Unique jewellery which is one of a kind
“Rękami Stworzone” in Polish means “Hand Created”. “Created” – not “made”, because the act of creation implicates a trace of the soul in the final object’s form. This jewellery is one of a kind. These pieces were handmade from the very beginning and emanate with the artist’s fantasy and unique style. They touch the heart directly because this is how the beauty works – it moves deeply. All of them can be considered works of art.
Luxury Splash of Art: I am following what you do for some time now and for me, it is an inspiration. Your work is beautiful and unique; I can see a lot of work and heart in every piece. Can you please tell me why you decided to create? When did it start and what is your background?
Iwona Tamborska: It’s very nice to know that you follow my work – thank you. For someone who creates, it is always very important to know there is an “audience”.
I started to walk this path over 10 years ago. I used to be a landscape architect. But I got sick and landed in a hospital. After the surgery, there were complications with my vocal cords (I lost the ability to speak). I was lucky enough, that my convalescence took only 4 months and I was able to speak again. It was a time of slowing down and asking myself questions about the right choices in life, happiness, regrets. I tried to live according to a new rule I gave myself: “If you would know you would die in a year, what would you want to do tomorrow?” On my list, there was a big regret – that I didn’t follow my strong need that I always had: silversmithing. During my time of picking a path of education, being a jeweller was something only a closed caste had an access to (at least in my opinion). The internet wasn’t so common, the knowledge was hidden away – so I never considered it. But after my surgery, I got very determined and found myself a 4-day course, which got me started. It was a big investment for me at that time, but I’ve never been so clear about anything before. The next years were very intense, lots of self-learning, experimenting with chemicals and materials, investing in tools, digging up the knowledge locked in the internet (there were still no tutorials on youtube, etc.), countless failures and self-doubt, moments of desperation, breaking down.
But here I am. I still experience the above, but there are some diplomas on the wall, that keep me focused and give me pride: the Saull Bell Design Award, The Krakow Scholarship for Gifted Creators, The Sydney Art School (who invited me to teach there), and the exhibition in the Chinese National Museum.
This March 2020 I was supposed to take part in Amberlook – the biggest fashion show in Poland devoted to jewellery and clothes (last year Lady Gaga’s designer took part in it), but Covid put a hold on that plans.
LSA: Through your art what do you want to tell other people?
IT: “I think of myself as a storyteller, only those stories are written with silver”. A sensitive soul can read in my jewellery stories about the beauty of the world, about how one doesn’t need to search far because all the tiny things around are magical. I practice the art of noticing, even the smallest things, try to understand how those are built and why things work the way they do. That moment is followed by appreciation and seeing its beauty. Those small details stimulate my imagination; make me see the creature/the phenomenon as something purely magical and amazing. And that is what I show in my jewellery: the magical world that we are surrounded by, the stories that might be happening around us if we could only notice them.
So, I try to tell those stories of beauty and magic around us, but also of sorrow and deep emotions that we struggle through every day – often unnoticed. And those emotions are also what makes
people more beautiful. I don’t want my jewellery to be trivial – I want it to be a statement of a soul. From time to time (in my own opinion) I manage to achieve that. And sometimes I make things just for fun.
LSA: What inspires you? Do you have an image in your head of what your next piece will look like; you follow your intuition?
IT: The idea just hits me. I see a stone, a shape, a creature – and I instantly have a picture in my head of what it could be. Sometimes I see random photography of scenery– and I know this is something I would love to always have with me. Sometimes I draw something just for fun, and after years with one look I see a potential in it as jewellery. I never draw jewellery as an object (only if a client wants me to), because I see no sense in that. So I guess what I see is moments, feelings, stories – and I translate that into jewellery.
LSA: Do you have your favourite artist that inspires you?
IT: Of course! There are many! From the past, but always eternal jewellery artists: Rene Lalique, Georges Fouquet.
And from the present ones: Austy Lee, Wallace Chan, Claudio Pino, Ilgiz Fazulzyanov, Sevan Becakci.
Outside of jewellery world: photographer Kirsty Mitchell.
Sculptors: Michelle McKinney, Małgorzata Chodakowska, Dashi Namdakov, Johnson Tsang, Yuan Xing Liang.
Painters: Klimt, Alphonse Mucha, Aya Kato.
LSA: Not only your art is unique and one-off but also your photos are very artistic and beautiful. Can you please tell me where the idea of presenting your work on young girls came from – it looks amazing!
IT: The author of those photos is Margo Skwara. She is a Polish photographer living in Luxemburg. One day, I posted a challenge, that I would send my jewellery to a photographer, who would want to create something interesting with it. I wasn’t interested in typical “product pictures”, but I wanted “stories”. Out of many, Margo wrote to me. I checked her portfolio and really loved her style. Her works, balanced with light and colour, bring to mind peaceful paintings of masters of Renaissance. One could say she paints with a camera. She is famous for creating in the “fantastic-realism” style by joining everyday beauty with elements of magic. You can check out her work on her fanpage https://www.facebook.com/margoskwara/ and her website www.margoskwara.com
LSP: What is your creative process like? And what is the most challenging part of your work?
