Recently I had read a quick blurb about two sisters, both artists, using a material I had dismissed for years as a rudimentary crafting element…polymer clay. I had watched as involved artists before them played with creating elaborate dye canes or learned to combine multi-colors in controlled patterns and not once muddy the colors…then you come across these two sisters who thought of something new, yet so simple…creating wearable sculptures by manipulating polymer clay, adding semi-precious gems and gilt with gold paint. Sounds so simple BUT amazingly hard…whenever you cross the line from craft to art.
Claudia & Catalina Pieschacon are Colombian born sisters…both trained designers and artists in their own right, with a love of art, design, fashion, colors & textures.
Claudia is trained & educated in Interior Design, as well as being an accomplished painter & sculptor.
Catalina got her degree in Textile Design and worked for a time at Ralph Lauren as a home furnishing designer.
Together they have created an exquisite, one-of-a-kind jewelry line. See all of what they create at: http://www.cleoandcatjewels.com
I was able to do a short interview with them and they were as gracious & generous as they are talented…I didn’t want to even take a chance of misquoting them so here is the interview in it’s entirety:
(1) this first part I would like to leave open to you…tell me only what you think you feel comfortable indulging…personal stats like age, married or single, children, familial support.
Claudia: I am 44 years old, the second of three sisters.I am married with two children, a 16 year old girl and an 8 year old boy. I live in Parkland,Florida which is also where our studio is located. I feel that now that my children are older I can really pursue my dream and continue doing whatever I left in stand by for them. I won’t say it's easy, but if you are organized and determined to pursue your dreams you can manage both family and business without any conflict, and as it is my case, if you have a supportive husband (partner) things can go even better. Even my 16 year old sometimes helps Cleo & Cat with some final touches in the pieces.
Catalina: I am 31 years old, the youngest of the three. I lived in New York for 10 years and moved to Florida in the summer of 2006 to start the business with Claudia. I moved back to NY a little less than a year ago. I currently live with my boyfriend. I love being back in this city. It helps feed all my creative energy.
(2) I know that in my life, sibling relationships have been a test in patience, sharing, & different degrees of “loving” depending on our stage of life.
Claudia: For us it has been a fun project since the beginning. We have incredibly similar taste and our business goals point to the same direction. If there is any conflict, we talk about it, and solve it fast so that it does not interfere with our creative process.
Catalina: I think that is exactly what is great about working with your sister. If we have something to say to each other, we say it upfront. You can't be that brutally honest in the corporate world.
Opening a business, though artistic in nature, must have been difficult in the best of families.
Who thought of the concept of the business?
Claudia: We always wanted to join our talents, and we were always thinking of ways to do it. It was me who one day, after being in Paris and seeing a woman wearing a beautiful, big ring, started to create some pieces with the Polymer Clay I had home for my children's school projects, and some beads I got at a local crafts store. Ideas just started to flow and in one day I created more than ten statement rings. I wore one to the mall and kept the others in my bag. People started asking about my ring and that same day I sold almost all of them. I immediately called my sister, we talked about a million ideas, developed some of them, and after seeing the reaction from friends and family we knew that we found what we were looking to do together.
Catalina: For years we had talked about fusing our creative energy into a business. We had many ideas, but when Claudia showed me a ring she had made, I knew this was it. For weeks, we would work late nights making our first collection. It was exciting for us from the very beginning. We have always had a good relationship, so we weren't worried about any sibling rivalry or anything.
With the two pf you in two different cities…how do you breakdown the duties?...who does what?...do you meet or conference daily or weekly to get the business side handled?...and do you resort to sibling roles to get things done?
Claudia: At the beginning, when Catalina lived in Florida, we used to do our manufacturing together most of the time. Now that Catalina lives in New York she is in in charge of most the company's managment, shows, and comes to Florida once a month to do some production herself. We speak daily, and we assign each other who is doing what for the day or the week. There is not really a sibling role, we have to be very business oriented and kind of put aside our family ties, but I have to say that at least for me is it is so much fun to work with my sister, we laugh a lot, our tastes are very similar, and we go toward the same direction business wise.
