Handmade and Hot: MUSIBATTY
We just love this jewelry collection by Jennifer of MUSIBATTY in Mexico. Please have a read of the interview below and find out how this wonderful collection came together…
Who are you and where is your workshop?
I am Jennifer Musi, I design a line of hand-made jewelry called MUSIBATTY. My workshop is in the beautiful Condesa neighbourhood in Mexico City, which is where I grew up.
How and why did you start your business
I was a ceramic sculptor for many years, during which time I lived throughout the US and Canada. There, I found it harder to work as my pieces kept getting bigger and my workspace smaller. I moved back to Mexico in 2008 with the intention of setting up a ceramic studio, but on a visit to Taxco, a town that makes most of the silver jewelry in the country, I found nothing I liked, so I decided to take a jewelry-making course to make my own designs. It was always clear to me that I wanted to make a living doing what I loved, and suddenly I had more passion for jewelry-making than I ever did for sculpting in clay. It took me a year to make pieces I’d like to wear, but as soon as I had a small collection, I was accepted into a juried design fair that takes place every two months in Mexico City. For each of the next 10 fairs, I made a collection of one-of-a-kind pieces. Having to design and make 15-30 different rings, necklaces and earrings for each fair was a great exercise to develop my creativity and personal vision. Selling directly to people was also a great learning experience. I saw my work on all body types and ages and received direct feedback from the women (sometimes men) who were attracted to my work.
Why do you hand make your products? What do you get out of it?
Before making jewelry I was a sculptor, and before that I painted and etched on metal, so making things with my hands has always been a part of my life. Even as a girl, I would build my own dollhouses from scrap wood and make Barbie dresses from stockings and glitter nail polish. I love the immediacy of imagining something and making it with my own hands right away. My designs also develop as I make a piece. I always begin with a simple sketch, but I adapt to what the piece needs once it is three-dimensional.
How long does it take to make your pieces?
Once I choose a sketch that I like (I draw everywhere I go, and have lots of sketchbooks filled with ideas), I see what materials I have to work with and begin constructing the piece. I began my business with a $10 dollar investment, so I am used to working with materials I have at hand and adapt my design to that. Sometimes I take a few days to make a ring, sometimes a few hours, depending on how complicated the piece is to make. About half of my pieces are one-of-a-kind and the other half I duplicate using the lost wax casting technique. In order to reduce costs, I usually cast the most elaborated pieces and hand-build the simpler ones.
The Four Leaf Necklace ($262) took me about a week to complete
The Concentric Ring ($162) took me two days
I made the Aztec Ring ($262) in three days
What is your studio/work space like?
I work at home in a room that is both my office and studio. It is part of a 1940′s building that is rustic and quaint. Although my work is monochromatic, I love happy colors in my living space. My studio consists of a workbench and basic tools: a chef and a plumber’s torch, a foredoom tool, files, saws and steel punches. The silver wire and sheet are made for me in a funky downtown studio that uses Spanish machines from the 1920′s and has pictures of naked women on the walls, typical of Mexico, where jewelry is traditionally a male profession.
What new products do you have in mind for 2012?
I want my work to always be dynamic, so I will be constantly adding new pieces to my current collection, this includes a new line of rings for men, and a line of women’s rings using natural gemstones. I am also going to cast pieces from my current collection in bronze.
How would you like your collection to grow? And where would you like to see it sold?
This year I am focusing on increasing my production and promoting my work online. I want my jewelry to sell all around the world, and I want to sell it directly through my website.
What is the best thing about what you do?
I make jewelry that is unique and powerful. I take great care in making each piece of jewelry work visually as best as it can, whether it is one-of-a-kind or part of a series. For me, it is important that edges look and feel rounded, that the finish has the perfect sheen (like that of an old key), and that the marks of making remain, so the piece feels vibrant and not mass produced. I see each jewelry piece as a small sculpture that has to also look and feel great when I wear it. Although I tend to make powerful statement pieces, I also like combining them with smaller every day items that are as minimal as I can make them. I decided from the start to only make pieces I love and would wear and I continue to do so, a decision that keeps me from guessing what will sell, and focus instead on being present to what each piece needs.
Jennifer Musi, Diseñadora
Tel: 5552 1891
Thanks so much Jennifer and best of luck with your lovely jewellery.
Gwyn & Tamra