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An Interview with Natacha Plano

When I first saw Natacha Plano's jewelry designs, it was love at first site. I was overcome with a strange, almost melancholic, nostalgia, as I gazed at earrings adorned with sweet little rabbit faces and the most delicate porcelain doll necklaces I'd ever seen. It was an almost Proustian experience, like someone had bottled up pleasant but long-forgotten memories of my early childhood and presented them to me in a neatly packaged box, tied with a ribbon of the finest silk. It all came back to me: the sweet mewing of my first kitten, the itch of the forget-me-nots that grew in my backyard as they got stuck to my lace socks during Easter egg hunts, the way the sun came through the blinds at my grandmother's house and made the trinkets on her windowsill twinkle like precious metals. Each moment I recalled was so faint and ethereal, like morning dew settling gingerly on daisies at dawn, it felt as though maybe they weren't memories at all, but rather hazy daydreams of late summer, or some combination of the two. After all, Natacha's motto is "I catch dreams and make jewelry of them."

In any event, although I was thankful for the trip down memory lane, I was overcome with a selfish desire to own one of her pieces, to have just one small part of the beautiful tapestry of dreams and memories she weaved, a physical, unchanging little souvenir of my own remembrance of things past. I am still desperate for this, but since my budget as a broke college student won't allow for it (at least not yet), I will settle for convincing others to purchase some of Natacha's jewelry so I can live vicariously through them! In all honesty though, I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had the chance to be moved by Natacha's art in such a way, not to mention being able to speak with her about it.

Who are your inspirations?

Various people and artists inspire me. But not the way: ‘I’m fond of Picasso’s blue period’ or fancy fashion designers. I couldn’t drop any names! I could go to a museum and discover some paintings or re-discover some artists I ignored when I was younger like Mary Cassatt. While traveling I also get inspired by local artists or craftmen. A big crush in 2013 was the Japanese artist Yuko Higuchi. I recently saw a documentary about a french actor that was talking in the 70’s about his vegetable garden without pesticide, talking about nature and how we should protect it. That’s inspiring! I’m more inspired by the way people live, how they develop as beings, what they say, and not the latest ‘must have bag’ they buy. Pinterest is golden for discovering artists which path you would never cross without it! I have also a lot of talented friends around me and I’m sure we inspire each other.

What work are you most proud of?

I had some nice career satisfactions (like making some pieces for The National Gallery of Victoria’s shop in Melbourne, matching JP Gaultier’s or Degas’ exhibition themes). But what makes me the most proud is just being able to do what I love for living! Before having my jewelry brand I worked as a freelance illustrator and, more widely, a things maker. A lot of people around me hoped or imagined that I’d give up and find myself a real job. Haha.

Can you describe the process of putting together one of your jewelry pieces?

Now I receive the bigger pieces like dolls or Teddy bears already made blank for me and I put all the decor on them. But I still completely make from scratch the smaller pieces! For the creative process I have two ways of working. I can choose to put in a collection a theme like Alice in Wonderland and I sketch or write any idea that is relevant to me. It can take few days or few years before I decide to make the collection. Alice took me two years because I wanted the rabbit to be not only a symbol of a pipe dream like the Disney character but also like a key element of the whole daydream. The second is starting from a color combination and asking myself where could I go with it.

What’s been the most transformative experience of your life?

Being pregnant and hearing, for the first time, both our hearts on the heartbeat monitor. I grew up at exactly that moment. Also when my dad died. I understood deeply that being is just enough.

What made you want to pursue illustration and jewelry making as your career?

As a kid I was always drawing and making things! Both my parents love to craft. My sister (@kolibrikid) also loves crafting. It was natural. I played making some Disney almanac, writing and drawing books, making various stuff. But my favorite activity (beside being completely crazy with my bike and roller skates) was looking at color palettes!  It was normal for me to sit still for two hours looking at colors. But the day I discovered Kiki and Lala (the Japanese characters), I knew I would like to make cute things and be paid for that!

How do you hope people feel when they wear one of your pieces?

My brand’s motto is ‘I catch dreams and make jewelry of them.' I want people to feel warmed and joyful like in a pleasant daydream.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?

The day one of my biggest clients let me down with no warning because a famous brand didn’t want me in the same store (not nice at all). This was also a big big chance because I developed my own site since then.


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