Purvi Sanghvi. The Other Side. Creative. Talented. Someone who actually does think out of the box. She makes jewellery out of nibs. As in ink pen nibs!!
It is been a while since I posted about those that make up effortless friendships in my life – I met Purvi through a mutual friend on an online forum. Our interaction was limited but I found myself in awe of the work she does.
On a trip to Mumbai I called and told her I would be in town and would she like to meet for chai. She not only met me, she drove across Mumbai to pick me up! We shared lunch and a very honest conversation on life in general. That was the start of my effortless friendship with her. She is one absolutely astounding person. Open and very very talented.
I am going to let her tell you her story in her own words.
What is your educational back ground?
I studied Bcom and then did a Diploma in Business Management. After completing the DBM I learned something which I had been wanting to do since school – pottery. I studied and trained in the way of several short courses in pottery in India, Andretta and in the UK , Sandy Brown and Douglas Phillips at Somerset
The urge to learn pottery took me to various places and was the catalyst that fired my interest in travel, culture, people, food. Travel opened my eyes to many different cultures across the world. The exposure during my travel to learn pottery has stayed with me even now.
Any educational background in Jewellery Design?
While studying production pottery at Andretta, with Mansimran Singh I came across clay buttons made by a young village man who used to visit the studio and sit around chatting with us. After finishing the course I came back and set up a studio in our garage. I made lots of clay jewellery along with functional ware and even exhibited some of my work. In fact I exhibited at Tokoname, Japan.
After a few years I came to a stage in life and work where I felt stuck with my skills and saw no growth or future. It was a hard time for me and an extremely low phase in my life. It was by chance that I applied for the MA course while on a holiday in London and got an opportunity to study.
Again the exposure of living on my own for the first time in a different country and studying was initially overwhelming but I settled in after a while. The unbelievable contemporary jewellery and the fact that there are actually no boundaries of use of material was freeing .
During the course of my study and stay in London, I met some very interesting people and a few not so interesting as well . However, I realized humans are the ‘same’ all over the world. My teacher Mah Rana has been a very big inspiration and I appreciate that she had the patience with me during the course
I did MA jewellery design from John Cass Dept of Art and Design , London Metropolitan University, London.
Why this particular name for your brand?
My work does not involve traditional jewellery as is familiar with most people in India. The Other Side represents the other ‘face’ of jewellery. In india people are so enamoured with silver, gold and diamonds that any jewellery made from anything other than these materials is regarded as ‘fake, or ‘imitation’ and is more often than not looked down upon. I find these words very degrading to the meaning of ‘Jewellery’. Jewellery is a personal object that you wear on your body and which should represent and reflect you, your thoughts, your beliefs and not just your financial status. I believe it can be worn by anyone and everyone but the person wearing the piece should be able to connect with what they are wearing.
However, I don’t say that you should not wear the diamonds, gold and silver, I am just saying please don’t think that jewellery made from things other than gold, silver, precious stones and diamonds is in any way ‘poor’, shameful or not worth the money!
I am happy that people like my jewellery and can connect with it.The Other Side jewellery is not conventional jewellery though it is wearable and designed keeping in mind the norms of jewellery.
What is the process involved – concept to creation?
The materials inspire me to start work and simultaneously the concept is derived on. I don’t usually sketch the designs. However, when there are many variations and ideas which I can’t remember, I feel the need to draw and refer to them at the time of creating. I believe I would position myself midway between a craft person and a designer.
I sometimes get attached to a particular piece or design and I am passionate about making the piece by myself. I am picky about finish and I cannot sell a piece which is not finished well. I would be too embarrassed if a potential buyer found a flaw in construction. I am always striving to find jewellery fittings of good quality and material.
