Goldsmith Viola Hermann embeds rainbow colors in precious metals.
Anyone walking into Viola Hermann’s jewelry studio is sure to be fascinated by the blazing array of colors. Viola Hermann is a passionate goldsmith. Her trademark: She combines acrylic in every color of the rainbow with silver and gold alloys to create unusual pieces of jewelry. In addition to creativity and a pronounced feel for aesthetics and style, this Stuttgart woman is distinguished by one thing above all: a thorough apprenticeship in the artisan’s trades, similar to a metalworker’s training.
A solid foundation
Even as a schoolgirl, Viola Hermann helped out in her uncle’s goldsmith shop. This was why it was quite clear to her when she left school that this was the profession she wanted to learn. “The idea of making this static material bend to fit my visions appealed to me. And it is only with a sound knowledge of the materials that you learn how to handle them properly,” recounts the 43-year-old. After an apprenticeship lasting three and a half years and a further five years as a journeyman, the jewelry designer passed her final examinations as a master goldsmith.
During this period, she learned everything she needed to make jewelry: embossing, mounting, turning, polishing, enameling, galvanizing, soldering, welding and setting stones. And she works with the most varied of materials. She was quick to determine that classical and conventional work did not suit her and this is why she specialized in colorful jewelry creations that are in great international demand.
The artisan’s touch
In her studio, which is located in downtown Stuttgart, Viola Hermann and her partner perform almost every step in the work themselves. Many of her utensils are the same as you would find in any metalworking shop — it’s just that hers are much smaller. There is a miniature smelting furnace for all kinds of cast metals, pieces of metal, and used jewelry that customers have asked her to rework. A lathe, a polishing unit, and a precision-grinding machine are also on hand. “I do farm out some jobs — laser engraving or some cast parts, for instance — but I do most of the work myself,” the goldsmith explains.
The same applies to individual tools such as embossing dies. Countless drawers hold Viola Hermann’s models and the casting molds she has manufactured to her own design. She creates rings, pendants, earrings — even chain links — entirely by hand. To make jewelry, knowing about mathematics, chemistry and physics is just as essential as a fine touch and muscle power. “Processing metals demands plenty of strength. At the same time, I have to be very careful and know how far I can go with a certain material before it breaks or cracks while being shaped,” explains Hermann. But this is simply the exciting challenge that her work poses.
An interesting connection
Our goldsmith has developed a process for her jewelry to connect metals and acrylic by form-fit and friction, so that both elements retain their independence. The combination of cool silver with rainbow-colored acrylic that she collects from all over the world creates a most spectacular effect. “I work in layers. I start off by making a silver mount. I can add embossing or engravings to it — or particles of gold leaf. On top of all that, I place a polished acrylic ring in the desired color,” explains Viola Hermann.
The wealth of variations in material, color and design is gigantic. “It’s always something quite special to work with the customer to create an individual piece of jewelry. When actually making it I am merely the tool lending shape to the idea.”
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This article was first published in autumn 2013.