Richmond Made: A Museum Store Q&A Series
Richmond Made is our Q&A series focused on Richmond Makers featured in the Valentine Museum Store!
Richmond jewelry artist Icka Cantilo uses a surgeon’s precision to make hand-cut jewelry out of silver, gold and nickel free copper that is sourced from foundries specializing in recycled precious metals. Often inspired by medical illustrations, Cantilo’s designs fit perfectly with the Valentine’s Pandemic: Richmond exhibition. She sat down with our Museum Store Manager Brianna Landes to talk about her work.
Q: What is your most popular piece of jewelry? What is the story behind it?
A: My most popular Piece of jewelry is my” Lungs” necklace, hand cut out of Nickle free copper with free hand hammered texture and Patina finish. I created this design while still a student at VCU School of the Arts and I’ve continued to make the Lung Necklace for the past 9 years. Its popularity can be from some unfortunate reasons and stories/experiences I’ve gathered from customers, but also for more positive reasons such as Respiratory therapists and students and teachers of MCV School of Medicine. Creating this design, for me, was a study and an interest in medical drawings and how I can create a story to wear. It was one of my very first statement necklaces and now the technique of illustrating by means hand cutting metals has become my signature style.
Q: Do you make pieces by request or have a template that you typically go by for designing a piece?
A: I selectively take custom orders. The request has to resonate with me and the design fall within my own interests. I research and source inspiration from technical drawings, medical drawings, tattoo illustrations, museum exhibits and many other creative resources. Once I draw out my design I have to ensure its lines are appropriately measured for the gauge of metal it will be cut from. From that I create a master drawing that essentially maps out where I drill and cut.
Q: How long does it typically take to make one piece?
A: It all depends on the number of cuts and how detailed the line work of my design is. For instance I have a cat skull necklace which only has three areas of negative space to be cut out, whereas, my insect wing designs are the same size and take me 10 times longer because of the intricacy of the design.
Come see Icka Cantilo’s jewelry at The Valentine! The exclusive Apothecary Bottle necklace and earrings were inspired by the Pandemic: Richmond exhibit on view now.