Federica Sala is a contemporary jewellery artist living and working in Italy. Like a scientist, she studies the properties of materials in order to create new bodies and entities that could belong to another world. By exploring the thought of alternative realities, where everything is possible and looks exactly the opposite of what we know, she challenges the perspective of the user, raising a much more gentle and sensitive perception of our surroundings.
What have you rebelled against in the past, and what are you rebelling against now?
I don’t see myself as a rebel, but a fighter. I’ve always been spotted as the “good girl”. I think this has happened because all the wars I have been fighting were done gently and in silence, with a lot of time and a lot of patience. My rebellions are slow and longer than anyone would think.
Do you need to rebel to enjoy your pieces?
If “to rebel” means to loose control, definitely yes. You need to overcome limits and to face darkness before enjoying the light.
Do you use your own pieces?
Yes, but not everyday. I don’t wear jewellery to look prettier. I wear jewellery first for myself. Jewellery is a very powerful medium of communication. I’m a shy woman and I don’t feel comfortable to be looked at by others. The majority of my pieces are big and bold statements that require a strong attitude. That’s why they are mine, they are my voice, the things I’m not able to express in other ways except in jewellery. When I’m wearing them, it’s not a normal day, it’s a day of consciousness and declaration of myself to the world.
Do you think dishware can still be improved? If yes, in what way?
Sure. Everything can always be improved. It’s a matter of technique. If you think everything has been invented and done yet, you won’t ever be able to discover new possibilities. With glass people are afraid of tempting something new: glass is fragile and expensive, two things that together have contributed to create its mystery, its legend, but also its decay and the lack of innovation. Working with this material means to be able to overcome those limits motivated by the fascination it evokes. Being able to face this material as any others, with no limitations, is the best way to work with it and to improve its applications.
What was the inspiration for your Steinbeisser series?
During my last year of MFA in I’ve created the Oxymorons, a complicated collection of glass jewellery in which glass was combined together with stones and minerals. Thanks to this experience, I started merging what I consider the non-conciliable materials. This direction is still inspiring me in all new projects. I’m interested in looking for a tension between different materials and freezing it into my pieces. I like to see the pieces fighting, and I like the process of myself fighting to create them too. The Steinbeisser pieces were the beginning of my experimentation with glass and metals, especially glass together with iron.
Describe your work in 3 words!
Bold. Experimental. Delicate.
What kind of materials do you use and where do you get them from?
I’ve been using mainly natural materials, trying to keep them pure in their appearance. I’m working with glass, iron, gold, silver, stones and wood. I’ve been worked with several glassmakers from Murano and Bergamo, depending on the technique and the type of glass I need for my projects. Stones and minerals come mainly from South America, wood comes from my hometown and all the metals come from Italy. I prepare all the alloys by myself.
What are you working on right now?
I’m experimenting, fighting, leaving, thinking, failing, waiting and going back. I can’t get enough of it. Right now I’m struggling with a new collection that has been very challenging for me, due to its meaning and its technical difficulty. I’m keeping on postponing the deadline because I feel like I’m not completely done with it, but I think this is part of the process. I must force myself to simply let it go.
What excites you about tomorrow?
The sense of hope with all its possibilities and the idea of uncertainty that makes today “The Day” to be lived. The idea of tomorrow makes me believe that everything could be possible but the fear of not having it makes me today a woman with no regrets.
What has been your favourite dinner experience?
Each single dinner I had together with my husband.
What further ambitions do you have?
I would love to do an artist in residence, probably more than one, I would be interested in going to Corning and to Idar-Oberstein. I’ve been working on a very complicated project since more than two years, and it would be amazing to see it becoming real. I would love to keep on working, experimenting and researching, earning my living in order to tell my child that he really can be whatever he wants in his life, because I managed it too.