As a child, the first thing that you are taught how do to when you start to hold a pencil, is to draw consistent circles in preparation to write letters. However, Iris Saar Isaacs has taken her pieces that may look like squiggles on ordinary paper and metamorphized them to become a part of her jewellery collection. One random day, maybe a Tuesday or Wednesday I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and found this post from The Jealous Curator that I simply adored. So much so that I nearly swallowed my tongue. The work that caused me to be so stunned was Iris’ pieces. I could not believe that a jewellery designer could create such: full, luscious, clean lined images that look you like scribbles. To call her work beyond elegant is not even enough. This woman has created wearable art that literally looks like a flat object but in fact has multi dimensions and depth. I’m in constant awe of Iris… Every single time she posts something new I think to myself – how does she always do it?
RMMW: I remember stringing beads to create necklaces when I was younger, what is your first jewellery designing memory?
ISI: I have always dabbled in making bits and pieces. Ever since I can remember, I used to pull apart old scraps and reconstruct them in new ways (using glues, pliers and simple ways to attach the little bits together) to make jewellery.
RMMW: That is so funny that you should mention pulling things apart, I used to always cannibalize my necklaces to create newer ones… how did you start making and selling jewellery for a living?
ISI: I studied jewellery, sculpture and graphic design over the years. My absolute favourite was making sculpture, but very early on I realised that I cannot make a living from selling sculpture, so jewellery was a way to combine my sculpture and graphic skills while earning a living.
RMMW: I love sculpture, never created one but can imagine the tactile feeling below my finger tips – must have been an exhilarating experience to create something from a block of material… What’s your favourite piece of jewellery that you’ve made before and why?
ISI: One of my favourites is a chunky link necklace I made many years ago with silver and glass (using recycles glass bottles) … I love working with glass and used if often in my sculptures.
RMMW: The only experience I have working with glass is to create mini stained glass windows… What is the inspiration behind your beautiful pieces that look like squiggles on a paper?
ISI: They are my on-going scribbles that initially start on paper (I draw those all the time), every now and again a certain drawing will spark my interest and if I feel that it could be developed further, I then re-draw it on the computer and start manipulating the line thickness and composition until it feels right. Once it is balanced, I then decide if it is suitable for a necklace, earrings or a brooch.
I cut the shapes out of paper and continue to play with the scale and placement of lines. When I feel that it is balanced, I then transfer it to metal. This is the real test – seeing if it hangs right, balanced and in the right scale to the body.
RMMW: WOW! Paper is so delicate… It must be fun though, really affords you a chance to genuinely experiment… I have to admit, my FAVOURITE piece of jewellery is a sundial ring… Do you ever design rings as well?
ISI: Years ago, I used to make minimal jewellery with traditional materials such as gold, silver, pearls and stones. I made many rings including wedding and engagement rings. However, once I started inSync design, I decided to design and make pieces that are size free, as I stock in my work in more than 70 galleries and museum stores around the world and I cannot keep up making all the pieces in variation of colours and sizes. It gets too confusing, so keeping it size free makes it somewhat easier.
RMMW: Yes, now, that you mention it I can see the inflexibility that is housed by having to constantly create different sizes and styles… What is your favourite jewellery-making tool? And why?
ISI: My old and trusted hammer and parallel pliers. I have had them for over 20 years and still love working with them; they fit perfectly into my hand.
RMMW: I love that your favourite tool is a hammer – mine is my wire cutters… What medium do you enjoy designing most?
ISI: Sculpture. They are not restricted by size, wearability constraints or weight. They are only limited by my imagination.
RMMW: Your love of sculpture reminds me of Camille Claudel and her exquisite pieces… Where do you go or what do you look at to feel inspired?
ISI: Inspiration is all-around… I enjoy working with three-dimensional forms, I work intuitively. I tend to make minimal asymmetrical forms that are inspired by architecture and nature.
I also love to travel, and I am lucky enough to travel quite a bit while exhibiting inSync’s work internationally. I find new countries, cultures, architecture and art always brings new ideas and dimensions into my work.
RMMW: Amazing how we can simply be inspired throughout our daily lives … What has been the single most important jewelry-making skill you’ve learned and why?
ISI: Pay attention to details! It is not really a jewellery skill as such, but it is certainly a very important skill to have when making small items such as jewellery, because every detail is evident and paramount to the overall piece.
RMMW: As ever, the devil is in the details…. I can totally appreciate that as a Poet… Any new collection coming out for 2018 that we should be on the look out for?
ISI: Absolutely! Each year I add a few new designs to the existing Line and X2 Collections. This year in no different… I am currently working on new earrings, necklaces and brooches for both collections. I love the process of exploration and design.
RMMW: Oooh, can’t wait to see your new designs… Do you have any artist rituals before starting a new piece?
ISI: Not really… I collect ideas and sketches all the time, but once a year I dedicate a block of time to bring them all together and design a new collection, which I then continue to make throughout the year.
RMMW: I wonder if your collected ideas are in a notebook or little scraps of paper… I use both… We all must contend with our inner critics; how do you deal with yours?
ISI: I, like many others, often have the imposter syndrome, where I doubt and question myself, but I just keep at it and know that in the end it comes together somehow…
There is lovely quote I really identify with:
1. This Is Awesome
2. This Is Tricky
3. This Is Shit
4. I am Shit
5. This Might Be Ok
6. This Is Awesome
RMMW: Awe, that really is a lovely quote and yes, you are right. Life has taught me that things do end up coming together with patience and effort… now, that being said … If you had a super power what would it be?
ISI: Can I have several??
Healing- I could not only get rid of minor injuries like cuts and bruises, but also help ease the pain of people suffering from serious illnesses. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, and AIDs would all be history.
Telepathy – how cool would it be to communicate by reading each other’s minds? You could carry on secret conversations in public and no one would ever know.
Flying – imagine Peter Pan… no traffic jams, where you could travel anywhere on a whim and see the world from a bird’s eye view.
RMMW: Yes of course you can have several! Thank you so very much Iris for the lovely chat… I really appreciate it…