Introducing: Liz Chumtong, of Saki SilverPosted by Kate on November 15 at 01:57 pm
Today is a big day. We’re introducing a new Artist to our line-up and she’s got a suitcase full of really cool metal pieces with her. You may have heard of Saki Silver by name before, but you’re in luck today because we’ve got an exclusive interview with the Sultina of Silver, all the way from Thailand: Liz Chumtong.
The Meat & Potatoes
Q. What sort of pieces/offerings should we be expecting from the Saki line?
A. White bronze is our new feature! It looks a lot like silver but is half the price. It blends well with other metals, so people are really enjoying it’s versatility. And we are always working on new designs. This spring we’ll bring out a new line of charms, as well as some fun new earring findings.
Q. What exactly does “metal working” (“silver smith-ing”?) entail?
A. There are many facets to what we do. The first step is to design a piece and get a master made. This can entail hours, even days working on one piece by hand, getting it just right. There are 3 of us who design and often times we collaborate. Sometimes the process is as simple as drawing a design and getting a wax mold carved, and we just cast from that. Most of our findings are made using lost wax casting, and then hand finished. The earwires are made by hand so that requires our silversmiths to do a lot of tedious work, as they make each tiny ball one by one, and solder them to the wire. My sister-in-law, P Boo, makes the majority of the earwires.
Q. We’ve been seeing the word “Shibuichi” more and more in our jewelry world. What’s the big deal??
A. Shibuichi is a copper/silver alloy that has been used in Japan since the 8th century for jewelry making. It has become popular in the art jewelry world because it is so unusual in color, and the finish can vary depending on how it’s made. I think most of us learned from artist Bob Burkett, who has been making shibuichi for many years, and he’s always very generous in sharing his expertise. At our studio, Nui is the shibu master, and no one touches it but him.
Q. Waking up every day facing mounds of metal, what things keep you inspired and fresh in your designs?
A. My inspiration comes from all over. Sometimes I awake at 3AM and have a design I need to sketch. Sometimes I get architectural books, or other design books for reference. And sometimes designs pop in my head, like one day I was at the beach with the kids, and I ended up designing a line inspired by water and bubbles and waves.
Sometimes I ask my head silversmith to come up with something new and interesting, and the things he comes up with!!!! He’s very creative and isn’t exposed much to the US bead market, so his perspective is fresh and very unique.
Q. OK, quick! The first three things that come to mind when you hear the word “SILVER”:
A. This is a tough one. But honestly: Saki, Family, Life
This word is very powerful for me. It’s how I met my husband, Sak, selling silver on the street. It’s how I raised my children, and it’s my passion. I remember the first time I walked into a wholesale silver shop in Bangkok as a teenager. I thought, “This is what I want to do”. I remember how inspired I was by all the beautiful designs, as well as by the sheer magnitude of the shop itself. It’s still how I feel when I walk down the aisle at a bead show, and I’m just thankful to be a part of it.
Q. If you weren’t in the business you’re in, what would you do? (AKA what are your other hobbies & passions)
A. Sak has had a life long dream of creating a “chill lounge” on the beach in Thailand, and he has, in fact, just opened one on a small island in southern Thailand. So for now I’m here running the business, but once the kids are grown, you just might find me on that same beach, and if it had to be something other than jewelry, I’d probably have a restaurant with lots of organic, homegrown veggies and home-raised chicken, and fresh seafood right from the ocean.
Last but not least,
Q. If you played Major League Baseball, what would your “coming up to bat” song be?
A. Here’s where you’ve got me! I don’t know what that means but I’m guessing it means what song pumps me up and inspires me. Ohhh so many. Sak loves music so we have a massive music library, with lots of world music and every other kind you can think of! Here are a few that have always made me want to get up and conquer the world!
- Boom Boom Pow
- Eye of the Tiger
- I Did it My Way
And there you have it, folks.
Complete with a mini iPod playlist– if you’ve ever wondered what makes the Saki world go round, you’ve heard it here first. And don’t forget to check out our selection of Saki Silver!