Today we’re featuring the adorable artisan known as Nemhiria, who hails from the city of dreamy Andalusia in southern Spain; a place I had to swear on my honour actually exists to our editor. It is an ancient city with a rich mixed culture that both inspires and fosters artistic expression, steeped with a creative atmosphere that our self-taught jeweller describes as ‘palpable’.
Nemhiria classes herself as a hobbyist, a term which usually, and unfairly, brings to mind amateurish and half-assed endeavours. Her creations, however, are anything but. She is a reminder that one doesn’t need to be a professional or a formal student to excel in something. Perseverance, dedication and a love of the craft can, in time, produce spectacular results.
“I remember I loved jewellery since I was a child. I have always dreamt about diamonds, tiaras, jewellery designers and all this sophisticated and glamorous world as a childhood fantasy.”
Unable to take up her passion professionally, it wasn’t until she was older that she found herself in a position to begin learning the process required to make jewellery and fulfil her childhood dream. Countless hours and sleepless nights have gone into the honing of her craft. Experimentation with wire wrapping, then forging, bloodied fingers and wasted materials and a sprawling amalgamation of different inspirations, from north-African and Arabian to Cordobesian and modern fantasy, Nemhiria has discovered that the sophisticated and glamorous world she dreamt of doesn’t exist. It’s a long, hard and frustrating road… but she doesn’t regret it at all.
“Jewellery needs lot of learning, lots of hard work and a big dose of realism. It’s not a childhood fantasy at all. But it’s simply wonderful.”
Editor and I are both in agreement that Nemhiria’s artistic process is possibly the most adorable thing we have ever come across. It highlights wonderfully her love for the art and the pieces that she makes (and also highlights wonderfully why we love her and want to keep her forever). To describe it wouldn’t do her justice, and so I’ll let Nemhiria explain it in her own words.
“Before starting any project, I always imagine a whole story for that piece, even with characters that interact with that jewel as a novel or a movie. I have a literary character that has a close relationship with my jewellery: Kei Constantine. She is a jewellery thief and when I think about a new piece, I create a whole world where that jewel is important, or belongs to an ancient dynasty, or is a cursed gem or has a mystery inside – and of course Kei Constantine will try to steal it.”
When I heard this, I was first unnecessarily ecstatic, then actually impressed. Interpretive dance is history’s longest-standing joke, but interpretive jewellery really does exist. When I first came across her work, it was her Warcraft-themed jewellery that caught my eye. I was interested because it really did bring to mind exactly what she was inspired by. From the smallest meandering details to the colours and filigrees, every tiny little inclusion was winding toward a predetermined result. I had assumed she made something pretty and then thought about what it reminded her of after completion, a process that would have made her work no less appreciable. Instead, that she begins her work with consideration and purpose and crafts with a theme and image in mind, well… I’m a little enamoured by it.
“When I’m making the piece, I’m really inside the literary story, so for example if Kei will steal the cursed Ruby of the Grand Vizier of Baghdad, I need that piece very intricate (in an Arabian style), very red, very mysterious… and very cursed too. So I will look for a dark red stone and the filigree will be like a labyrinth full of traps and mysteries.”
As Nemhiria makes her jewellery purely as a hobby and for her own enjoyment, she doesn’t mass-produce items or create to set designs on command. Each intricate item is unique and one of a kind. She does, however, sell her finished pieces and work to vague commissions. She makes note that prospective patrons should be aware that she will highly customise and personalise her creations. This may sound off-putting for people forking over cash, but I think that this, her own touch of magic, is precisely what makes each of her pieces so special.
“When I create a piece, I ‘write’ my personal point of view in the process of the fantasy story. This is how jewellery is fun… well… this is how every job is fun.“