Hi! I'm Susanne, the artist and maker behind Una Artesana. I'm also a jewelry designer with my own eponymous label, Susanne Verallo.
Besides designing, I've always wanted to create jewelry with my own hands. I'd planned on taking metal smithing classes, but unfortunately couldn't push through because of the pandemic. Then I thought that just because I couldn't do metal smithing, that didn't mean I couldn't learn alternative jewelry-making techniques, and so I started dabbling with the beads I had at home and learned to bead weave. I taught myself different techniques through online tutorials and started designing my own pieces from there.
The Philippines, my home, is an endless source of inspiration. Like my main jewelry work, the pieces I create for Una Artesana are inspired by Filipino culture, particularly mythology and folklore. While learning to bead weave, I was also researching and learning more about our precolonial myths and legends. Eventually I brought the two together to create jewelry pieces inspired by our ancestors' stories. Those pieces became the first volume of jewelry, titled "Langit".
Una Artesana has since evolved from personal project to fully-fledged jewelry line. While I will continue to explore various mediums and techniques in jewelry-making, my focus will always be on the Philippines – our culture, our history, and our people.
Thank you for coming along on this journey! Read more about Una Artesana's beginnings here.
MATERIAL & TECHNIQUE
I create each jewelry piece by hand myself. For Una Artesana’s first three collections, I explore beading as a jewelry-making technique with glass seed beads, the material I had available during lockdown. The two beading techniques I use are bead weaving and French beading.
There are two types of bead weaving methods: loom weaving (below, left) and off-loom weaving (below, right). The method used depends on what the design calls for. Most of the jewelry pieces are done off-loom with a combination of different bead weaving stitches, while some of the chokers are done on the loom.
Depending on the complexity of the design, it can take anywhere between 2 to 8 hours, even up to 12, to complete a single piece as everything is done painstakingly by hand, bead by bead. Bead weaving is a meticulous and labor-intensive process.
For the latest collection, Diwata, I learned a new beading technique – French beading.
French beading is a combination of wire work and beading. Glass beads are strung onto a wire, which is then bent and shaped by hand to create various shapes. Pliers cannot be used to shape the beaded wire because the force will break the beads, so it is just your bare hand shaping the piece.
While this technique is more forgiving and generally quicker than bead weaving, it does require more force and effort to create intricate shapes. It's easy for your hands to become quite sore after a while. French beading is perfect for creating more rigid structures.
Diwata Pt. 2, Una Artesana’s latest collection, explores sculpture as a jewelry-making technique. I first started experimenting with clay mid-2021 while recovering from overuse syndrome in my hands from bead weaving. I quickly fell in love with the material and technique, and started creating jewelry designs. Eventually I settled on working with cold porcelain, a starch-based air drying clay. It is extremely durable and lightweight, making it ideal for jewelry pieces.
Every jewelry piece in Diwata Pt. 2 is also hand-painted and glazed, with each flower taking anywhere between 3 to 6 hours to sculpt and paint. This collection was definitely a bit of a learning curve, but I've learned so much and can finally add new techniques and materials to my jewelry-making repertoire. Watch the videos below to see my sculpting and painting process: