Thursday, May 12, 2011

Belle Terre

Belle Terre, French for 'Beautiful Earth,' is an exquisite range of individually handcrafted jewellery designed and made by award winning ceramist Deon de Lange.

Born with a natural curiosity has always led me to travel and explore. Embarking on several trips crossing the globe, a particularly rich source of inspiration for me, reflects as an overwhelming influence in my designs. Always carrying my camera,  I visually capture ideas. Returning from one of my travels with a mind full of ideas, I started searching for a medium to create them. Then I found clay! I experimented with this wonderful new medium often late into the night, working it into all the forms from and possibilities. Over time I refined my techniques, I read books and visited exhibitions to learn as much as I could about this exciting medium.

The beads reflect my inspiration from nature, ethnic cultures, minerals and ancient artifacts. Each piece is unique and made from ceramic, glass, metal and semi precious stones. I love combining translucent glass with textured clay and polished metal. My designs are simple, refined and pared back to their basic form. They are inspired by the amazing shapes and patterns of the natural world and the wonderfully diverse human cultures I encounter.

The clay beads are sculpted from specially developed porcelaneous body to ensure strength and durability, and fired to optimum temperature to ensure every piece can be worn with confidence. The clay, stained with colored minerals, are overpainted with slips (liquid, colored clay) which often react with future glaze layers. before firing to a high temperature.

What I love about working in ceramics is that every step of the process has it’s own character. One shape will lead me to another, I like to work on several ideas at one time. Often designs change while assembling the pieces. Soft clay is so receptive to rolling, stretching, kneading, texturing, impressing, yet it tells you when it’s had enough. There is excitement and challenges in every stage,  results after several firings are mostly unpredictable, either nerve-wracking or extremely satisfying. When fired, the clay is permanently frozen in time. Forms and colors that I create today will literally last thousands of years after being subject to the high heat.

Although I use glaze formulas that are fairly predictable in terms of color and shine in the final firing, there are a lot of other variables that make glazing an adventure. I paint many layers that blend and you cannot see the real colors until the final firing melts the glazes into a glassy coating. Abundant texture, layering of lines and shapes, and an organic quality in form characterizes each bead into a world in it’s own. Creating  different compositions to wear is exciting.

Growing up in a small town in rural KwaZulu Natal, I have been passionate about art & craft for as long as I can remember and throughout the years completed many arts-based courses involving painting, ceramics, glass and metal.  Moving to Johannesburg after school, I started working in the corporate environment. I eventually found myself missing the process of creating art and craft by hand. As a result I made the decision to leave my job and start working in ceramics full time. One of the great advantages of working from home is that I’ve been allowed the time and space to get my hands dirty and get back into making things I love.

You can view the results here.

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