IT: This process is long – I might have a general idea in my head, but there are always difficulties when it comes to transcribing “the story” to a wearable object – as it has to be comfortable, not too heavy, safe and well constructed. It is very different from making a sculpture, because people expect perfection and almost indestructibility from jewellery, while it has to remain light, fragile and ethereal in perception.
Sometimes, when the shape is ready, I have the biggest problem in deciding on the proper colouring – because often the object seems lifeless and “empty” until the right dynamic of shades and colours appears.
The most difficult fact about working with jewellery is, that making even the smallest amendment or change requires a lot of work. It requires removing the stone (risking it might brake), using a torch and taking the risk of destroying what already exists, cleaning the object with acid, polishing the whole item (sometimes for hours) in a lot of dirt and dust, experiments to get the right colour again, setting the stone again in full precision, gold-plating again. Often at the very end of the work, it turns out that something went maliciously “wrong” – scratches, micro-cracks, etc. And I have to start work again … This is extremely frustrating and time-consuming. The most ungrateful things are the tiniest details, that almost no one notices when they are done properly, but everyone would point out when they are not perfect (like simple fastening, prongs that hold a stone, etc.). Another thing is that even small mistakes in this form of art cost a lot, as the materials and tools are expensive, therefore the need to create is often limited by the financial resources you have.
LSA: What is your most important tool in your studio is there something you can’t live without?
IT: It is my Dremel micro-polisher. It is a small tool, which I can use precisely to polish, cut, drill, etc. Because of my highly detailed, 3D works, I would not be able to polish them manually – but still, I consider it manual work. It is literally hours that I spend with that tool working on a single object with the highest concentration. Dremel Polska was even a sponsor of silver and bronze needed to complete my Fairytale Chess pieces. In exchange, I recorded a short film showing the process of creation of those pieces with their tool.
LSA: How long does it take for you to create a piece of jewellery? Do you focus on one piece or you work on few at the same time?
IT: Counting from the creation process to getting the final form – it takes at least a month. And I don’t work on one item – I can’t concentrate like that. I have to shift my attention to about 3 works at the time. This gives me time to collect my ideas and find solutions for difficulties, which have appeared in the process.
LSA: Has your style changed over the years? How?
IT: It has changed a lot. I feel I have made huge progress in terms of skills. My works are more precise, there is more patience in them. Things that were very hard for me before, I can achieve more easily now, therefore I push myself to go further, to explore new levels of skills and techniques. I also feel that my artistic taste has grown over the years and in that sense, my works are also better. But I always feel it needs more, so I keep working hard.
LSA: Do you have the piece that you are the most proud of? Which one and why?
IT: Yes, I do – but there is a few.
The Inside Story
The main concept and inspiration behind this necklace was my surrealist drawing. It tells a story of beauty,
imagination and innocence that all of us have inside and how easy it can be hurt by those, who are greedily attracted by those features.
The innocence is represented by two people inside the rose, who are awakening. They are protected by a spiral cord that also pierces through a hand, which is trying to get the rose, causing it to bleed (garnets). To the left from the rose is a pack of winged spheres that are guarding the key-hole: the entrance to this universe. There is a tiny human trying to get to that hole from the top. The key to the rose is, in fact, held by a dragonfly-like creature, which is ridden by an archer. They are also protectors of this delicate imagination land. The piece is kept in 3 colours: red, white and black. Some parts of silver were oxidized black, some were polished and some were kept white-like, to bring out the expression of emotions in the picture. The hand and the key-hole entrance are rough and cracked, as they have a connection to the “outside” world.
This piece was a finalist in the Bead Dreams 2016 contest, USA.
The jewellery was inspired by an old Russian fairytale book. It creates a scene; where all three pieces (bracelet, ring and the thimble) play a part. The ring is a magical flying island with a bottle of real honey, which plays the role of a treasure. All the creatures in this work are racing to get it. The rider of the butterfly (thimble) does not want to take part in the race but doesn’t know that Fate is controlling her destiny in this story. The Fate is represented by the face on the bottom of the thimble.
This piece made me a finalist in the Saul Bell Design Award 2017 (USA). It was also exhibited in the National Museum in China.
