One local jewellery designer has used strong female characters from history as the inspiration for her latest collection
“We need women who are so strong they can be gentle, so educated they can be humble, so fierce they can be compassionate, so passionate they can be rational, and so disciplined they can be free,” said globally-recognised advocate for gender equity and justice Kavita Ramdas.
Whose words are a quote local jewellery designer Annabelle Panossian lives by as she seeks ways to be creative and lead a meaningful life. What began as a childhood hobby has turned into art with meaning as Annabelle P. – as her brand is called – launches a collection of handmade jewellery inspired by powerful women in history. It’s a craft Annabelle has been perfecting for more than a decade.
“I first started making jewellery when I was nine-years-old,” she told Cyprus Mail. “I would buy different coloured beads and pass them through a wire or bright coloured string to make colourful bracelets for me and my friends. My neighbour and I would stay up all night with a torchlight under the blankets so my grandmother would not wake up and tell us off for not sleeping. After hearing her snore, we would switch on the light and continue beading till the morning hours.”
She began assembling jewellery with store-bought beads but in her mid-teens Annabelle got a job in an art shop and discovered polymer clay, the material that makes up the basis of her colourful, intricate work. Polymer clay hardens when baked, and comes in blocks of different colours that can mingle to form a vast range of patterns.
“It is a versatile material that can be combined with acrylic paints, alcohol ink, gold leaf and even glitter to create unique beads and eventually a unique piece,” she said and indeed her jewellery embodies all those elements.
With a dozen coloured blocks, the potential designs are infinite and Annabelle’s jewellery certainly needs a great deal of creative imagination as each bead can be a combination of colours and patterns. Some are circles or triangles, others are studs, geometric designs, ethnic patterns or polka dots.
Annabelle’s Instagram account makes it apparent that her creative outlet comes in all shapes and forms. She creates every bead by hand, a method that can be extremely lengthy.
“The process takes time and a lot of imagination. This is what I love about this material,” she smiled. “It can be combined with so many different other materials and so many household items can be used to create different textures! I even used an old toothbrush to create the effect of lava beads.”
And the effort she has gone to is obvious at the end of the day when Annabelle has sore fingures stained with dried colours while bits and pieces of clay will be scattered around her workspace, including a pasta machine in the corner. What does a pasta machine have to do with creating jewellery? It’s used to roll the clay patterns through to flatten them into a cane.
“The most exciting part for all polymer clay artists is cutting the cane to reveal the pattern created. Kaleidoscope canes are the most fun since the pattern is never what you would expect. Once the cane is produced, thin slices are cut and applied on to scrap clay beads (nothing goes to waste) to cover them with the new design. Holes are then applied to each bead and they are placed in the oven. Eventually, the beads are assembled onto wire or string to produce the final unique piece.”
Entirely self-taught with some help from YouTube, Pinterest and a curious mind that’s always up to something, Annabelle studied different techniques and styles. But to take it more professional she had to give a lot of thought to what her style is – or lack of perhaps.
“I created a new word for my designs and my work as a jewellery designer – I am style-fluid, meaning that I hate having only one style and that bothered me for many years. I now embrace my fluidity and that is what I want to promote. My designs are inspired by everything. From the texture of a leaf, the intricate colours of tropical birds to a Cindy Lauper outfit from the 80s,” she laughed.
Fascinated by science, art and historical influential figures (with a degree in biomedicine and a painter mother), Annabelle recently came up with a new idea for her jewellery. She wants to honour great women who left their mark on the course of history, be it Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, Agnes Martin or Marie Curie.
“The colours, textures or patterns used will all reflect these women,” commented Annabelle.
“A small card with a quote by each female or a fun fact related to her will be given to each customer when purchasing a piece of their jewellery.”
Abstract painter Agnes Martin was the first design of this collection. Now, Annabelle is in the middle of creating her Frida Kahlo jewellery, embellished with vibrant colours such as the painter’s artwork often featured and floral botanical patterns referring to the flowers Frida frequently wore on her head and with which she decorated her famous blue house. Keeping in mind traditional Mexican art, Annabelle’s Frida series attempts to create intricate designs resembling an embroidered effect; a naive folk-art style.
With this body of work, Annabelle hopes that those who wear her jewellery feel unique and powerful and take into account the quote they’ve read. Each is a powerful message reminding women to embrace their uniqueness and be proud of who they are.
A lot of research, time and work has been put in to create a unique piece that can never be replicated.
In between teaching private biology lessons and being a bookworm, Annabelle hopes to hold her first personal exhibition when she completes this collection (and the coronavirus crisis disappears). Besides her fresh ideas and unique designs, it’s the mind behind the brand that truly makes her jewellery stand out.