Jewellery is a different kind of masterpiece. The creation of jewellery is dated back to 3,000-5,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt. It was a symbol of power, status, and sometimes even protection. Jewellery had various roles depending on culture, and through the years, their purposes go on to be significant.
Today, when you wear a piece of jewellery, most of the time, you match it with the occasion or your outfit. Artists have found a way to make jewellery that gives more than just style.
Sunset Yogurt is owned by Venetian artist Cosima, and she creates jewellery from glass. She produces jewellery not to conform to fads and current trends, but rather to take a stand and make a point.
"My name is Cosima Montavoci and I'm a Venetian Artist, owner, and founder of the project Sunset Yogurt.
You might be deceived by the name, but Sunset Yogurt is a contemporary glass jewelry brand, I started to work with glass at 16 years old and fell in love with it, the name comes from the magic moment in which white-hot glass becomes the color of sunset and consistency of yogurt.
Besides working with glass and creating jewellery I am also a sculpture and installation artist."
Cosima always tried creating things out of glass. But after her graduation, she felt like making things only to satisfy aesthetics felt a bit hollow. That's when she started making jewellery and so Sunset Yogurt was born.
"I define myself as the maker and thinker as it is me creating every design and making each glass bead one by one. As in my artworks, the main feature of my jewellery is using humor as a tool of acceptance.
My Thingness Collection, in particular, uses pieces of bodies to adorn bodies and aims to smash the taboo.
Thingness collection was born in 2018 and fills the need to combine the Venetian tradition of lampworking with the themes addressed in my artworks, the beauty of Murano glass, the functionality of the jewel, and humor as a tool of acceptance."
Starting as an e-commerce brand in the Netherlands, Sunset Yogurt wasn't taken too seriously. Cosima's concept of representing the beauty of body parts were frowned upon and misunderstood.
"It was quite hard to be taken seriously and to make people understand there was a valid concept behind my choice of representing boobies and other body parts. Using traditional Venetian material and such eclectic themes got a lot of people upset, however when you want to smash taboos you often offend some people, but we do not only do mountain houses with wood, so I do not see why only make Murrina's with Murano glass."
But even though her art was unwelcomed for some time, she urged on and kept creating.
"Besides the challenges that are very specific to my business I would advise who plans to open an offline or online business to, first of all, do something that is uniquely theirs, the world is filled with people that do pretty or fashionable stuff, but unless that is specifically your passion, avoid following tendencies and deep dive on what is inside you.
I would also recommend finding a balance between having a specific strategy and context that express the uniqueness of the business with getting out there, to get feedback.
The most common mistake is thinking that as soon as you open you'll start selling, in fact hardest thing is finding the right market for what you do."
Cosima's jewelleries are inspired by topics and concepts she deals with in her art practice.
"The Thingness Collection, in particular, was born from a fascination with disembodied body parts, and through researching, I encountered the work of Paul Thek.
Using pieces of body to adorn other bodies helps us appreciate the joy that comes from the acceptance of our 'Thingness', as the '70s contemporary artist Paul Thek defined it, influenced by his visit to the Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo.
Inspired by this experience he did a series of artworks called 'Meat pieces', although I love these works, I found the joy was missing, and felt the need to create body adornments representing bodies that made me feel the joy.
Jewelry is normally something pretty used as a decoration, my jewelry has a message, the prettiness of it is definitely not my first interest but perhaps a side effect, the main goal of my jewelry is following the concepts I work within art, making it memorabilia of my artworks and almost like wearable sculptures. After all, real art does not aim to please, but to make the audience think and has a message, often uncomfortable."
What’s your favorite item in your collection and why?
What I am most attached to in the Thingness collection are boobies, in fact, they were the most uncomfortable item as people are not comfortable with their femininity, and I was at times even perceived as promiscuous just for representing boobies, however, everyone has nipples.
Most of the adjectives used to talk about strength are phallic, have you ever heard the expression ballsy woman or phallic lady?
