Junkyard Chic

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 23, 2012 3:41:58 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 material 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 have 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 items such as chandelier glass and,sometimes,even an old rock does the trick for me,” he says. 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,” says Pittie,now a name to reckon with in alternative jewellery. She works with bronze,thermocol,buttons,jute and fishnet among others.

Parrab agrees. She shuttles between Shantiniketan,Jaipur and Sydney to source unusual materials and retails her wares from stores such as Mumbai’s Atosa and Hyderabad’s Anonym. “I am fascinated with tribal forms and ethnic styles,” 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,” she says.

Sinha argues that what we term jewellery is no less than mini-sculptures. “I still do sculptures but they take up a lot more time. 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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