For a while now I have been working on a new series concept for Classiq. I appreciate how more and more people have started to show growing interest in individual brands and handmade products, and to affirm their integrity in everyday choices. The Makers aims to showcase talented artists, from Romania and worldwide, their handcrafted goods and their commitment to their métier. It will also offer a glimpse into their studios, presenting you their creative medium, accompanied by the story behind their beautiful work.
Today I am happy to introduce you to my first guest, Romanian multidisciplinary artist Antoaneta Zoltan, amd to her distinctive, handcrafted Karakter jewellery and her studio, where all her designs come to life. She names the city as one of her sources of inspiration, she started designing jewellery when her childhood walnut was cut down and wood has since been her element, she only creates unique pieces and she wishes people appreciated more the simple things and that they would seize the day. I hope you’ll enjoy her story as much as I have.
Who and/or what inspires you? Are there any other artists you look up to?I live in an urban environment, where the city is a constant source of inspiration: complex, disparate, chaotic or bright, generous, open, it is a subject in itself. Moreover, there are things from Nature, if too deformed, because the notion of natural is constantly blurred, subjected to change and reinterpretation. The resulting mix is an artificial environment, built in such a long time that it seems natural.
Yes, I admire many artists from different areas: Tobia Scarpa, Naoto Fukasawa, Arik Levy, Tony Cragg, Anish Kapoor, Jan Ammundsen, Issey Miyake, Ela Bauer. It’s a long list.
What is the story behind Karakter? How did it all start?
I have a background in scenography and painting and I think jewellery design arose from a need for a “different” artistic expression, from the passion for object design; then from the need to imprint materiality with thoughts, feelings, emotions of my own. Karakter appeared in 2012. The walnut from my childhood was cut down, a wonderful tree that brought back touching memories. I wanted to keep a part of it, not to lose it completely. So I got the idea of playing with this new material, combining technique with experiment. I love wood, its natural textures and its colour. Since then I’ve been collecting wood pieces, bark, stones. We waste too much of them. I like turning them into valuable objects.
What is your design process like? How do you begin and bring your ideas to life?
I have a creative education and drawing helps me record my ideas, for me it is the most efficient tool to communicate a mental concept. It’s a preliminary stage. But sometimes, the finished piece is different from the sketch. It comes from the material – the wood which is very organic and has a life of its own. Manufacturing and understanding an idea cannot have the desired purpose without technical support. There is a mutual dependence and conditioning. I believe the symbolic value of the concept needs to be superior to the inherent value of the material, but it needs to be technically supported. Painting is the final, minimalist, often geometric stage. It is an accent of colour; I feel that I need it in order to invigorate the surface.
Does your jewellery tell a story?
I hope so. I have a very personal relation with the basic material, reclaimed lumber – whether it is driftwood, walnut wood or apple wood; they are all connected to my memory, correlated with a certain time, state or feeling. The pieces are conceived through grafting, giving a new shape to a hybrid, metamorphoses of familiar materials that I know and to which I relate. I believe jewellery can create a personal relationship between bearer and beholder: it can express the bearer’s personality or creativity or opinions about everyday life. I would like every piece of Karakter jewellery to create states and generate answers, to tell its story nostalgically and kindly.
Why the name “Karakter”?
Because it sounds rough, coarse, it’s just like the wood. But also because series of jewellery have such an impersonal character. The choice comes from the idea that each person is and should stay unique.
Is all your jewellery handmade? What are the materials you like to work with the most? Can you say that wood is your element?
Of course. It’s great to create things which didn’t exist up to that point. The final aspect of the jewellery is influenced by this entire process related to choosing the nature, texture, surface treatment, obtaining the shape, range of colours. And, like I stated above, all this technical support is important. At first, I had no idea about the grit size of sandpaper, chucks and drills, lacquers, milling cutters and all hacksaw blades looked the same to me! My first Dremel 4000 was a giant step! Thanks to Google and my friends! I’m aware it’s a constant process of assimilation which will take time. Yes, until now, wood has been my element – it is durable and precious, warm, rough and soft at the same time, coarse and fine, it has special nature, ranging from greenish-gray to reddish-brown and it smells fantastic!
I like to experiment new materials and techniques that are not typically used in jewellery, without being conditioned by anything. I like to see what comes out from combining opposed materials (like texture, origin, quality, message), contrasting, fragmented, organic or synthetic, patterns that don’t fit with the usual context, trying to obtain however, in the end, a final form that is harmoniously synchronized with the colour and material. In this way I’ve experimented with epoxy paste, casting resin, gold leaf, silver wire, trying to balance them with types of wood.
Do you have any other projects you are working on? Is there any other artistic medium you like to work in? I’m currently involved in “V.I.C” project. It’s a Franco-Romanian contemporary art project. I express myself in different mediums: painting, drawing, collage, graphic design, interior design. I love my studio!
“I wish people appreciated more…
… simple things. I wish they would seize the day.
Your favourite thing about Bucharest:
Bucharest is a mix of contrasts, beautiful and crazy things, it is a reeling cocktail that stole my soul. It’s the romance and the nostalgia of my young days.
Where to find and buy Karakter jewellery: on the brand’s Facebook page, in the PNK Casual shops in Bucharest (Calea Victoriei and Sun Plaza) and on AloMoDa Shop, or simply drop a line at email@example.com
photos: courtesy of Karakter Studio