Byline: MA. GLAIZA LEE
Customized jewelry may be made of gold or silver, embellished with gems and semi-precious stones. Down the line come the beads and glasses. But copper for jewelry?
"Why not?" says jewelry designer Ming Ong. She has found a "pot of gold"' with copper, making it the trademark of her jewelry brand, Kathang Kamay.
"You can play with copper. It is so malleable that you can twist and bend it whichever way you want, and you don't even need a tool except your hand!" exclaimed Ming.
Aside from copper, she uses unconventional materials like resin, industrial items mixed with semi-precious stones, and lace.
"There are many jewelry designers in the Philippines, and I want to be different. An artist must have his own style and trademark. That's why I choose unconventional materials for my unconventional designs," she related.
Ming has been creating crafts out of scrap materials since she was a kid. She would tinker with any thing to create jewelry, bags and artworks, which she sold to her friends and schoolmates.
She officially started her jewelry business three years ago. She named it Kathang Kamay, based on her college thesis about a package design for a jewelry company. She deemed that the term would have better recall for people since it connotes creativeness.
"I saw this fashionista shop in Ortigas while I was job hunting. I had a small collection of jewelry at home, and I saw that the store were selling items that were as eclectic as my stuff. So, I said why not try to consign with this shop. I went inside the shop, talked to the manager/ owner, and ranted about my accessories," recalled Ming.
Eventually, she got the consignment. From then on, everything was smooth sailing and Ming started supplying other fashion shops.
Ming classifies her crafts not as fashion accessories but as "wearable arts."
"They are jewelry-sculpture arts which means wearable sculptures. They are high-breed artworks. They are a fusion of art styles from other countries, with an ethnic touch, and art noveau embellishment," Ming explained.
She added: "I don't just create a jewelry. I research on designs before executing them. I read on jewelry art, their history, their growth and development through the years. I derive inspiration from them but I don't imitate them."
These historical touches she incorporates into her designs set them apart from others.
"The history of Philippine jewelry art is very rich. You'll learn a lot from them such as where this certain style originated, what was fashionable in the early times, how the jewelry art evolved. And from this information, you can conceptualize a good design," shared Ming.
Ming loves her craft so much that she has embraced a mission -- to uplift jewelry art into its right place. She believes that jewelry art is not yet recognized as an art by the art world.
"In the art world, there are only two things that are considered art: sculpture and paintings. …