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Jewellery Made of an Artist’s Recycled Scrap Silver

By Bianca Husodo

The Scoria earring, one of the pieces the jeweller and textile artist Erin Considine made to accompany New York-based knitwear label Lauren Manoogian’s Spring/Summer ’20 collection.
 
Courtesy of Lauren Manoogian
The Scoria earring, one of the pieces the jeweller and textile artist Erin Considine made to accompany New York-based knitwear label Lauren Manoogian’s Spring/Summer ’20 collection.

At the outset of Erin Considine’s foray into jewellery-making, a co-worker told her that her designs were “very you.” A remark made in jest, but to Considine, it was as amusing as it was jabbing. “She was basically saying, ‘Good luck selling anything’,” says the Brooklyn-based jewellery designer. But she realised her co-worker’s observation wasn’t entirely off: In Considine’s mind, she is her own ideal customer persona. It has never occurred to her to make anything but pieces she would actually want to wear herself.

Considine launched her eponymous jewellery label in 2010. For years, the label functioned as a wholesale line, producing seasonal collections in lockstep with the fashion calendar for boutiques in the US and Japan. “In 2019, I decided to pull away from wholesaling and refocus my studio practice to limited capsule collections,” she says.

“The jewellery market is so overly saturated with companies and individuals making the same thing over and over again, and there is nothing wrong with that,” notes Considine, “but I think the artist’s job is to filter through the landscape of the market, past and present, and make it your own.”

Courtesy of Lauren ManoogianConsidine’s pieces for Lauren Manoogian. Left: The ‘Basalt’ ring. Right: The ‘Slab’ bracelet.
Considine’s pieces for Lauren Manoogian. Left: The ‘Basalt’ ring. Right: The ‘Slab’ bracelet.
Courtesy of Lauren ManoogianLeft: The ‘Slag’ earrings. Right: The ‘Strata’ choker.
Left: The ‘Slag’ earrings. Right: The ‘Strata’ choker.

Her very first encounter with jewellery-making took place in 2002 in a metal workshop led by Arlin Fisch, an artist known for incorporating the techniques of weaving into her metal artworks. Considine — who is also a fibre artist and was, at the time, working on small-scale sculptures out of textiles and wires — became enamoured by Fisch’s collapsing of the two mediums which, before the workshop, seemed to be worlds apart from each other. “The tools felt familiar too,” she recalls. Brought up by parents who are both interior designers, Considine was already drafting floor plans as a child, deftly navigating specialised tools like X-Acto knives and electric erasers. Metalsmithing thus was almost immediately second nature to her. “I liked the precision of metalsmithing and the tactile immediacy of being able to execute an idea at the bench from start to finish,” she says.

This hands-on approach, combined with her technical know-how of textile and metalsmithing, was perhaps what organically spurred her ongoing creative alliance with knitwear designer Lauren Manoogian. In Brooklyn, Considine and Manoogian occupied adjacent studios. Their partnership can be traced back to 2014, when Considine hand-forged a silver pin, shaped like a long and narrow half-moon, to complement Manoogian’s signature throw-on coat. “I had one of her first Capote coats,” says Considine, “and it just made sense to make a pin to fasten it closed for blustery days.”

Since then, the duo has continued working together. Manoogian would present her collection’s fabric swatches and colour palette, and give Considine carte blanche to interpret these elements into an accompanying jewellery capsule collection. Their collaborative process, says Considine, is mostly based on an unspoken creative understanding.

Courtesy of Erin ConsidineLeft: Torching scrap silver. Right: Considine in her studio.
Left: Torching scrap silver. Right: Considine in her studio.
Courtesy of Erin Considine; courtesy of Lauren ManoogianLike the other pieces from the same series, the surface of the ‘Cirro’ bracelet is deliberately made rough and craggy.
Like the other pieces from the same series, the surface of the ‘Cirro’ bracelet is deliberately made rough and craggy.

Most recently, for Manoogian’s Spring/Summer ’20 collection, Considine debuted a series of jewellery made entirely of recycled .925 sterling silver. In her studio, she gathered scrap silver and heated them until molten. Semi-liquid, the metal was then manipulated using a torch into a motley of shapes. “The process I landed on was about letting the metal flow, using the flame from my torch to move the silver to a certain threshold between molten and solid,” the designer explains.

At closer inspection, the pieces — two asymmetrical earring designs, two bracelets, two rings and a choker — are texturally craggy. This is in fact meant to be a mirroring of Manoogian’s philosophy in dealing with her materials.

“So often, Lauren lets the fibres speak for themselves in an organic, fluid way with an eye for form, geometry and the body,” says Considine. “I wanted to take a similar approach with metal.” The choker, for instance, was sculpted in its semi-molten into a step-like form that mimics the zigzags on Manoogian’s structured pullover.

“Jewellery is such a personal and individual form of expression; it's a beautiful, vast and varied landscape,” she posits. The designer understands that the platform of self-expression her pieces provide her, at the end of the day, doesn’t stop when the making stops. Rather, it extends its journey in the hands of their wearers. “I love the craft and technique, and how things go together and fit the wearer physically,” she says, “but most of all, how a person will filter that through their personal style.”


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