October 2, 2019
MCA Shop Vendor: Blade & Knoll
We interviewed local artisan Christina Graziano, the mastermind behind Blade & Knoll: a one-stop-shop for handmade jewelry and other household goods. Graziano’s work is largely informed by her background in sculpture — creating pieces that hang off the body or can be displayed in the home like three-dimensional works of art. Her work fuses form and function, tasteful aesthetics and utilitarian practicalities.
We’re lucky enough to carry Graziano’s stunning jewelry in the MCA Denver shop, check it out next time you’re in and treat yourself to a piece that will truly elevate and add texture to any outfit!
How does your background as a sculptural artist influence your jewelry making?
Well first of all, having studied as a sculptor, I’ve learned a lot of techniques. I learned how to fabricate wood, metals, fibers, wires, plaster—you name it! I learned how things are made not just in production, but in the old school craftsperson kind of way. I was able to take those skills and minimize them to use in my everyday production. I am also familiar with form, dimension, and space, as I used to do a lot of installations.
I really want my jewelry to take up space, have depth and movement, and be like small sculptures for your body while making that look natural.
How do you work through different iterations of an idea? Can you walk us through your process, from idea to prototype to completed work?
Making a finished piece always starts in the same place as an idea or design. For jewelry, I take a design from a sketch and start playing around with it. I tend to cut it out of the metal and make a prototype. If I like it, I will then take the design to the computer, render it and make sheets (a printout of one shape, traced out around 100 times) for each piece for production purposes.
Since each product I create is made by hand, there are always variations of steps for the production process. However, on any given jewelry piece it looks like this: cut the metal, form, file, solder, clean and sand, patina, then finish the metal. Every once in a while as a practice of “breath”, I dump out all my scraps and see what pieces talk to me. I move them around or form them until they make sense as objects or as jewelry component.
Then with my sculptural work—home goods, lighting, and mobiles—it is kind of the same process but just a little looser. I feel like I have more freedom in form and feeling.
You have said your focus is on making quality handmade jewelry and other goods with an “ever changing three-dimensional inspiration”. Can you expand on this?
Yes, my inspiration for products is changing all the time.
At the beginning I was really focused on trying to make renditions of my actual sculptures. For example, I made this one installation of sculptures a while back. The main component was a balloon sized barnacle—or half of a really large bowl—that was made out of steel and covered with intestine. This gave it a lantern like quality. I also incorporated horse hair coming out the middle of it. I had about 15 works and each one hung off the wall in a cluster, creating a barnacle on a ship type of look. I actually made the Hannya necklace with horse hair to wear to the opening and I think it really captured what I was going for.
It changes all the time. A few years ago I was focused on the human form, last year I was inspired by ocean and florals, this year I am kind of influenced by fruit and Escher type drawings. So we will see where that goes?! Sometimes I design something that is a more literal translation like our Hey Hey Hands, or it’s more abstract like our Venus Hoops (which are shell inspired).
What artist (sculptural or other) are you most influenced by?
This is something that changes all the time as well. Right now I am a big fan of M.C. Escher and the darkness, architectural elements, and illusions present in his work. I am also influenced by Constantin Brâncuși’s simple and somehow always modern sculptures. I love, love, love, Ruth Asawa and her weavings (we also went to the same school at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). Some other artists I love are Fausto Melotti, Barbara Hepworth, Garrault-Delord, Alexander Calder, László Moholy-Nagy, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
What is your favorite Blade & Knoll piece of jewelry that we carry in the MCA Denver shop? Best way to sport Blade & Knoll jewelry?
Currently my favorite piece that you have in the shop is the Altair Necklace. I just really like the volume of Horse Hair on it! It’s fun, it moves, and it’s statement piece!
I would say the best way to sport a Blade & Knoll piece is the way you want to! Do what feels right for you! This summer I was really into wearing the Pearl Hoops or The Jewels earrings. I wear them with a lot of boat neck shirts or dresses, collars, v-necks —really any which way!