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Conversations with the Inspiring Nina Savill

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nina Savill.

Nina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When I was little, I’d scavenge for seeds, feathers and leaves, glue these things to rocks and give them to all my neighbors as plant and garden accessories. I was always drawn to the process in its entirety – collecting interesting relics, creatively constructing functional objects and distributing them to anybody who would take them in! But, I didn’t have a fulfilling application for this process until college, where I discovered metalsmithing. I spent a lot of time welding, creating furniture and large kinetic sculpture, as well as making smaller more organic jewelry pieces.

After college, I couldn’t keep a big welder in my NYC apartment, so I combined the two and made sculptural jewelry. Over the years, I’ve kept a studio in my apartment, the office of a punk rock newspaper, an old recording studio, in the back of my own fine art gallery that I owned in NYC’s Lower East Side and now in the sunny hills of East Los Angeles. I’ve zoomed in and out on my jewelry business and it’s not always been my main focus. But it has always been my constant. It’s true in my nature, since childhood and it’s just something that I will always do. I’m now the mother of 3-year-old twin girls. I still make jewelry and now, I scavenge for seeds and rocks with them. I’m fortunate enough to be part of an incredible community of makers in LA. I do lots of design fairs and markets and my jewelry is sold in stores in Los Angeles and Palm Springs.

Has it been a smooth road?
My biggest challenge has always been that everything I do is still fabricated in one-of-a-kind fashion, by hand by me. I want to preserve the craft that I love so much, but at the same time, grow my business. Finding time for all that production without outsourcing anything is difficult, but I’m reluctant to do it any other way. And now as a mother, I’m trying to balance working hard and doing my best, while also being present for my kids and inspiring them to discover their true nature and do the same.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Nina Savill Jewelry story. Tell us more about the business.
As a metalsmith and originally a metal sculptor and welder, I have a somewhat different approach to jewelry design and fabrication. I love kinetics and illusions and elegance with an emphatic edge. And my ideas come mostly from hallucinations where I tend to misjudge spatial relationships and the overlapping of objects, and in the process, I visually architect new structures that I want to build, and (for some reason) wear. So, I’ll turn anything from a roasted beet to the Brooklyn Bridge into a necklace. I’m more interested in seeing these ideas and experiments through, than I am in creating a consistent line or being on trend. So, my process is weird and slow and kind of irreverent, but what I aim to yield is something authentic.

In collaboration with the non-profit organization artfromtheashes.org (producing benefit exhibitions to support communities after a natural disaster), I also make jewelry with salvaged findings from wildfire sites. I’ll design and build one-of-a-kind pieces around the found objects and give them a second life as a completely different object with a whole new function, as a piece of jewelry. The mindful incorporation of reclaimed materials speaks to many important current issues about environmental kindness, conservation and re-purposing. And it also demonstrates simply that one can find beauty in the ashes and in the remnants.

Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
Well, I definitely discovered a lot about my true nature when I was little. It’s amazing how pure and intuitive we are as kids! And if anything, I now borrow from certain practices and even shapes that I used to draw when I was a kid. My studio now, with the exception of some more sophisticated tools, looks very much like my “studio” did back then, when I was just a little kid, decorating rocks.

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