Catalina: Yes, what is great is that we are constantly communicating. I eventually will also have some studio space up here where I can create as well. For now, I fly down to Florida practically every month to work on production and starting new collections. I plan to be down there before next market. It's wonderful working with my sister, it's just fun and easy. We both have the same vision.
(3) I realize that both of you are involved with the design work…was it a wonderful play of events that lead you to decide to use the same medium to create a seamless connection amongst the collection?
Claudia: Yes, I would say it was almost like a magical play of events. I had the idea to use this wonderful medium, and Catalina instantly connected to the idea bringing to it all her creative background and inspiration.
Catalina: We love how versatile this material is. In the beginning we developed some of our pieces into gold and silver, but the buyers at the first trade show we did, didn't even pay attention to them. They were intrigued by the material.
(4) I do see some difference only in style…some seem more organic & curvy, while some pieces are playing with sculptural proportions & the tension they create…is this a natural divide or the difference between your two styles?
Claudia: Catalina is more "detail oriented" than me. She loves to create more intricate pieces, more organic, and sometimes dramatic. My pieces are more simple, but sculptural, I always let my creative spirit guide my hands through the whole process.
Catalina: Yes, even though we each have our own unique style, there is a cohesiveness within our styles. Sometimes we forget who made what piece. We feed off the other persons idea and add our own special twist to it. This is what keeps it constantly new. There is never a lack of ideas.
(5) there also seems to be breaks in “exuberance”, for example the bracelet/cuff section….it seemed exciting from the inside>>>out…the kind of feeling when one gets a renewal of inspiration…is this my imagination?
Claudia: Our inspiration is in a constant renewal, sometimes just seeing an interesting tree, leaf, or even a drop of water, brings a lot of new ideas that we, in one way or another, transfer to our creations.
Catalina: Yes, I would say everything around us always gets linked back into ideas for jewelry. Anything from walking down the street to a movie we've seen.
(6) here’s a technical question…since your work is relatively large & sculptural, do you need an under carriage to handle the stress of the piece especially for the rings & bracelets?
Claudia: We do not use any support under our pieces. Only for the new line of adjustable rings we use an adjustable silver band.
Catalina: That is what is so great about polymer clay. It lends itself to making bold statement pieces. We are however careful to not make any areas where there can be breaking points.
(7) most artists are not good business people…(I know it’s a horrible generality), if this is true of you both…what have you done to handle it? Your website is gorgeous… did you style it yourself or did you hire out?...do you handle your own PR? Do you hire reps for your collection?
Claudia: We started managing our own business but right now we hired a small business consultant company. We have someone do all our PR. Our website was done by an excellent group of creative people in Florida who immediately interpreted our ideas for the website.
We do our own shows and representation.
Catalina: I think that my experience of having worked in Production at Ann Taylor and then designing and doing product development at Ralph Lauren, definitely taught me many things about business, on how organization and being detail oriented is a must. Also, we have a vision that we don't want to steer away from or settle for anything less. We always think everything out very thoroughly to be sure its best for our business. Now that the business is growing, we have great consultants who are helping us with this.
(8) what you create is definitely “wearable art”….has being in a “business” taken away from your artistic roots? Or maybe put in a more realistic way…at the end of the day, are your creative decisions influenced more by art or business?
Claudia: It has to be mix of both. If I let just my artistic side take over the creation then the piece would not be wearable, and more fit for a museum, just to look at. We have to think of comfort, marketability, and production whenever we create a piece.
Catalina: For me, being in this business has not taken anything away from my artistic roots. I feel them growing more and more with Cleo & Cat. It is like our baby. The creative wheels are always churning. We definitely have to be sure that our pieces stay within "wearable art", so that people can actually wear it and feel comfortable. This goes hand in hand with the creative process.
(9) here is a “soapbox” for you…..is there anything else we didn’t cover that you would like to talk about…it doesn’t even have to be art or business related…anything that is bugging you now?
Claudia: I have to say that time is something that I need more of.
Catalina: I agree with Claudia.