Consider the Clasp

A visit with Fay Andrada

“I still don’t feel like I work in fashion,” Fay tells me. “In a sense, of course I do, because I make jewelry. But I never studied it, and before I started making it, I never thought I could be a part of it.”

Now working fulltime on her independent line from a studio in Greenpoint, Fay Andrada is enthralled by the process of creating staunchly unique and refined pieces of jewelry. In fact, it might be her high level of engagement with the creation of new pieces that makes her reluctant to self-describe as being “in fashion.”

“I really want to preserve the newness of the idea. I don’t present anything that I’m not super excited about. I’m really self-conscious about that, and I’m really picky about what I put out there. I don’t yet feel able to enthusiastically deliver ‘X’ amount of new ideas or styles a year in order to fulfill the seasonal cycle that the fashion industry operates on.”

Fay may term it as “pickiness,” but a more apt label might be integrity. Rather than getting caught up in the cyclical frenzy of seasonal deliveries and muster a catalogue of so-so designs, she is slowly and steadily building a portfolio of incomparable objects. “It’s probably my design background; I want to solve a problem and not just repeat or rearrange things,” Fay explains.

Problem solving and jewelry making may sound like incongruous activities. But consider the times your bracelet has gotten in the way of your keyboard. Or the countless moments when your favorite pendant has slid to the back your neck, hiding from view. And how about that earring post stabbing you in the side of your head? Sure, these are not life-altering occasions, but they are little nuisances that could be easily mitigated, should a designer take the time to think them through. And wouldn’t it just be nice if we could happily brandish our bangles without concern for how their persistent jingle-jangles might irritate?

Thankfully, Fay is such a designer–the one who wears her items before selling them, working out the kinks so that her pieces could be worn to bed, should one desire. “My shapes are so simple. I have to make sure every edge is completely flat, smooth and comfortable to wear. There is a high level of craftsmanship involved. The consumer might think my price points are high for base metal pieces, but its the labor and time that goes into the making. Not to mention, my details make the pieces different from the mass-produced versions you find at major retailers.”

To get a sense of the labor and attention to detail Fay is referring to, one need look no further than the “Nicolette” earring. Upon first glance, the design seems facile: a teardrop shape, composed of brass and copper. Simple in design, challenging in execution.

“I made the first pair early on, immediately after learning how to metalsmith. I gave them to my friend who wore them constantly, so I decided to put them in production. They are my worst item business-wise because of the time it takes for me to be satisfied with them. I adjoin the two metals with silver solder, and I always want the juncture to be perfectly straight and have the soldering line be faint enough that it appears as though the metals are fading into one another.”

The designer’s concern is the consumer’s joy when they proudly don her exquisitely crafted composites. And, happily, this same level of artistry is found in Fay’s entire collection. “I construct all my pieces to have a timeless aesthetic. They have to have the quality to stand up to that.”

Her most popular piece, the Suippo bracelet, is a fantastic example of the designer’s enduring aesthetic, uniquely rendered. “I hadn’t done any bracelets, and I was sitting on my bench, trying to join the ends of this brass wire into a circle. As I joined them, I saw the teardrop and it sort of hit me. Now, I sell them in a set of three because I love what happens when the peaks scatter around your arm. And an added benefit of the design is that if you push them up on your arm they stay put, and they never slide off your hands.”

It is the subtlety of Fay’s work that makes her pieces so readily coveted by women of all sensibilities. Easily inserted into any wardrobe, the designer’s styles exhibit a ubiquitous elegance while persistently avoiding any level of ostentation. “I don’t like precious,” Fay says. “My pieces are everyday wear.”

As she grows the collection, Fay is staying true to her perspective and evolving her skill set. A recent piece, the “Viukha” earrings, challenged the designer as she set out to create an earring that did not just attach to a hook. “I wanted to make a continuous shape and figure out the hardware to go with it. I love how these earrings are effectively a circle with some angles cut out, and the clasp is actually part of the earring’s body itself.” Again, it is this almost indistinct iteration on the earring’s construction that makes the design so inventive. Instead of producing a piecemeal earring, the item is a single unit, diminishing its susceptibility to lost bits of hardware while increasing its longevity. They are earrings designed for daily use on more than an aesthetic level.

Maintaining her enviable design integrity as she goes, Fay hopes to eventually expand into other territories. “I’d really like to get into homewares. I like the idea of making items for the kitchen and table and I have a strong affinity for industrial design, so my aesthetic would play well in that realm.” While Fay Andrada kitchenware is sure to be must-have, for now, the designer is excited to further develop her jewelry line. “Up until last year, I was still practicing at this. I was making items similar to pieces I owned and loved. That’s what you do in the beginning–you emulate and iterate. Now, I feel like I’ve found my own voice and can really focus on executing new ideas.” Given her keen ability to transform inspiration into reality, no matter where Fay applies her skills, the result is sure to leave a lasting impact.

For more information on Fay Andrada, or to purchase her jewelry, visit her website.

By on June 14th, 2012

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