Cynde Hujarski - Film Jewelry

Cynde Hujarski is a Cleveland, Ohio area jewelry artist combining her metal-smithing and textile skills to create colorful and light-weight jewelry made from 35mm film negatives and slide film. We recently had a chance to catch up with with Cynde and learn more about her design inspiration, materials, and construction.

Design Inspiration

Cynde Hujarski - Earrings

Cynde Hujarski - Earrings

"I first found inspiration for using recycled materials when I attended an exhibition at the Museum of Art & Design in New York while attending KSU.  I was also influenced greatly by an artist named El Anatsui.  He creates room size textiles from discarded liquor bottle labels.  Further research into the many artists using ordinary everyday objects to make large scale sculptural art work greatly influenced me initially. 

I loved the idea of taking a material that would have otherwise been discarded and creating something beautiful and useful.   

I had but one child 26 years ago and took way too many pictures of him.  This was long before digital technology, so I had a lot of film negatives in storage collecting dust so I decided to start experimenting with them in the KSU metals studio over summer break going into my senior year.  Once I began making jewelry using various metals and  35mm film negatives, I decided to create a production line.  I eventually added slide film images to the line for another look entirely.  My more recent work incorporates the use of photographic images of Patterns in Nature represented on enamels.  I spend a lot of time in nature closely examining plants, flowers and trees so the beauty found in nature informs my work greatly.  Very often, we may enjoy the outdoors, but being a jewelry maker, I have a tendency to examine things in greater detail." 

Materials Matter

"While selling my work at art shows many people ask me if I'm running out of materials.  I just laugh and say that I've become a hoarder of the materials.  It's amazing how many people still have old slides and negatives still hanging out in their basement and attics.  They don't really want to get rid of them because they think it's their only source for old family images.  I will tell them that if they ever change their minds, please let me know.  Some people just ask me if I want more materials and have been happy to share their negatives and slides with me.  I think they ultimately realize (like I did) that they will probably never filter through them and actually print photos.  This is how I acquired many, many boxes of negatives and slides."

Preparation of Materials

"I remove some color/image from the film negatives and then re-dye them, wash them in soapy water and rinse.  Then I will sort by color and proceed to cut, bend, shape, fold or whatever I need to suit the particular piece.  In some cases, I'm using only the sprocket edges.  Other times, I'm using the whole image which has been altered by the dying process.  In the case of slide film images and black and white negatives, I do not alter their coloration at all.  They have beauty within them as is."

Design & Construction

"For my one-of-a-kind pieces, I would create detailed drawings that show how I'm planning to use the film combined with other materials such as silver, copper or even alternative materials like aquarium tubing.  I start construction on prototype materials such as cardboard and paper to work out any problems with construction, fit, clasps and closures.  The production pieces come from the other more complex designs. 

In addition to coloring the natives, I use other tools in my studio.  I use a rolling mill to imprint texture in the metal.  I also use a drill press, belt sander and bench shear to do various alterations to the metals.  When enameling, I use a disc cutter to cut the shapes and then place them in a dapping block to give them a slight curve.  They are cleaned and enameled through a process using a form of powdered glass and a kiln.  I manipulate photographic images in photoshop.  They are printed, transferred to the enamel, and fired in the kiln one final time to make them permanent parts of the enamel pieces.  I then use those pieces to make earrings and pendants."

Are you looking for a one-of-a-kind Cleveland shopping experience? Fra Angelica Studio proudly carries an extensive collection of Cynde's stunning art-to-wear. If you're searching for a unique gift idea for someone special or bold and beautiful designs for yourself, stop on by to try some on, or have a look.