March 19th, 2020
Jesse Gussow

The dark and macabre is a unique way for people to express them selves. Jeweler Sabri Anna creates skilled pieces that feel dark and natural. Her use of bones to create molds adds a deeper connection to the dark and natural world in her work. One can tell that within each piece she creates so much of her energy and life are captured in the piece. Looking at the pieces, it is impossible to not be mesmerized by the sheer beauty, darkness and workmanship involved.

Where are you from?

I'm from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Born here but raised an hour up north from the city. My family is from Berber descendants.

How did you get interested in jewelry making?

Jewelry has a pretty big role in my family's culture. Berbers have been making jewelry for centuries. My mom has always kept a collection of antique pieces a lot of them passed down in my family. I've always been so amazed at how beautiful they were. Apart from that, metal work has always been something that fascinated me. I actually wanted to make daggers and swords when I first started out. But being a pretty heavy jewelry wearer myself, it all just made sense. I had previously wanted to study in astrophysics, but my partner at the time was studying in school as a glass blower and ended up bringing me the school of arts pamphlet, and that's when I saw it - Jewelry school. I honestly didn't even think that could exist for some reason, but my 16 year old self knew at the moment on - I signed up the next day.

What inspires your work?

Well, many things inspire my work. Nature, the cycles of creation and destruction, my Berber heritage, music, the universe - meteorites fascinates me -, biochemistry.. It's kind of a mix of everything. I do have a tendency for the 'perfectly imperfect'. Meaning I like my jewelry to be pretty raw and organic while still playing with some geometry. Bones are definitely a big part of my work too. I love playing with the harmony of life and death. Raw stones, organic textures, mountains and volcanoes, forest walks, curves in bones, the moon, are some of the many things that inspire my whole being. I also have synesthesia, so my senses get mixed up frequently and deliver some pretty interesting things that often result in cool jewelry ideas.

What do you want people to feel when they wear your work?

For a long time I didn't want to admit this to myself and to others, but I would love for people to use my jewelry as talismans. The reason I was scared is that I didn't want that vision to be looked at as a 'marketing scheme'. Most people can understand why. I find a lot of people will play off that what they're selling to you is full of 'good vibes' but actually don't care and just want to make profit off you. I think that's wrong. I honestly can't see my jewelry as anything else than talismans anymore. I put a lot of love and devotion into my work and each piece I make and touch has a meaning. The world can be shitty enough, so why wouldn't I put some intentions and love in the pieces I make and have people bathe in that love just a little bit? My little assistant (my black cat) is always by my side too, so yeah, a whole lotta love.

How would you describe your jewelry?

I would describe my jewelry as raw, rough yet delicate and intricate.Honouring nature and it's cycles, and definitely bold.

What was the first piece you made?

The very first piece of jewelry I made for fun as a kid was most likely a plastic macramé lizard I tried wearing as an earring for a couple of days - and then gave up because of the weight. Then, at 16, I was making and selling feather and assembled beading earrings. My first real silversmithed piece of jewelry was a ring in the shape of the rune Eihwaz.

What is the biggest challenge to creating jewelry?

There can be a lot of challenges when it comes to jewelry making, and even more as an artist or artisan in general. Technically speaking, soldering can be a real gravity definer. Sometimes you're not even sure that what you're doing is actually possible. Then somehow it is, and it works. I tend to solder in the air, I'm not sure how to explain that. But generally speaking, the biggest challenge to being an artist and selling your art is the whole selling and publicity aspect. Learning to sell your art and make a business out of it while trying to maintain a healthy life and not work 24/7. Learning all that takes time.

What is your favourite mythological creature?

Wow, this is a great question. Most of my friends know how much of a Lord of the rings fan I am so, the Ents have always been so wonderful to me. Trolls and goblins are pretty cool too. Oh, and Bjork.

What is your favourite material to work with and why?

Sterling silver definitely has to be my favourite material to work with. It is so easy to transform, as it is both strong and malleable at the same time. However, the fact that it is the metal I work with the most probably has an influence as to why it is my favourite metal. Oh and also, the moon and it's connection to silver.

