Precious Kitsch

Three years ago,Sutopa Parrab was holidaying in the oasis town of Erfoud in Morocco when she chanced upon a site being excavated.

Written by VIDYA PRABHU | Published:February 22, 2012 12:38 am

With costume and art jewellery expected to become one of the biggest fashion trends this year,designers are using fossils,clay,utensils,nuts and bolts and new materials in their creative pursuits

Three years ago,Sutopa Parrab was holidaying in the oasis town of Erfoud in Morocco when she chanced upon a site being excavated. “I realised that the place was a dried-up lake; I even saw a small shop selling the water creature fossils that had been dug out. I went inside,only to walk out with a bagful of them,” she recalls.

But Parrab is not a collector of fossils; she is an architect-turned-jewellery designer who uses unusual objects (in this case,fossils) to create her pieces. “I don’t work only with semi-precious stones,I use anything and everything that catches my eye,” she explains.

The 53-year-old is one of a small,but growing,set of jewellery designers who are using interesting objects to come up with alternative jewellery. This is a significant trend as costume jewellery is expected to be one of the biggest trends of 2012.

“I am fascinated with tribal forms and ethnic styles and continue to be inspired by the places that I travel to — in India and abroad. I have used bakelite beads from Ghana,dokra beads from West Bengal,and ghunghrus and cowbells from Rajasthan,among other things,” explains Parrab,who shuttles between Shantiniketan,Jaipur and Sydney,and retails her wares at Mumbai’s Atosa and Hyderabad’s Anonym stores,among others.

Interestingly,Parrab,apart from her experience as an architect,has also trained in ceramics,painting and sculpture. This,she admits,has influenced her work as a jewellery designer. “Knowledge of other related creative fields only expands one’s horizons,” she says.

Sculptor-turned-jewellery designer Narayan Sinha couldn’t agree more with her. He creates jewellery items using some of the most mundane things. “I source old brass plates,nuts,bolts,screws and other junk from scrap dealers. Besides this,I also use other interesting items such as chandelier glass and,sometimes,even an old rock does the trick for me,” he says.

For Sinha,these jewellery items —which are retailed at Ogaan,Mumbai and Delhi — are no less than mini-sculptures. “I still do sculptures but they take up a lot more time and space. The jewellery pieces are easier to make and they cost less,which makes me reach out to more people through my art,” says the Kolkata-based craftsman.

Jamini Ahluwalia,on the other hand,is using natural products more than ever before. She points out that in today’s age,the popularity of organic products is soaring. “For a recent show at Bandra’s Yoga House,I used beads dating back to the 1980s. They were made out of clay and wood — mainly silver oak,teak and ebony — by the artisans of a place called Channapatna in Karnataka. Besides these,I have also used horn,crochet and jute in the line,” she says.

Furniture designer Shahid Datawala too,deserves a mention for his unorthodox jewellery. Be it the copper neckpieces that depict the city’s underground maze of pipeworks or his latest collection called Table wear that consists of bent,beaten and twisted cutlery,it’s clear that Datawala weaves in his furniture-related expertise with jewellery.

“The current jewellery landscape reflects the changing tastes of the modern woman,” sums up Suhani Pittie,a jewellery designer,who works with bronze,thermocol,buttons,jute and fishnet among other things. “Two weeks ago,I used bronze mixed with uncut crystal and enamel to make a neckpiece for a bride,who then paired it with her traditional Kerala sari. Another bride wore a grungy neckpiece that had multiple mixed-metal chains passing through a vintage diamond-studded pendant. Women are now open to experimenting and this encourages us to act on our creative whims,” she says.

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