Friday, March 29, 2013


I am currently killing time in the print lab at school, reminded of all the times I used to blog from internet cafes in Maputo and Rio. Here at Casa Cali, I blog from home. It's a different feeling, for sure.

I am waiting for these giant hemisphere maps to print, 36 inches across. I found the originals at the Alameda Antiques Fair last month and thought they would go well with my senior show. The maps are from the late 1800's and show the world as it no longer exists. I scanned them, enlarged them, and am printing them as a test for a large wall piece I plan to make for my thesis exposition. I want to use it to show where the various materials I'm using come from, to provide a visual reference for the places that have influenced me over the years. Sort of like a giant legend for all of my pieces.

I'm not sure yet about all the details, but there is only one way to figure it out, and that's by doing it. I envision printing the maps on aluminum for the installation and riveting the materials onto the surface. I also have an idea about multiple layers, but again I'm not sure exactly how it will all come together.

If I've learned one thing over the past few years, it's that the first attempt will rarely be the final form that something takes. You have to try, try again, and often try several more times before your vision is attained. Here's to starting this process early.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Alexandra Amaro Lifestyle Photoshoot #2

Photoshoots are EXHAUSTING but so incredibly worth the effort. I am lucky to have friends who are striking beauties and willing to model my jewelry.

Here is a little (unedited) preview of the shoot I finished just hours ago with Lauren Lauren, a fellow metalsmith and jeweler-in-training at CCA.

I am very, very pleased with the results!

Jewelry: Alexandra Amaro
Photography: Alexandra Amaro
Model: Lauren Lauren
Styling: Alexandra Amaro
Hair and Makeup: Lauren Lauren
on location in Point Richmond, CA

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Networking: Moving to Mozambique

Morning light at Casa Cali.
Sitting here in our living room at Casa Cali enjoying the subtle colors of the morning, I am struck by how many emails I still recieve. I am so happy that, 3.5 years after leaving Mozambique, this blog continues to be useful and relevant to those of you considering moving there. Even though my advice is increasingly outdated, I am always happy to offer an opinion or suggestion to those who write me.

I was wondering if some of you who are in Moz now might offer some more current tips to the readers of this blog in the comments here. Specifically:

- What are housing prices like these days?
- How did you find your housing? What do you recommend for others?
- How did you find work?
- How have you managed to make friends?

Any input would be greatly appreciated to keep this space and my advice as current and relevant as possible!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Happy Hour

My teachers let us out of class an hour early today. I am so appreciative of this unexpected extra time.

I am sitting on the deck with Rico, having a Smithwicks, and taking a break. Just me and him, which is great because we love our guests but it's awesome to have a moment alone.

In an hour, it's studio time! I am going to make 14k wee stud earrings. For myself. Because it's what I feel like doing, and I've discovered one of the tricks to getting hella work done (that is NorCal slang for those of you far away) is to simply make what you feel like making.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Alexandra Amaro Lifestyle Photoshoot

Jewelry: Alexandra Amaro
Styling: Alexandra Amaro
Photography: Alexandra Amaro
Models: Bárbara Albuquerque and Inês Carijó
Hair and Makeup: Bárbara Albuquerque and Inês Carijó
shot on location in Point Richmond

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Friday, March 01, 2013

Marrying the Designer with the Traveler

Carved coral earrings from the Italian side of my family, remixed with antique trade bead tubes found at Mozambique Island. 14k and 10k gold hardware.

I've been working hard over the past few days to update my Alexandra Amaro jewelry website. I am trying to bridge the gap between what I am making in art school for my senior thesis and the work that I make otherwise. Check out the progress here.

For a long time I've felt like I have two distinct jewelry styles: "designer Ali" and "worldly Ali".

The first is clean, almost minimalist organic geometry. It's what happens when I sit down and sketch out a plan for a piece. "Designer Ali" is commercial, appealing to a wide audience, easy to wear. It is also, in the words of many a professor and peer at CCA, "safe work." Safe work isn't necessarily bad, but it isn't innovative or especially outstanding.

My other style, "worldly Ali," has its roots in what I loved making in Mozambique: fusion work that brings together various antique, ethnic, travel-inspired elements in a high-touch presentation. I've refined that look, and I love it. But it's very different from "designer Ali."

I often think that if you put the two categories of work side by side, nobody would ever believe that the same artist made them. On a certain level, this has always bothered me. I've long wanted to reconcile these two parts of my creative self, to marry them and create a hybrid offspring. With each new piece I make for my senior project, I believe I am coming closer.

The big question I am asked these days is, "So what are you going to do once you graduate?"

Honestly, I don't know. I have lots of ideas, I can see several viable paths to follow, but I don't really know what I want in terms of a grand strategy.

I know a few things, though:

- I want to continue working in the style of my senior thesis work. "Origins and Routes" is the kind of work I've always dreamed of doing. I find it highly fulfilling, exciting, and motivating (even when it's frustrating). I love working with materials from distant places and times. I am obsessed with where things came from, who used to own them, what path they traveled to reach me. I like telling stories about identity and place through materials. This style of cultural re-mix work speaks to me in a major way, and I feel that I should keep doing it, even if it's not immediately obvious who would buy it or where I would sell it successfully.

- I don't enjoy making the same thing twice. Yes, this will improve once I get an assistant and don't have to do 100% of the grunt work (e.g. filing, sanding, polishing, cutting) associated with metalsmithing. However, it's a fact that I am a one-of-a-kind girl. That said, I know that being able to work in some sort of production model is helpful (necessary, even). I believe the solution is to work in series, but the details are still becoming clear.

- I want to make things that nobody else could make. Us metalsmiths are a pretty versatile lot. We have mad skills, and once we are trained we can work in essentially any style, making any kind of piece. I could make a Tiffany-style solitaire engagement ring just as readily as I could make a necklace out of found objects and melted plastic. So it comes down to a unique vision. I believe my Origins and Routes work is on the right path here, too. Yes, technically others could assemble or form these pieces, but nobody will ever have the same vision I do when it comes to the cultural mash-up.

- I don't want to grow to hate being a jeweler. I know it's a possibility, that burn-out is hugely common especially when acting as a one woman operation. But I really, really, really want to avoid it. I also don't want my hands to crap out on me. I have problems with tendonitis and fatigue and pain, but it's manageable as long as I don't abuse my body with long hours and horribly repetitive tasks.

Other than that, it's pretty much up in the air. I have faith that as graduation draws closer, answers will become more obvious. Until then, I will continue to prepare as much as possible for that elusive next step. Website updates, photo shoots, business plan brainstorming, gallery and boutique scouting, and everything else that seems of use no matter which path I decide to follow.