Thursday, April 29, 2010


A relatively young architectural structure, the Netherlands' Millennium Tower is the first building constructed using the Bubble Deck flooring system, and is currently the second tallest building in the country. The Netherlands is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Thea Tolsma.

Finding other uses for objects or products is a common occurrence.

Some people use medium to large aluminum containers to pot small plants, and for many women lipstick does double-duty as eye shadow or blush.

As a kid, I use to make small trashcans by linking a few empty egg cartons using a paper plate as the base.

Bicycle inner tubes are another item from which people have found interesting, functional uses like resurrecting an inoperable key on a keyboard by inserting a small piece underneath, and wrapping a thin strip around a cigarette lighter for a firmer grip.

In the hands of a jewelry designer, however, this neutral, seeminly uninteresting material becomes something buoyant and decorative.

Dutch designer Sasja Saptenno is the first designer I learned about that worked with bicycle inner tubes. She creates what many call eco-conscious jewelry of remarkable versatility.

Tolsma also works with the material exploring its malleable properties in designs that are sleek, edgy, inventive, and sexy. From 1977 to 1986, Tolsma studied textiles at Holland's College of Art D'Witte Leli, and the Gerrit Rietveld Academy.

Intrigued by its design possibilities, Tolsma carefully compared different types of inner tube rubber to determine which kind was best suited to her ideas.

"Over the past few years, I have developed a certain craftsmanship and know exactly what type of rubber lends itself well to cutting, and which will retain its shape," she explains.

Tolsma's cutout designs are intricate patterns inspired by filigree work. Each piece highlights the smooth, black beauty of the rubber as well as the designer's incredible artistry.

Many of her necklace designs are long, draping strips featuring a single, large floral outline as its striking focal point; others are Gothic, daring and theatrical in its configuration structured more like dickeys than neckpieces.

I think it is spectacular jewelry for the obvious visual aspect, and that Tolsma has taken an unorthodox material and placed it in a context that never hints at its first life.
Photo 1 (top right): Rubber Pratensis Necklace
Photo 2 (bottom left): Rubber Underwing Neckpiece (rear view)
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