Meet the Maker - Aleksandra Vali
Come inside the world of wearable sculptures crafted by Aleksandra Vali. From the USA, EA talks to Aleksandra about her creative process and her transition from ceramic sculptures to jewellery. We touch on where she draws her inspiration and how she chooses the final designs. This Meet the Maker interview is a fascinating glimpse into the world of this award-winning jeweller.
EA. Your work relies heavily on form, textures and contrast, balanced with a fluidity of movement to create a harmony that many artisans strive for but do not achieve as successfully as yourself, what single influence has been instrumental in the development of this particular aesthetic?
AV. Every artist will have his or her own process. It’s similar to cooking, the differences between various recipes is a matter of ingredients and style of combination. With my jewellery designs, my unique style components involve shape and details. I don’t just see shapes, I feel shapes. The shape and conformity of a stone will influence my design for that stone. Likewise, I’m very attuned to details and connections between things and people; I think they are as important as the broader design of the piece. Details for me are about textures, layers, depth - creating a visual representation of a feeling or emotion, a complex relationship between two people in love, or a stunning piece of nature. Details - in the inspiration for the design and in the design itself - these are the key to my work.
EA. You draw by hand many of your designs. Do you find your work translates best to being hand-drawn as opposed to using CAD programs?
AV. Yes. I prefer to hand-draw all of my designs because I feel that I have a more natural flow between the spark or idea and the final design. Sketching designs allows me to play with dimension and depth as well as fluidity to bring the idea for a design to life. This is something that cannot be replaced by machines. Think of it as the difference between emotionless computer-made music and a full-spirited concert performance with live musicians.
EA. Do you draw multiple variations of the same design until you find ‘the one’, or is it a more immediate process resonating from one particular thought requiring only one sketch?
AV. This part of the process varies. Occasionally, I come up with an idea for which I create a few different sketches, and other times I start carving a piece right away. All designs start with a spark; some quickly burst into flame and the design spills out of me into a sketch or carving. Others spin around in my brain until all the design aspects fit the materials I want to use. I get a special kind of energy from every design and the process is more a product of that energy than any set process.
EA. Your original medium of choice was Ceramic and working as a sculptor, what influenced you to move into the smaller scale medium of precious metals and jewellery making?
AV. I always liked working on the details and fine points of any artistic creation. When I had the chance to learn jewelry-smithing techniques, I was intrigued, at first, and then totally captivated by the possibilities. I can do so many more things with texture, depth, weight, fine lines, embellishments with stones and wires and other objects. I was immediately excited about this medium; I feel a whole new universe of creativity as I design with metals and stones.
EA. Many jewellers rely on the process of creating samples from non-precious metals to refine their designs. Is this something you do?
AV. I create all of my models in wax first, then, if I am confident in the design, I go straight to casting the piece in silver or gold. Wax is easier to use than a metal for the design model yet it still allows me see how the final piece will work. Sometimes, a wax model doesn’t look the way I want the final design to work, so that model won’t get cast. Still, by using wax for my models, I’m ready to cast any design I think should be produced in metal.