or a sketch of jewelry prototypes. Alongside my traditional paintings, I’ve started experimenting with fashion. The combination of the inspiring mountains, the access to skilled craftspeople, and a thriving textile industry make Kathmandu the perfect place for this new direction to take off. My earlier paintings are clearly inspiration for the fashion pieces I’m making now. I see how elements of paintings like Hayfever In An Expanded Universe and VegasBaby relate to my scarves and jewelry.

Now in the studio, I stick a small grass green rectangle under a jagged lemon yellow shape tied in a ribbon of black paper. I look at it for a long time and wonder what else it needs. I started with the yellow shape, gave it dots, then the ribbon, now the green. Ten, 15, 20 times as many options were held up and refused. I know I may not figure it out today, or even tomorrow, it may be a month later when I finally find what it needs.

At a natural stopping point, I pivot and return to the large drawing I will give to the screenprinters later today. They will create a screen that will be used for printing on scarves. Nepal has a rich history of weaving cashmere, creating a print for a scarf was a natural place for me to start exploring textiles.

Later on in the week, I’m cutting pieces of paper and putting them on my wrist, holding them out and reviewing the shapes. A friend who lives in my building recently introduced me to craftsmen who work in brass and silver. After visiting their workshop and learning about their capabilities, I was so ecstatic with the idea of making jewelry that I dove right into sketching and making paper prototypes that they could use to make a first sample.

The balance between being alone in the studio and working collaboratively with the craftspeople has brought me so much joy. Before I leave Nepal we are able to finish a few samples of scarves and jewelry pieces that will be the starting point for a larger collection. I plan to return to Nepal at the end of the summer to do a small production run. 

On a long bus ride up to the mountains I remember an older woman wearing her hair in a long braid, a thick strand of green beads on top a hot pink t-shirt of black swirls and rhinestones above a bright blue floral skirt. Like the 80’s neon pink before, the color combinations and her spirit are logged somewhere in my memory, inspiration to be accessed later.