Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Model Wears Recycled Rubber and Steel
Protection Bracelets and Jada Earrings
Awarded a “grand prize” during the 1904 World’s Fair, the cast iron statue of the god Vulcan is a symbol of Birmingham, Alabama. 

Designed by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti in 1903, the dynamic figurine stands 56 feet tall, and holds the distinction of being the largest cast iron statue in the world!

Alabama is also home to featured jewelry designer Kathleen Nowak Tucci.

Nespresso coffee pods, stainless steel brake cables, and inner tubes from motorcycles and bicycles.  

Would you believe each of these items is a component of Tucci’s imaginative and high-fashion jewelry collections?

Not since Dutch jewelry artists Sasja Saptenno and Thea Tolsma have I seen the remarkable versatility of seemingly ordinary materials.

Tucci’s lucid artistic vision epitomizes statement jewelry being that the theatrical, lightweight handmade creations speak directly to environmental awareness.

In fact, Tucci is the first “eco-designer” to have her work featured in Vogue Italia—the controversial Latest Wave issue published August 2010.

“The issue featured the theme of water and oil at the time of the Gulf Coast oil spill.  The cover was styled by Karl Templer and photographed by Steven Meisel. 

The concept interpreted the environmental crisis involving the Gulf Coast.  I thought it was disturbing and thought provoking in its interpretation of the struggle for survival,” says the nearly 30 year veteran.
Actor Lana Parilla as the Evil Queen Wearing KNT Creation on Once Upon a Time
A math and science whiz, Tucci initially studied biology and computer science in college.  Even though her school schedule was full she always found time to indulge her artistic side. 

Experimentation is a big part of her creative process and implementing inner tube rubber came about quite organically.  While testing out industrial rubber parts, she decided she needed a thinner rubber and retrieved inner tubes from a bicycle shop. 

As it turned out the rubber did not fit the demand of her project; but she was not ready to throw them away and kept them in her studio.

“The inner tubes sat in my studio for months, and one day I started to play with the rubber.  For jewelry it was a great medium to work with.  It is flexible, easy to cut and is so lightweight.  It allows me to make dramatic pieces.”

These “dramatic” necklaces, bracelets and drop earrings are a powerful display of texture and form.  There are stainless steel chain links, chainmail-like O-rings, lots of voluminous patterns and a touch of color courtesy empty Nespresso coffee pods.

“I am a color girl.  A friend of mine had some Nespresso coffee pods and I knew I found my color splash. I experimented with them for a full year before incorporating them into my designs.”

Tucci’s unparalleled dedication to her craft has won her attention.  In 2011 she was selected by the Smithsonian to appear at the Smithsonian Craft Show.  The Smithsonian’s Women’s Society subsequently selected her to attend the 2011-2012 show Craft2Wear

One of her commanding necklaces was also worn by actor Lana Parilla (Regina/Evil Queen) on an episode of the television show Once Upon a Time.

Model Wears Joy Earrings and Joy Necklace
with Recycled Rubber and Nespresso Coffee Pods
“I really just stumbled upon making work with recycled materials.  I am fortunate to always have ideas and only wish there were more time to make everything.”
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