I recently had the pleasure of working with metalsmith and sculptor Talya Baharal. She has established herself as one of the nation’s top creators of unique works of wearable art. Not only do I appreciate her work from the perspective of another maker, but she is such a kind and giving individual with great integrity. I think that is why we value handmade work. I don’t believe there is a way for an artist to make a piece and not leave their personality or a shadow of who they are as evidence in their creation.
Originally from Israel, Talya grew up with jewelry as part of her life in a way that many young girls do; her mother was often draped in textured lines of layered necklaces and was usually found wearing rings of every size and color on each finger. Never formally trained, Talya broke all the molds. In 1986, she founded her own jewelry company and by 1987, Saks Fifth Avenue featured her as a designer in their jewelry department and catalog. She said no one told her it was supposed to be hard, so she had nothing to hold her back. She has been creating unique and successful work ever since.
In 1988 Talya, along with her husband Gene Gnida, created Baharal-Gnida Designs. Their hand-constructed jewelry is primarily made of silver, copper, and bronze. Their individual backgrounds as makers allow them to continually challenge and collaborate with each other. The pieces are often hollow constructed, allowing them to have great visual weight and yet still be comfortable to wear. Theirs is a masterful combination of creative skill and design techniques. Earrings are often mismatched by design and several necklaces are dual sided, allowing the wearer to choose which design they want to share, the other remaining hidden, intended simply for the wearer’s knowledge.
Kari Rinn, guest jewelry blogger, has a BFA and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. She was the Gallery Director of Pistachios in Chicago, Illinois. Images of her jewelry have been published in the magazines Metalsmith and American Craft and in the books 500 Wedding Rings and 500 Earrings.