Every month we introduce you to one of our consignment artists. There is no salt and pepper, we reveal the rawest story on our artists' creative journey. How they met and fell in love with jewellery? What inspired them and how? What was the making process like? What are the tips on being a successfully established jewellery artist? Visit our Facebook and Instagram pages to stay up to date on our latest collections. Go to INTERVIEW ARCHIVE to read more stories.

Artist of the Month (4): Deborah Vivas

May 23, 2017

Into the jewellery world

Although she was born in Montreal, Deborah spent most of her early life into adulthood in Caracas, Venezuela where her parents call home. While on an urban landscape field trip for architecture school in 2001, she stumbled upon a small jewellery school and decided to try a class. Deborah was fascinated, and two years later she was busy creating small sculptures out of copper, bronze, silver and gold, had a solid understanding of alloying metals, as well as gem setting. What began as a hobby soon became her passion!

Tresor Ring - 20k gold fused on oxidized steel, 18k yellow gold, sterling silver, yellow topaz crystal

After finishing the jewellery courses in Caracas, her thirst for learning took her to Mexico where she studied lost wax casting, and years later while living here in Toronto she travelled to the United States to expand her knowledge on metal fusing techniques. It was then that Deborah realized fusing gold to steel was a skill she wanted to master.

Deborah is now based here in Toronto living with her life partner, one feisty cat and two adventurous dogs. Together in their free time they enjoy hiking and canoeing in their favourite place, Algonquin Park!

What is your work process like and what materials and techniques do you favor?

Every piece of Deborah’s starts with a sketch, which may then evolve into a paper model depending on the complexity of the item. Once she is satisfied with the design, she moves from the drawing board to the bench, where she uses recycled metals – fine 24 karat gold, fine silver, pure copper and mild steel – to create each piece. The contrasting histories and different applications of these metals make them Deborah’s go-to materials!

At the workbench she starts by creating different metal alloys like a painter mixing colours on a palette. Each metal is then rolled to different sheet thicknesses and are fused with a torch to mild steel at temperatures reaching over 1000°C. The mild steel is hot or cold forged (depending on the design) and used as the canvas which gives each of Deborah’s pieces structure and definition. As a final touch, each work is finished with heat patinas, then sealed with environmentally friendly waxes and clear coats to protect them from normal wear.

Sustainability, mining, proccess

Deborah’s pieces have an industrial feel with an organic look – the perfect combination of raw and elegant. Although the technique of fusing metals is widely used in the jewellery trade, it is her choice of metals and the way she mixes them that make her collections unique in the industry. She focuses on balance, structure, wear-ability and the right proportions of each design from sketch to finish. Vivasmith studio is also dedicated to sustainability every step of the way to create jewellery pieces that respect the earth. To lessen negative health and environmental impacts, Deborah chooses materials that are low-waste, recycled and reclaimed. The gold, silver and other precious metals used in her collections are sourced from Umicore’s “Butterfly Recycled Precious Metals”, and sometimes Deborah travels directly to gemstone mines to collect materials herself. “We look at the global landscape as our home, and take steps both locally and abroad to ensure it stays beautiful.”

Deborah at a tourmaline mine in the mountains of Southern California.

Inspiration, lessons, advice

Deborah gathers inspiration from the world around her; people, nature, feelings, a random conversation, or rain drops on a windshield. For her, inspiration for the next piece of jewellery can be found anywhere. When we asked Deborah to share a few of her favourite jewellery designers with us, she told us that her list is far too extensive to name everyone, but a few that came to mind included contemporary artists Helfried Kodré, Daniel Brush and Kevin Coates.

For all the aspiring jewellery designers out there, Deborah’s advice is to explore all sorts of materials and techniques so that you can find the one that speaks to you and build your niche in the industry. Don’t rush a piece, take your time in the detail, and know when to stop and enjoy the process!

Thank you Deborah for sharing your work and inspirations with us this month!

For more examples of Deborah's work, visit Deborah Vivas under CANADIAN ARTISTS menu.