Monday, January 23, 2012


Sterling Silver Cold Shoulder Necklace
Located off the northeastern coast of New Zealand are the rugged landscapes of Poor Knight Islands. 

The islands are a prime locale for activities on the land and in the water including snorkeling, scuba diving and hiking.  New Zealand is also home to featured jewelry designer Mia Straka.

 The graduate of Unitec’s Design and Visual Arts School--who would love to raid the “costume department from the film Moulin Rouge”--blends contemporary art with fashionable ideologies. 

Whether her collections are for exhibition or for sale at a boutique she maintains this peculiar hybrid of high-concept meets high-fashion.

It is fascinating to see how she brings often complex ideas to life through an assortment of materials such as embroidery thread, sterling silver and found objects.  For instance, she made a diamond grit sanding disc into an unusual brooch pin. 

The brooch pin is not a glamorous piece but the fact she stepped outside the box and chose to make a polishing item into a piece of jewelry is interesting to me.  She actively engages her imagination to make the ordinary into something more sublime.

Her take on the bangle bracelet, the Hula Bangle, includes a small fringe of sterling silver that surrounds the bangle like a grass skirt.  She also has a wishbone necklace wherein she incorporates actual wishbones that are “individually reinforced and wrapped with silver wire and contours to the shape of the neck.”
Sterling Silver Window Brooch Pin
 The idea behind her Scribble Collection—the items of which look exactly the way you would imagine—takes a “continuous fluid line” that wraps and twists to “emerge like sketches; light but voluminous.” 

The end results are these ethereal, abstract forms of web-like sterling silver and 18-karat gold.  As I have already referenced, much of Straka’s modern jewelry designs are not conventionally pretty.   With that said, I feel aesthetic beauty is not always what makes a piece of jewelry visually interesting and Straka openly challenges traditional perceptions.

“I have been making contemporary jewelry since 2001.  I employ metalsmithing techniques as a base from which to explain my own way of working,” she explains.

“Historically, jewelry has been primarily a signifier of wealth and social status; contemporary jewelry seeks to question these values.  I place value primarily on the care, thought and skill invested in the making of jewelry and the connections people make with it.  Jewelry that is treasured as a symbol of meaning deserves this consideration.”
Fine and Sterling Silver Hula Bangle Bracelet

Since 2001 Straka’s conceptually bold jewelry collections has been exhibited at galleries in Switzerland and New Zealand.  

A selection of items from her collections is available at Fingers Contemporary New Zealand Jewellery Gallery.  Be sure to check out her website for additional information.
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