I wish boobies will become the symbol of female strength instead of a sexual one, some sort of upper balls.
Boobies have no function in sex, they need to nourish newborns, perhaps to show fertility. For me, they are a constructive and non-violent, non-phallic symbol of strength, something female-oriented, with no shame.
What’s your best customer story?
"I have often quite a personal relationship with customers that totally understand what I do and are very committed and follow my artistic path. The customer story that stuck to me the most was from a wonderful lady who was attacked, she had to have her tendons reconstructed, she followed me for a while and along with her first order she sent me a long message telling me about her story, and that she wanted a ring of mine to be the first thing going back to her hands and to get her life back.
As she wrote to me "Brown Eyes, like mine, to start over."
This hit me quite deeply and besides telling her I hoped nothing like this ever happen to her again, as she bought a huge statement ring we had a laugh regarding the fact if it did happen again it could have worked as a weapon.
I always wanted people to understand that this is a very personal business and that behind computers there are people, she made me feel like we were close, even though I've never seen her in person."
Who do you think is doing great creative work in the fashion industry at the moment?
"I inspire myself more often with the art world rather than fashion, for example some artists that definitely influenced my vision are Paul Thek, Joseph Beuys, Piero Manzoni, Claes Oldenburg, Mike Kelley, Louise Borgeois and so on...
At the moment in the fashion Industry I find Iris van Herpen's work stunning and inspiring, as I'm quite a fan of Chie Mihara and United Nude's shoes.
I often appreciate Moschino's humour and Black Milk sensational prints."
Cosima, having worked in e-commerce in 2016, found it difficult to find sustainable packaging. She wanted to be 100% coherent and wanted her work to impact her audience in a good way. She saw that polluting the world didn't add up to what she wanted to achieve.
"I made a huge art project about this topic, called Trash Project, that I even brought to Bangladesh. I've been looking for sustainable packaging that could fit my business, but seemed even more irrational to trash my existing packaging to brag about sustainability, so as soon as my existing packaging was finished, I switched to eco-friendly packaging.
Definitely being in charge of creation gives me a better control on ethics, I buy best quality materials and locally produced tools and work with them myself. When possible I choose suppliers that do not use plastic and always reuse the small sealing bags.
I do not want my creations to be disposable because I'm quite affectionate to my work but also because that's not how I want the world to work, for this reason I always offer assistance. Glass is hard to break, but for whatever might happen, I'm available in finding a solution.
For whatever concerns, I showcase to my customers. Besides posting updates about it on social media. My work is a lot about storytelling, so I tell my customers directly.
Graduating in contemporary art, sculpture and installation, Cosima knew so well that branding is important, and has always been a key ingredient to her work.
"I think proper custom made packaging is key to express the preciousness of my product and helps to perceive the message I want to communicate.
I found noissue online and beside the quality of the product, the easy interface, and the possibility of custom made packaging I have to say I was impressed by the way of communicating and how well the website is made, how the message comes out clearly, and this for me is totally and added value that I want to reward.
Last but not least I love the idea that every time I order more supplies to ship my creations a tree will be planted."
Sunset Yogurt fun fact:
If your brand was an era, what would it be and why?
"Perhaps I would be more comfortable if it was an artistic movement, but If my brand was an era, I would say it is the Middle Age, quite rough but the grounds for something else, an age that people perceive as ugly but it's very meaningful and very important for how the world is now.
In between antique and modern, as I feel my creations can sometimes be a modern kick in the stomach but at the same time the ideology behind them and the way I work quite antique, as I use a traditional and ancient technique, do not want my creations to be disposable and offer lifetime assistance.
I do not aim for prettiness but for a gut feeling everyone can relate to in a genuine way.
An era related in the common minds to darkness but long and filled with inventions and discoveries. Among discoveries for example are glasses, that allowed people to see clearly, and buttons that allowed fashion to evolve and be tailored for different genders.
At the same time though symbolism behind my work can lead to prehistory (like teeth used to show strength) and my teachers often referred to my work as gothic."
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