Whatever happened to masquerade balls? I for one, would like to get dressed up and wear a mask for the sake of looking fabulous. It’s a good thing I found jewellery artist Claudia Lepik.
Claudia makes jewellery masks that challenge our perceptions of beauty. Some of her work compliments the face with pieces hanging delicately across it like lace. Other pieces cover areas of the face in interesting ways, and pinch and distort the nose or cheeks.
Much of Claudia’s work is made up of discs combined together in different ways. The discs vary in size which create extravagant proportions across the face.
Claudia gets her inspiration from traditional Seto adornment. Setos are an ethnic minority in south eastern Estonia. During traditional wedding ceremonies, a Seto woman wears up to 2kg of silver around her neck. She also wears a large silver brooch which protects her soul from evil.
The Seto traditional silver jewellery is beautiful and intricate like Claudia’s masks. Claudia saws out each disc by hand and fits them together by either soldering them, or using tiny delicate hinges. Her workmanship is incredible, especially given that some pieces almost cover the entire face. This is a much larger scale than conventional jewellery like rings or a simple necklace.
Soldered silver and heated brass
One of the elements I love about Claudia’s work is the way she’s used heat with metal to get colours and textures.
When you heat brass, the colours change on the surface of the metal. This is because of oxidation. As the metal gets hotter, different levels of oxidation begin to show and each level has a different wavelength of light. Once cooled, this will leave swirls of blacks, browns and reds on the surface of the brass.
With silver you can do even more interesting things with solder and flux. When you solder two pieces of silver together, you need to use a liquid or paste called flux. Flux allows the solder to flow smoothly on your metal.
When heated, flux can sometimes create blue, green and black colours on the surface of silver. This is usually cleaned off after soldering but Claudia hasn’t done that. She’s kept these natural colours which look like cosmic landscapes on her pieces.
Avant garde jewellery
Like the avant garde, Claudia’s work is edgy, daring and bold. She plays with traditional techniques and by creating masks, she breaks conventional forms of jewellery.
Her work is a statement about what we think we know about beauty. Although the jewellery covers and reshapes the face in strange ways, her masks seem to belong on a catwalk or in a fashion shoot. Often these are areas reserved for those with the most beauty.
You may not wear one of her pieces to the office on an average Monday, but you’d certainly wear them to the ball.
Find out more about Claudia Lepik by following her on her Instagram account – @claudia.lepik.
All image rights belong to Claudia Lepik and are taken by photographer Arnaud Lafeuillade.