Nuts about nuts

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 | Pune | Published: February 23, 2012 2:08 am

With costume and art jewellery billed as one of the biggest fashion trends of 2012,some Indian designers are using fossils,clay,utensils,nuts and bolts and other 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 hitherto unexpected materials objects to create alternative jewellery. This is a significant trend as costume jewellery is expected to be one of the biggest trends of 2012. Many new names have now cropped up among this genre of designers. In the last few years,if Suhani Pittie of Hyderabad and Eina Ahluwalia of Kolkata explored artistic and conceptual jewellery,now there is Narayan Sinha,a craftsperson from Kolkata and even furniture designer Shahid Datawala who do distinctive work.

Sculptor-turned-jewellery designer Narayan Sinha,creates jewellery items using some of the most mundane materials. “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. Whereas Mumbai-based Datawala makes unorthodox jewellery. Be it 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,” comments Suhani Pittie,now a name to reckon with in alternative jewellery. Pittie 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.

Parrab agrees adding that she shuttles between Shantiniketan,Jaipur and Sydney for sourcing unusual materials and retails her wares at Mumbai’s Atosa and Hyderabad’s Anonym stores,among others. “I am fascinated with tribal forms and ethnic styles. I have used bakelite beads from Ghana,dokra beads from West Bengal,and ghunghrus and cowbells from Rajasthan,among other things,” she explains. Apart from her experience as an architect,Parrab 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.

Well known Mumbai based designer Jamini Ahluwalia says she uses 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.

Sinha argues that what we ostensibly term jewellery 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,” he says.

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