Milica from from Starseed Jewelry is guest blogging today. She lives in Belgrade, Serbia so I am delighted to be able to do this cultural exchange of sorts. I’ve invited her to share more about her work. Here’s more about Milica in her own words.
( Note: To view more of a description of the items pictured and how they were made, click on the photos.)
My academic artistic background includes a college degree in textile design and a MA in costume and fashion design.Most of the time I have worked as a designer in mass fashion industry, both in my country and in the USA.
I have always been impressed with yarns and what kind of wonders could be made from just a single piece of yarn, so my specialization was, ultimately, a knitwear design, using yarns of various gauges. Although I was trained to design garments produced on industrial machines, I have bought a “Brother” single bed knitting machine and started learning a technique that is very unique because it includes both knitting and weaving.
That had to be put on hold because I’ve got an opportunity to live and work in USA. I have spent 3 years in NYC’s garment district, working in a very fast paced knitwear industry. One of the most unusual things for me to see there ( and that was during years 2000-2003) were young, hot, fancy girls who would sit in subway metro, crocheting and knitting wonderful, colorful garments and amugurumi figurines! You are unfamiliar with amugurumi it is a crocheted or knitted stuffed toys especially popular with the Japanese people. Here’s a sample and you can read a little more about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amigurumi
In my own country, such activities were reserved for old grannies, nannies and some very old-fashioned mommies – not young girls. Items produced this way, – most of them being table cover sets or retro TV top covers—aren’t valued and are considered worthless kitsch! That was also my opinion until once I walked into an “Anthropologie” store. At first I wasn’t sure if it is a store or a museum\exhibition. That helped me understand how amazing the world of knitting and crocheting could be. I immediately fell in love with and started learning how to crochet.
Upon arriving back in my country, I decided to leave the fashion industry and to pursue making unique, handmade items. At first I worked with yarns, making various garments like tank-tops, bags, hats, scarves, hair accessories, mobile phone cases, and various appliques (like butterflies, floral motifs, etc.) .
I would embellish them additionally with beads, sequins and ribbons. Sometimes I would decorate the surface of the tightly crocheted garments with freehand embroideries, with or without beads and sequins. It all led me to making jewelry pieces, from crocheted yarns and beads until I discovered a fine gauge wire in a flower supply shop. At the time, (2008) I needed it for a different purpose, but somewhere, in the back of my mind, I had a vague vision it could be nice to try to knit and crochet with wire.
One day I ran out of yard, and my hands, now addicted to meditatively repetitive work, needed something to crochet with. I noticed the wire on the table and thought “Why not?!” and started crocheting with it. What came out seemed like pure magic. I loved that wire jewelry elements can be additionally shaped by hands or other objects and tools. At first I made a few trials, but immediately progressed to complete jewelry projects, from bracelets and necklaces, to rings and earrings. Being lightweight and with a lacy structure, they were unusually modern and romantic at the same time. I decided to make a brand and to publish my works on Blogger. In 2009 I think I was among those first on the Internet to come out with wire crochet jewelry. The beauty of it is that you only need a crochet needle, a wire, and very little jewelry supplies like clasps, ear wires, etc.
By 2011, it became widely spread and I felt I needed to progress into something else. I wanted to keep working with wire crochet, but needed some kind of wire frame around it. That’s how I found out about wire wrapping and wire weaving techniques. I enrolled in a basic level copper wire workshop, where I learned how to bend and manipulate the wire, and how to use basic tools like round nose pliers, cutters, chasing hammer, etc., how to add texture to wire with different kinds of hammers, andhow to polish and dd patina to finished pieces, etc.
Now that I am skilled with wire wrapping and wire weaving, I have started making jewelry by combining many fiber art techniques in a single piece of great complexity. My goal is to make a piece that not even I can easily reproduce. So, I combine everything: from different wires (copper, brass and silver plated) of various gauges in techniques like wire wrapping, wire weaving, wire crochet and wire twisting. Sometimes, I even make wire embroidery over finished piece, with, or without beads, for a final touch. And sometimes, even I have no idea how did I make it, at the first place.
What I love about all of these techniques combined is that I can create designs not previously planned or determined. Sometimes I do make drawings and follow the design. But I prefer to let the wire and beads show me their own way, during the design process. I never know how it will look at the end. Lately, I have started to mix wire and cotton threads and fabrics/textiles, adding new techniques like macramé, knotting, cotton thread weaving around the wire frame, etc. This way I can make a wide palette of unique items, from bridal jewelry and hair accessories, over both contemporary crochet and vintage wire wrapping pieces, to boho and tribal, eclectic style jewelry.
Instead of drawings, I like to make research, look for inspiration and make mood boards based on search results. Then I carefully plan colors, bead mix, type of wires. Usually, the bead mix alone tells me how to arrange them and what to make: a single piece like a necklace or a headband, or entire line of jewelry pieces. For a little while more, I’ll be experimenting with this kind of complexity that includes many tiny and mostly glass beads. After that I plan to work with fewer beads and to move more toward simplicity, with a bolder wire, embellished with few semi-precious stones, here and there.
You can find more on Milica’s work on her blog http://mystarseed.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook Page