Marina Eliasi walks us through the journey into making her incredible wearable art pieces. She has an extensive range of unique skull and stone pieces, featuring macabre symbols and both precious and semi-precious stones. Her talon rings are her most notable pieces; they are dramatic and perfectly reflect the individuality of her craft to create exquisite statement pieces. Her imagination has allowed her to produce a body of work that provides dramatic colours and intricate cuts that compliment and form themselves around the wearer. These organic elemental forms are an expression of her aching to build something that didn’t fit into the norm.
Stone Sparrow Designs piece are truly handmade, beautiful made to order, one of a kind pieces, that will make your personal expression come to life. I recently interviewed Marina about her process, background, and what inspired her to make these pieces. Keep an eye out for her new feature wall pieces showing in the online gallery collection 18th of November at Hudson Hughes Gallery.
Stone Sparrow Design
What first led you in the direction of making jewellery?
I went to Massachusetts College of Art in Boston for my undergrad studies. While there I majored in Architectural Design and Art History, but the electives were always my favorites. I took a small metals class while there and learned most of the basics. I couldn’t afford to keep it up during the remainder of my time in school or for a long time afterward, so I mostly abandoned my tools for almost 20 years before picking them back up again for real a few years ago. Since I started again, I’ve taken a short refresher class, but I mostly learn by trial and error.
I moved to NYC in my mid 20’s with the thought in the back of my head that I’d find the courage to walk into a gallery with my work (I always thought of myself as an illustrator or a painter), but I always blanched and walked out. I’m not very good at self-promotion and I realized pretty quickly that without knowing anyone, I wasn’t getting in anyway. The internet has made all that easier and when my girls were babies, I had some things on Etsy for a while – drawings and a few woodcut prints. After my youngest was in school full time, I had the aching to build something I could hold, so I dusted off my hammers and saw and made some stuff and haven’t been able to stop since. I really started making jewelry to have something to do when my kids were at school, but I quickly got a strong following on the internet and my customer base has supported me through all my phases of making. It’s wonderful and scary and stressful to live up to their expectations at times, but I wouldn’t have had the courage to put anything out there at all if it wasn’t for them.
What has been the most important jewellery-making skill you’ve learned and why?
I don’t know that I’m very good at making jewelry. I start off with a drawing and then challenge myself to make it into something that can be worn. Most of the things I make are not intended for comfort / daily wear, like usual jewelry, but to make a statement – whatever that might be for the person who chooses the piece. I guess, the most important skill I’ve learned is how to translate my 2D idea to 3D and not to give up if it doesn’t turn out right the first time.
What are your favourite materials to use in your pieces? Which are that ones that you like to work with often and why?
My pieces are made out of sterling silver, fine silver, gold and various stones (semi-precious and precious). Metals are fascinating materials to work with because the limits for their possibilities end at the skill of the maker. I constantly try to push my limits – I find it endlessly exciting.
Your jewellery is so unique and incredible! Where does the idea for a piece begin? Are there any particular influences to your designs?
I read a lot and do a fair amount of staring off into space looking for head quiet. I have never “fit in” with most around me and I’ve never complied with fashion trends or whatever, and I think my jewelry might reflect that. I want my things to be as unique as I can possibly make them. I have one design that has become popular, but I do love making it, so I won’t discontinue them because of their popularity, but I’ve noticed that if I find myself too on trend, I tend to veer away in a different direction. My pieces are influenced a whole lot by my own experience of emotion. I’ve been working on an emotion series for the past year and its so fun trying to match my feelings with something I can hold and make it wearable. When I was a kid, my father was a big advocate of emotion suppressing – I’ve come into adulthood completely the opposite and wear all of my feelings on my sleeve.
Do you have a favourite piece from your own collection?
My favorites change as the challenges change. I’ve loved some for getting past particular skill hurdles and others for turning out as I’ve envisioned. I think my Sparrow’s talon rings are my most loved by my customer base, but the emotion pieces are more where I’d like my work to continue to go. I have a piece of mine from an earlier skill set that I cracked the silver during fabrication and never sold it because of its imperfection, but I wear it constantly. It’s definitely been my most complimented piece I have of my own when I wear it out. It depicts a bird with a giant turquoise belly and on the reverse; it says Freedom, which has been a very recurring theme in my work. Birds or wings and the idea of flight and free-ness are almost always present in my work – even the darker themed pieces.
Do you design your pieces for a certain type of woman or man? If so, who do you feel is attracted to wear your pieces?
Honestly, I think I design my pieces for myself, but I rarely keep any of them. I think my customer base might be attached to me on a personal level – I’m pretty intimate with them on my socials and I share the bits of myself that the particular piece came from whether it’s a memory, experience, emotion, health challenges or literary passages. I think my work is made for whomever connects to it and I don’t think I have one particular kind of person that likes what I offer – the people that wear my things range from young to old and from all walks of life.
What new projects are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m working on summer motherhood, but in a few weeks, I’ll be back and hitting my bench hard for my next collection release “Sticks, Stones and Broken Bones”. It will have a few new pieces from my ongoing emotion series, illustrative saddle rings, and talon rings, among other things. I’ve also been working on a few larger scale relief sculptures intended for the wall rather than the body – those will contain a few ideas I’ve had that couldn’t be pared down enough to make wearable to get the intention clearly across. Those kinds of pieces are scary for me to put out because of the uncertainty of reception, but I’ll never get past that challenge if I don’t try.