When it’s winter in Chicago, we’ll still have Sarah’s white hot shores, opalescent hues, sleek Futurist curves, and shining urban seas. Her recent collection, Nami, directly mines art history: an iridescent black peacock pearl resting atop a delicate golden crescent moon recalls a camera obscura; a miniature replica of Brancusi’s Bird in Space dangles from a long, delicate chain. In one photograph, the model wears a white linen cap, her red hair lilting in two thin braids, and gazes at a piece of pale jute draped on a chain link fence. Her necklace, made of hand sculpted and cast bronze pendants culminating in a freshwater white pearl, rests on her elegant silk dress just between her shoulder blades.
—Sofia Leiby, Guest Editor of the Week
S. Shikama is a jewelry line run by Chicago-based designer Sarah Shikama.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m a designer based in Chicago, IL. I have been designing jewelry since 2009. I design collections to attempt to unfold new techniques, harnish new skills and offer a new story each season.
How has living in Chicago affected your work? The network of friends, mentors and supporters I have met here have offered me influential guidance and support in the development of my art practice. There are many useful resources in Chicago to get your hands on.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? When I began to study metal smithing two years ago, I was strongly influenced Constantin Brancusi’s sculptures. My first pieces cast mimicked the purity and simplistic guidelines of his practice. I mostly use bronze, when it’s polished it creates a seamless mirror like appearance to the metal. My spring collection, Nami, was inspired by the sea. I wanted to forge designs that looked as though they’re washed up on from the depths of the ocean floor, treasures long abandoned from a shipwreck. I created textures in a few pieces that mimicked the rippled patterns in tidal waves and incorporated freshwater pearls and lapis stone settings.
How did your interest in art or fashion begin? I come from a family with artistic backgrounds. My introduction to fashion came from my mother who was a model in Tokyo in the 70s. I began altering my clothing in high school when I learned to use a sewing machine. I also studied a year of fashion my first year living in Chicago. My influence to construct and pay attention to detail came from my father who was a self taught carpenter.
What designers are you interested in right now? I admire the works and sculptures of Carol Bove, Lynda Benglis and Tauba Auerbach. In fashion, Celine, threeAsFour, Anne Demeulemeester and Electric Feathers.
What past trends in fashion should never come back? Trends are a part of fashion culture, the really good and bad, I’m into it all. They keep it interesting.
Tell us about your work process and how it develops. It’s somewhat of an obsession that occurs. I become fixated on a set of particular images I’ve collected through experience or research to begin generating motifs and colors I want to use. The physical part of creating the design into metal can present challenges, but the mistakes often lead me to rediscover a new technique.
How long have you lived in Chicago and what brought you there? I have been in Chicago for 10 years. I moved here to study fashion design. After a year I focused my studies in art and took a few classes in painting, print and fiber studies at SAIC.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? Alexis Chung instagramed Natalie Bergman of Wild Belles wearing one of my designs; it was two girl-crushes in one moment.
Any recent or upcoming events you are involved in that we should know about? I just debuted my new collection with a trunk show at Tusk, and I’ll be participating in a few art fairs this summer. You can stay in touch with all future projects and events via: