I stumbled upon Tamar Pelzig a few months ago at the weekend Artists & Flea’s Market downtown L.A. Her crocheted metals were an anomaly in the crowd of vintage chotchkies and t-shirt and crafts. She spins a mesmerizing web out of chain and wire creating intricate shapes that beguile and seduce you into looking closer and asking more.
We spent an afternoon in her Los Feliz studio last week- and here’s a rather longish snippet of our conversation.
Let’s start with the word Janjoon – the name of your company.
It’s a nickname my father gave me when I was born– a word derived from a jinjeet which translates to ginger in Hebrew (*note the adorable strawberry-red pixie she sports) I use the term for my company as a pseudonym allowing a connection to my father through my work.
How did you find yourself working magic with these metals?
It was so gradual it’s hard to pick a moment… I’m always experimenting with different yarns and materials, but there was this time I realized I could knit with metal. It blew my mind! It was so quick! To create something so incredible and exciting– to make something considered stiff into something soft– it was like a form of alchemy to me.
Does your work have an intention when you start or does it evolve organically?
I’m the kind of designer who works with the material directly- most designers sketch up an idea, then execute– but the majority of my designs are trial and error– playing with the metal to see where it takes me. It’s practice in letting go, having no control. Sometimes I come up with something so bizarre… but someone out there will love it!
How do you re-create pieces for retail accounts when you don’t have a formula or pattern?
I take photos obsessively- so I can recreate the technical work. Even though it’s not as creative-less inventive, I find it very therapeutic.
How long does it take you to create a piece?
It varies- the wire cuffs are pretty quick- but the crochet necklaces are hours- I’ll sit and can’t stop till I finish a piece– I’ll do it in one sitting.
What inspires your shapes and creations?
My biggest influence is definitely spider webs! I am SO scared of spiders– it’s a phobia I’ve always lived with. I see it as honoring my fear by using their work to inspire mine. About 5 years ago- my boyfriend and I visited his dad’s blueberry farm in northern California. In the fall, something incredible happens– as the spiders migrate for the winter they leave behind these amazing webs all over the field. It was then that I began to I appreciate the beauty of the spiders work. It’s intricate but also kinda wild.
The Hebrew word for fear is pahad- spelled backward it means urge or need – something my father taught me.
Go where your fear is can be liberating… I like to think about stuff like that.
In terms of inspiration, I’m also drawn to geometric shapes, space, clocks, steam punk, the 20”s influence chains, fringe and that drape-y aesthetic. I prefer my work without embellishment, beads– I like to focus on the purity of the materials.
Where do you find your materials?
New York Jewelry Suppliers- but I also look for vintage jewelry and chains- which I will deconstruct to make something new. I travel and pick up treasures from all over the world.
Your pieces are a balance between grace and strength– is that intentional or accidental?
Yeah – I don’t think about it– it’s my alchemy to turn something upside down and find its contradictions. I’m a pretty balanced person in life, but in my designs I like to play with imbalance.
As a jewelry designer, do you have signature piece that is your go-to?
The cuff –it’s like a shield, my armour.
Q & A
Bike or Hike?
White or Red? (that would be wine)
Yin or Yang?
Bikini or Maillot?
Loafer of Laceup?
Loafer – I don’t like the work of a lace-up. I like knotting– but not when it comes to shoes!
Laemmle’s* or Netflix?