This necklace was inspired by a photo from the “Wonderland” series by Kirsty Mitchell. The centre is a woman’s face, which I decided to sculpt in porcelain. She is surrounded by silver butterflies. I wanted for this piece to have a certain nostalgia and mystery, although the butterflies are often associated with happiness and lightness. After all – Kirsty Mitchell created her Wonderland as a way of coping with her mother’s struggle and death from cancer. I wanted to achieve the effect of sinking in butterflies. But a butterfly was not supposed to be a symbol of something beautiful, but a symbol of how life of fragile life can be, of the silent sadness fluttering around a soul. I wanted to show that feeling when you know a dearest person is going to die and you can’t do anything about it. The only thing you can do is to accept it. And this is the stage of acceptance, of the pain laying down on your soul, but kind of sweet and serene at the same time. The porcelain whiteness of the mask, which you wear and sink in the feeling, with which you can do nothing and which can be understood by so few. This piece was exhibited in the National Museum in China, 2017 and was selected for exhibition in the Precious Gallery during BIJORHCA PARIS 2018.
LSA: What differs you from other artists?
IT: From most jewellery artists (not all of them) – probably the fact, that my goal is not to make jewellery, but to show a piece of a soul.
LSA: How would you describe your art to someone who never saw your artwork?
IT: I create miniature silver sculptures that are usually used as jewellery.” More poetically: “I tell stories that are written with silver.” And there are often insects as a strong motif of my jewellery.
LSA: Are you working on any new project at the moment? What is your dream project?
IT: I have those “dream” projects all the time. I try to make them whenever I have time or enough materials to work with. But I would LOVE to make some fairytale jewellery for a movie.
LSA: In 2019 you had your exhibition “Beauty trapped in time – Eternal connections” – an exhibition of Polish culture in China. That is a big achievement; can you please tell me more about this? Are there any plans for more exhibitions (after the current situation calms down).
IT: The exhibition “Beauty trapped in time” was in 2018 and it was set in the Chinese National Museum (Guizhou). It was a big thing for me because I was invited as the guest of honour to China and also as a painter to make a mural in the Museum as part of a life-event. The exhibition was not mine, though. It was a group exhibition of Poland’s best jewellery artists, who create with amber. At the same time, it is the biggest Polish jewellery exhibition in the whole of Asia. The exhibition presents over 240 art pieces of 51 exquisite Polish art-jewellers. The event was huge and it was a huge success. Many government officials appeared, TV stations, not to mention the hundred thousands of people, who visited the exhibition.
After that, I went to Australia to teach at Sydney Art School, who generously “imported me from Poland” to offer me a position as a jewellery teacher. After that, I took part in an exhibition in Paris during Bijorhca (the biggest professional jewellery show). 2018 was a year full of surprises and wonders for me.
Another exhibition in China- “Eternal connections” was in 2019 and it was located in Kaifeng in the “Millennial Park”. I was also invited there in a similar manner. Both of them were organized by Mr Sebastian Tajl (who promotes Polish art in China) in cooperation with the Foreign Center of the Polish Tourist Organization in Beijing, the Polish Institute in Beijing and the International Amber Association. The honorary patronage over the events was taken by the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland.
About my other plans, which due to the Coronavirus 2020 epidemic have changed rapidly: in March 2020 I had a plan to take part in the amazing Amberlook Gala fashion show (which I’ve mentioned before). There were also plans about an exhibition in Luxembourg (under the patronage of the Consulate of the Republic of Poland), in December 2020 there were plans about another exhibitionin China.
LSA: You also designed a logo for Polish Institute in Beijing. Can you please tell me more about this?
IT: In January 2019 I was asked by the Polish Institute in Beijing to design a logo to commemorate “70 years of Polish-Chinese diplomatic cooperation”. I was especially pleased of it because I am a graduate of (among others) Comparative Civilization Studies at the Jagiellonian University, and Far Eastern culture was my speciality. I was glad that in this work I could use my knowledge from studies and my travels in Asia.
The concept of “Peony flower and pansies” was chosen above my other ideas – Peony is the most recognizable floral symbol of China. After talking with the artists in Kaifeng, I learned that, according to poets, “only something so full and so beautiful can be a symbol of China.” Depicted in the paintings – with colourful flowers and black leaves it means something noble. Pansy is a symbol of Poland widespread in China. The graphic form of the logo refers to the style of Art Nouveau, and in particular to Wyspiański’s stained glass (and wall decorations using pansies in the Franciscan Church in Krakow). During the implementation of the project, unfortunately, I found out that the idea of the whole undertaking changed a bit and my work will be used to create pins offered as a gift to guests of the Polish Institute and other personalities in China. The logo was taken over by some other idea.
LSA: What would you tell our readers? Would you like to share your advice for a starting artist?
IT: This is not an easy path. Climbing to higher artistic-craft levels requires huge sacrifices – time, thoughts, emotions, money, spending a lot of time in solitude. For me, it also required continuous training of humility and self-discipline. Perhaps finding someone who is a mentor on this path reduces these negative aspects.
Thank you for your time.
REKAMI STWORZONE – Iwona Tamborska (http://rekamistworzone.com/en/home/)
Interview by Agnieszka Kowalczewska