Jewelry collection

Bibi Van Der Velden captures the incapable with new jewelry collection

With Smoke, her latest collection, the Dutch jewelry artist has captured the most nebulous of substances in the form of jewelry. And in doing so, she created the perfect symbol of our uncertain times.

Swirls of smoke guide visitors into Bibi van der Velden’s Amsterdam studio, where her new collection is displayed on blocks of marble, referencing the artist’s work as a sculptor. In fact, the whole collection comes from a single creamy plume of marble smoke: “I made the initial sculpture before Covid hit,” explains Van Der Velden, “the lightness of the smoke later became a symbol of this period and I decided to develop into a collection. “Sculpture takes its place among the jewels on display, like the perfect interpretation of the undulating vapors carved in inflexible marble.

When the lockdown hit, Van Der Velden had just moved his family to the coast of Portugal, swapping the bustling city life in Amsterdam for a more peaceful rural existence, where his two children could grow up hiking and surfing every day. days. The time spent sleeping in their new home during the lockdown, burning candles and lighting fires, brought her thoughts back to the smoke and her marble sculpture. As a symbol that can signify both home and uncertainty, it has come to represent a strange time, a kind of rather nebulous touchstone for an unstable time.

Primarily using gold and gray and white diamonds, with accents of green tsavorites, white sapphires and gray spinels to evoke the various colors within the smoke of a dying candle, the effect is substantial. but delicate; something ephemeral made tangible. And the jewelry is very easy to wear; a gold choker surrounds the neck in swirling vapors, while a series of stackable diamond rings each make their own statement worn on the hand, but strike with fiery force when worn on a single finger. Intricate hoop earrings swirl upward from the lobe and a jeweled earring ascends the curve of the outer ear.

Van Der Velden first studied fine arts in Florence, Italy, before the School of Fine Arts in Amsterdam, then the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts in The Hague. In the evening, she also learned to be a silversmith and it was at this time that she began to collect the old objects and the curiosities which were going to be found in her first works of jewelry. She finally launched the Bibi van der Velden brand in 2005 and then launched Auverture, an organized platform offering responsible quality jewelry designed by a collective of independent artists and designers, in 2016.

She first describes herself as a sculptor and collaborates regularly with her mother, the Dutch artist Michele Deiters, on works such as the two large-scale metal heads that sit enthroned in her light-breathing studio. The two are so in sync that they work together as a unique artistic figure – they exhibited at the Taylor Piggott Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming, earlier this year – but Van Der Velden’s jewelry art is his. She is known as a naturalist, for her intricate animals and use of materials such as beetle wings and fossilized mammoth tusks, and is currently on display at Force of Nature at the Elisabetta Cipriani Gallery in London.

It’s no surprise to learn that the creative process behind the collection was completely analog; born of sculpture, then many hours spent sketching plumes of smoke from blown candles as they danced teasingly in front of pencil, wax carving, casting and setting. Gemstones are responsibly sourced and Van Der Velden often reuses existing stones to create custom wearable contemporary art pieces. Although his art is rooted in a European sensibility, the United States is a key market.

I wonder if the difficulties in translating vapor into jewelry form were part of what attracted such an artist to this particular theme. “Sure, I worked hard on Smoke; it’s always a challenge to learn new techniques and to represent something difficult to capture, ”she admits,“ and it’s different from my usual interpretations of Nature, there is an element of intuition and of fantasy. »With a fragrance also in preparation; another project started during lockdown, with olfactory-inspired packages flying back and forth across Europe, the urge to capture what is elusive seems like creative catnip. It may also be something brought on by the quicksand of pandemic life.

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