Do you individually hand craft each piece or do you have karigars…
I do the knotting of the threads and stringing myself. Only when the piece is finished does the patwa come into the picture to do the dori/ghundi work. Although he has taught me the art of making the tassel as well I prefer that he does it as his finish is better than mine. There is no use wasting time and effort doing the dori work since the patwas seem to have been born with threads in their hands
I am very happy to say that the collections of Spirit, Forgotten Letters, Spring, are completely done by myself. I don’t stock my jewellery and hence work on custom orders or in limited edition or one offs. The forthcoming new collection is ‘Unstirred ‘ made from ceramic glazed, unglazed beads, bamboo coral, lava beads,threads etc. which are one offs as well.
My family had a business making ink pens. A few years ago during a conversation with my father he mentioned that he would have to sell the remaining stock of nibs to the bhangarwala (scrap dealer). Since the factory had since closed down, there was raw stock of around 150 kgs of nibs and he wanted to clean up the space.
I was aghast with what he said and requested that I be allowed to use some nibs to make some jewellery. He agreed. I spent the first few days just looking at the nibs to just get a ‘feel’ of them. I didn’t want to alter the shape if I could help it. Since altering would mean that the plating would be damaged and I would need to re- plate them and there was a chance that they may not look like nibs in the end. Though at sometime I do hope to experiment with altering the shape and design of the nibs to have more variety. I think it would be interesting to see a new dimension to the use of nibs.
Further I realized that if the nibs were to be discarded, the history and story of the pen in India would never be heard, would remain untold and would die along with the nibs. I wanted to celebrate the history of nibs and also endeavor to make good use of the beautiful nibs in my own small way.
All these nibs were handmade in the factory and have gone through several hands to give them the shape, look and feel that they have. To me they are like beautiful gold coins.
You can watch part of the story of this incredible journey here as was told at TEDx talk on the India Memory Project.
What compels you to keep creating?
Nothing compels and everything compels.
I like working with my hands and love the intricacy and concentration required while making a piece. The inward looking and thinking happens during that time. And I believe that shows in the jewellery. There are long phases/periods where I don’t design at all. During this time I listen to music, watch movies, read and travel. And then one day I will start the collection and complete it in a week.
The last completed collection was Spring. It was made from gold plated steel ball pen springs. The connecting of the springs to create shapes is most interesting and shows how versatile a mundane object like a ball pen spring can be.
What have your interactions with people online/fb (to do with your work) taught you?
Interaction on Facebook have been interesting. Sometimes information is rejected by me, sometimes it has made me work harder. Overall I have had a positive response from online interactions. Even though I find it difficult to communicate with people online, I have been encouraged and praised by the audience which has had me going until now.
Could you tell us of a piece that you did not want to part with and did not!!
A friend wanted to buy this piece. I was ready to sell it initially. In fact this piece was exhibited at Leginca, Poland at the Silver festival.
I designed this piece not so much as to enter the competition but to have an excuse to visit Poland which of course I did.
When the piece came back to Mumbai after being exhibited in the gallery for a few months, my friend asked for the piece and the price. When I had to give a price to my friend and I was discussing it with my mom, she said “Don’t sell it. You have made it and the price is nothing for the effort you have put in anyway. Don’t sell it for the money.” I was so relieved as that was on my mind but was not able to say a ‘no’ since I had committed the piece to my friend . I am happy that I didn’t sell it and kept it for myself.
How does one buy your art from you?
If anyone wants to buy, I would love to hear from them.
I am very interested in knowing who wants to wear it, and would love a one to one interaction. You can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me on the Facebook page and you will receive a reply promptly ! I usually make one off’ s or very limited pieces of a design.
Note- All nib pieces are wearable, they don’t hurt and they are attractive.
All finished pieces are handmade by me . A lot of time and effort is put in.
The nibs are made of steel and gold plated. Like all jewellery, care needs to be taken while wearing and storing the pieces. The nib colour will change over a period of time.
I need to get me one from the ‘Forgotten Letters’ or the ‘Flight’ series. Soon. I love Purvi’s work.