What does your work say about you?

Wow, this is a pretty deep question. I hope that the way I see my work and how people see it are aligned and in symbiosis. I feel that my work shows that's it's all built from passion. I love and enjoy working with metal, and I love seeing ideas (mine or my clients) come alive. I do feel like that is portrayed in each of my pieces. I honour nature and respect nature, through my designs, my intentions and my decisions. I also have a bit of a darker side, like some might say. I honestly feel like that represents nature and the cycle of life and death more truthfully. There are so many realities that we can't even begin to grasp just a few. I enjoy paradoxes and feel like my work reflects that. Showing both the complexity of the techniques I use, while still delivering a relatively simple product.

Where do you source the materials that you work with?

Metal is usually pretty difficult to source. In fact, in the jewelry world, it's hard to know where your materials come from and what political realities are attached to it. That's always been a struggle for me in this field. Not really knowing where my metal is from. I've wanted to work with fair-trade silver for a couple of years but it's pretty complicated and my clients would have to be on board too since the prices do run higher. That's still something I'm working on. My work is 50/50 recycled. I buy a lot of metal but I also reuse a lot of scraps, I've even made several rings from just scraps. Another fun thing is that metal can be remelted numerous times if it's still pure. Also, 90% of the stones I use are fair-trade. I'm lucky enough to know a really amazing woman who travels to different countries to collect stones and has a little business in my city where she sells them. I even had an exact date (day, month and year) and location of the meteorites I used for my rings. That's pretty rad.

What do you dream of when you sleep?

I feel like I have many dreams a night but often can't remember them unless something during my day reminds me of it. It's like an explosion of memories. For example I dream of drinking out of a teacup, and see someone drinking from a teacup sometime during my day, my dream will all of a sudden come back to me. But I dream of all sorts of things. From spirits of poisonous plants giving me life advice, to my legs not being able to run away fast enough from predators... dreaming is weird.

What is your process for creating a piece from start to finish? From concept to photography.

Every piece differently made. I get inspired by so many different things daily. My idea book is so full that it tends to get overwhelming. I usually go for what I'm most excited about first and sketch it out in real life size. Most of my pieces are worked directly in metal, but others are worked in wax (lost wax method). I usually make a silicon mold of my finished pieces, so I can make several of them at once. This allows me to also bring the price down. The only exception is on my piercing jewelry. I don't use any moulds except for the vertebrae and pentagram septum rings.

Every one of them I make single handedly, I think they look nicer that way. When it comes to photography, I have two friends, Valentina Piras (@severaphotography) and Kamielle Dalati-Vachon (@kamikadv) who help me out. I usually set everything up and let them know what concept and mood I'm looking for. At this point tho, they already know so it's usually very easy and fun.

What is your favourite piece you’ve ever made?

Oh damn. I honestly don't know. I love several pieces but all for different reasons... My top three has got to be the moon cycles pendant, the cycled torque and the few meteorite rings I've made.

I adore the cycled jaws torque, what was the process for creating that particular piece?

Ouh man, thanks, I really love that piece too. I was so happy when I made myself one haha. The process of making it is pretty simple - or maybe it is to me because I'm a jeweler? A friend of mine gifted me some squirrel jaws she had found in the woods behind her parents house. She knew how much I loved and collected bones, so she pretty much hit the jackpot with those. Once I had them in hand, I immediately made a mold for them and had several silver castings of them. I then start working on the torque wire that I shape on a metal bust, hammering my life away. Once I get the right shape, I solder the jaws on each side and then solder some wire that I wrap around for aesthetics, but also to make the torque more sturdy and strong. Then comes the polishing. Before making the torque super shiny and clean, I make sure the squirrel teeth aren't too pointy and are comfortable enough to wear so I don't kill any of my clients (I have a tendency to dark humour...). I finish with adding some oxidation and a bit more polishing and voilà!

Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies?

Wow another great question. Oreo's are better. Used to like them a lot as a kid, but I'd rather be a boring adult and eat kale now.
Or black licorice.

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