Jeweller Courteney Krauss discusses her collaboration with this global brand
Words: Refiloe Legoale | Images: Supplied
If you’re into timeless, minimal, and affordable jewellery then Pina Jewels should be your go-to. The brains behind the brand Courteney Krauss have always had a heart for art. She used her passion for wanting to sculpt resin as a stepping stone to expand on her crafting skills with the end goal of creating refined and sustainable jewellery pieces. Courteney unpacks the art behind jewellery making and her partnership with adidas.
Why did you decide to create Pina Jewels?
Pina started from an inherent need and want for me to be completely dedicated to something. I had this romantic idea of wanting to be so captivated by something that I could be passionately dedicated to, every day. I always had this deep fear of never finding that one thing, while never wanting to be half interested in something.
When I first became interested in jewellery, I was exposed to materials like silver and brass but that was never my interest. I wanted to sculpt resin, which I think at first, was a crazy concept to everyone around me. I think that everyone thought that I had lost my mind. So I hounded down a couple of people who knew what they were talking about, rented the cheapest studio I could find, bought a bunch of resin, and made a thousand mistakes.
How would you describe your design style and general Pina Jewels aesthetic?
I like to think of it as kind of ridiculous but also kind of chic. Itʼs got this nostalgic feel to it, it reminds me of jewellery that I would make and wear as a kid but I always wanted it to be refined and sustainable. My great grandmother, Nona Pina, whom Pina was named after, always had the most insane jewellery. Mostly made up of Italian treasures and beautiful glass beads, I think I owe a lot to her.
Is sustainability important to your work, and how do you keep it as sustainable as possible?
Working with resin and having sustainability in mind was always going to be tricky, as plastic will never be fully sustainable. However, I think through my work's process and having an undying commitment to making mistakes, I couldnʼt ignore the responsibility I had towards reducing my waste while being able to successfully recycle.
I've always been interested in fluidity and the idea of making control mistakes. I am interested in the barriers between an accident and the moment when an accident happens - in between what makes something pleasing and what makes something uncomfortable to look at. Through this journey, I realised that the true beauty of resin comes from everything I cannot control.
For this project specifically, I have used and recycled bits of resin that Iʼve collected over the past four years. All resin used to create the shoe is leftover resin from pieces that are wearable, meaning that nothing goes to waste
I am also truly focused on running Pina as small and as slowly as possible, I donʼt work well when I am spread too thin. I have also made the move recently, to change to using bio-resin instead of epoxy. Through this shift, in addition to taking time to learn the material, is my favourite part of the process.
Can jewellery evoke an emotional response in its wearers?
I donʼt think that I would be doing this if I didn't create something that makes people excited or joyful or even confused. I aim and love to inspire people visually- I want people to see something and think, "I HAVE TO HAVE THAT".
I think when it comes to something thatʼs meant to symbolise a token of affection, it often becomes a visual cue to other memories and associations. Whether the colours and textures remind you of a candy you had at Sweets From Heaven as a kid, or of hot summer's beach day. Whatever it is, you now have something to make new memories with, whilst still carrying the old ones with you - which I think is kinda cool.
What is it about the adidas brand and sustainability campaign that excites you?
Adidas has been leading the way as a true innovator in sustainability for quite a while now. The importance which they place on bridging the gap between ethical responsibility, while also producing a high-quality product, is what is truly unique. With this specific project in mind, it highlights that Adidiasʼ drive to become a circular company goes far beyond them providing local artists with a platform to redefine how we use materials, what we use, and how we aim to progress from here. This speaks hugely to their commitment to team effort.
Take us through the inspiration behind your pair of customised sneakers?
I love materials that are sculptural and textural and I love something that seems fluid but isnʼt. I love a good contrast and visual exercise. Hence, I created the Stan Smith shoe by collecting and reusing all the pieces of resin that were leftover from creating wearable pieces. All of the pieces were made with no intention of shape or of the end product in mind, the shapes were up to the product itself.
I can only control the material up to a certain point, and from that point forward, everything is up to luck. That element of surprise is truly what I love most about resin - I never really know what Iʼm going to get and it keeps me on my toes. I wanted the piece to be observed differently from every angle, but overall coming together from an aerial view as something fully formed and layered. Each colour that is shown on the piece was once used to make wearable items.
Any advice for other young designers trying to start a creative business?
For me, it was the realisation that commitment and passion isnʼt glamorous or fun, at all. Itʼs grimy, takes guts and is difficult. Commitment is what makes you pick yourself up the next day and keep moving even when you feel you donʼt have anything left to give. Commitment keeps you in check, it reminds you that your excuses to not show up are useless. It reminds you that everything you are ignoring or are afraid to do will eventually catch up to you.
I think itʼs also about momentum and curiosity- not stopping until you find something that knocks your socks off, that truly moves you to your core. Itʼs about finding that thing and being comfortable in not knowing- being comfortable with failure, being comfortable with creating things you canʼt stand. Create just for you, not everything you create has to be a masterpiece. Make as many mistakes as possible, make a total mess. Itʼs the best education you could give yourself. Remember that at the end of the day, you are doing what youʼre doing to make your life better.
What does the future hold for Pina Jewels?
This is always a tricky one for me- I think itʼs difficult because I have this deep fear of being stagnant and of feeling uninspired, but itʼs the only way that I keep moving and searching for the next thing. Sometimes, I feel as if I am not still enough. I hardly get to enjoy the small or big successes. I've recently reached a couple of goals that I set out to do, and when they came around I felt underwhelmed. I think that’s wrong of me because, in reality, I think that everything, even the tiny things, should be celebrated. So Iʼm trying to put that into practice. Iʼm trying to enjoy every step in its moment without worrying about whatʼs next, or how Iʼm going to outdo myself with the next best thing. It’s a difficult balance but Iʼm working on it every day.
So for now, Iʼm working on a collection of rings- theyʼre chunky and gimmicky and ridiculous but there is something weirdly edible and shiny about them that makes them unforgettable.
I hope other people see what I see and maybe they'll want to buy one, and if not Iʼll just have this dreamy collection of rings to gawk over.
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