Imagine this: two figures, both dressed in head-to-toe protective heat gear, pouring molten metal into an iron bucket. Are they engineers? Blacksmiths? Sculptors?
Not exactly. For Christine Guibara, an independent jewelry designer from Northern California, this is just another day at the office. “When I was at Revere Academy, we learned how to make casting grain buy pouring liquid metal into water a certain way,” she says. “While we were doing it, I kept noticing how interesting and individual each piece was, but none were interesting enough to keep and make into jewelry. A few months later, when I was messing around with techniques, I tried something similar and was rewarded with some incredibly amazing shapes.”
Guibara’s signature ‘watercast’ method uses recycled scrap metal to produce eco friendly jewelry that also “emulates the breathtaking forms of nature.” Since these forms aren’t always easy to capture, Guibara melts down and reuses the pieces that don’t make the first cut. So while there’s still “an element of mystery” to the formation of organic shapes, nothing goes to waste.
Indeed, all of Guibara’s naturally elegant collections have an eye for ethics as well as style. “I think our earth in a lot of ways is subtly beautiful,” she says, “and it’s not until you start looking closely that you see how fantastic it is. It’s always a goal to capture that feeling in my jewelry.” To help protect this subtle beauty, Guibara pays close attention the treatments and origins of her stones, as well as the provenience of her chosen metals. Diamonds, however, presented a challenge.
Diamonds, especially African diamonds, are markedly hard to trace. A diamond may change hands ten times before being certified for export. While the Kimberley Process filters many conflict stones, the gaps in the industry make it impossible to certify diamonds beyond a doubt. “I have heard concern over the ethical nature of diamonds and been asked to search for diamonds that are more than just “conflict free.” I love that Diamond Foundry has come up with a wonderful option for people who love diamonds but don’t like the mining and political practices that are associated with the industry. That blend of modern technology meets artisan craft is something I love to be apart of.”
Whether its lab grown diamonds or new jewelry making techniques, Guibara doesn’t shy away from technology like some artisanal designers. “I think there is a wonderful way to blend the two,” she says. For her, it’s more about “appreciating the craftsmanship of traditional jewelry making, but also giving jewelers tools to be able to go further with their creations.”
Perhaps her opinion isn’t so surprising. After all, Guibara grew up in a house of artists who loved to experiment. “My parents are both very creative,” she says. “My father is a sculptor and my mom was an interior designer while I was growing up. I was constantly surrounded by art and loved it. I was enrolled in sewing, jewelry, and art classes at a young age and spent countless hours at my father’s studio creating. I am forever grateful to my parents for exposing me to so many art forms; I still sew, paint, photograph, sculpt, decorate and craft in whatever spare time I can make.”
Ah yes, the fabled ‘spare time.’ And how much of that will there be in the near future? “I am constantly thinking of new designs so I imagine building several collections in the upcoming years. I’m building my bridal line, expanding my watercasting collection, and creating more one-of-a-kind pieces from stones that I have fallen in love with over the years,” Guibara says. “I definitely see a lot of custom work in my future as well. It’s something I find challenges me as a designer and it is really fulfilling to make pieces that I know have special meaning to the customer.”
So, to clarify, not much.