Eliza Spell is less jewelry maker and more black magic conjurer. Working with adornments of various cultures, Eliza creates pieces that are versatile and transcendental. A Richmond, Virginia-based artist, she is easily one of the most interesting and creative people we know. I caught up with her in her captivating studio space over the weekend and chatted about travel, metalworking and Jay-Z.
Eliza’s workspace is packed to the brim with jewelry and art, both finished and in various states of progress, power tools and large scale equipment, and things that inspire her, from photos and books on Indian adornments to giant gemstones. Every corner is filled with a hundred things to look at and ask about, and Eliza patiently answers every question and explains the ideas and process behind every piece. She especially lights up, though, when talking about her affinity for Indian jewelry, her time spent working in Bali, and the sculptural headpieces she makes in tribute to her favorite artists, including Stevie Nicks and Jay-Z.
Eliza began with a background in sculpture, first in Western New York, and then here in Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University. A lack of space forced her to work smaller, and she transitioned from large-scale metal work to incredibly detailed headdresses, which she calls “weird fan art”, but are actually quite stunning and immensely labor-intensive. She is currently making one for Blue Ivy Carter, using the age-old and almost-extinct technique of bead looming.
She then spent some time as a piercer, which eventually took her to Bali to create a collection of jewelry. Back at home, Eliza began making pieces for herself, after being unable to find what she wanted on the market. An incredibly inspired and detail-oriented person, she spends most of her time in the studio, where she meticulously hand-makes every component of her one of a kind jewelry. Her sculptural tendencies give an air of industrialism to her work, while her love for Indian culture and jewelry clearly comes through in ornate details.