Whose house? Alexandra’s house

Words like “nature,” “organic” and “sustainability” aren’t necessarily what comes to mind when one considers the art of making jewelry. But jeweler Alexandra Tumanov is gleefully challenging those ideas. For the past nine years, Tumanov has been incorporating natural materials into jewelry through her shop, Regalia. 

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“It’s a jewelry line based on natural themes,” Tumanov says in her Exchange District studio, which does triple duty as a workshop, shop and personal space. “I use twigs, leaves, wooden objects and other organic matter, and I make them into metal. It’s a practice called organic casting.” 

In addition to using organic materials in her work, Tumanov takes design cues from nature as well. She hand designs each piece, ensuring that every item embraces the chaos of nature. 

“I have a certain look,” Tumanov says. “If people like the look, they come to me and I make them one-of-a-kind pieces. Sometimes people will come to me and say, ‘Could you do a heart like this, with little diamonds around it?’ Then I’ll recommend them to someone else, because they’ll do that much better.” 

Tumanov also takes pains to make sure all of her materials are ethically and sustainably obtained. 

“All of my metal is recycled,” Tumanov says. “All of my gemstones have an origin story. I know where they come from and I try to get to know the mines where they come from.”

 

1) SHOP 

“Generally, people enter here and I try to have stock finished. This is all jewelry that’s ready to go. You can come through here, pick through things, I can do the transaction and everything upfront. It’s the showcase area.” 

 

2) ORGANIC MATERIAL CABINET 

“This is where I store all the leaves that will potentially become metal. It’s functional storage. I can see right into it. I think (the cabinet) was a record player originally, but now it’s a secret kitchen.”

 

3) ISLAND COUNTER 

“This is where I do all my consultations. (The customer and I) gather around the island and I have all my raw materials here. We talk about gemstones, we write down all our ideas. It’s sort of the design hub. Basically, it’s where all the action happens.” 

 

4) SOLDERING TORCH 

“I have my own mini-torch! I’d turn it on, but I still have to open the tanks. I just got new ones.” 

 

5) GEMSTONES 

“At the moment, I love oceanic blues, so I have lots of turquoise and opals. I also really gravitate towards sapphires and emeralds because I have a really good source for them. But I evolve as time goes on.” 

 

6) SCALE METAL 

“This is a new thing I’ve been coming up with. It came out of working at all the folk fests in the summertime. There’s usually two. You wear one on each shoulder with a binding, and you get kind of a Trojan thing.” 

 

7) TOOL WORKSHOP 

“This is where I do my wax carving, my sandpapering, stone setting. All my motors and bits are here. This is sort of the grunt work, maybe what people don’t imagine goes into jewelry making. Lots of sanding, metal dust, binoculars.”

Published in Volume 70, Number 17 of The Uniter (January 28, 2016)

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