An interesting aspect of working in the Barnes Shop is meeting craftspeople and artists and gaining insight into their creative working process. It is a chance to learn about materials, to observe the ritual and repetition of production, and finally, to see the resultant object. This behind-the-scenes approach is helpful and intimate: I love knowing how things are made, and I’ve become more attentive to people’s relationship with craft. Plus, I’m curious about the dialogue that occurs between the fine and decorative arts in the galleries upstairs, and how contemporary craftspeople translate this exchange in their work.
Klara Borbas started her artistic career studying art and architecture, then worked as a ceramicist in Hungary. Taking a cue from her material knowledge of clay, she now makes lovely, distinctive, minimalist porcelain jewelry which we sell in the Barnes Shop.
As she is quick to remind us, her work “is not like your grandmother’s porcelain, which you weren’t allowed to touch.” The material is not even the most noteworthy part. What really strikes me is how she makes the individual beads. You can see the various stages below:
Borbas starts by wedging the clay into a handmade mold. The piece is shaped, smoothed, and sanded, then pierced for stringing. The bead may be painted using an underglaze and oxide, then etched; other designs incorporate wax resist, which is fired off in the kiln. After firing, the beads are again sanded, and then assembled into jewelry.
It’s a fairly long process to make a single piece of jewelry, and that, at least for me, is the most daunting feature of production. Borbas notes that her business is primarily a one-woman operation, although she has an assistant helping her to prepare for craft shows, she remarks with relief. We’re glad that she was able to spend some time with us to demonstrate how she works, and we certainly enjoy having her jewelry in the Barnes Shop.
What projects are you working on? Does repetition play a role in your creative process?