Sunday, March 14, 2010

Angelolli Asks Pearl Bhasin

It was the wraparound necklaces that first won me over about a year ago; I bought two of them at Lush Icon, a boutique in Bangsar Village II, Kuala Lumpur. Then I decided to approach the designer of these artistic pieces that have an old-worlde charm about them, while at the same time are totally modern and wearable.

Singaporean Pearl Bhasin is the brainchild behind Maya & Ruhi, a collection of inspiring jewelry. She named the line after her two daughters, whom she refers to as Those Two. I first wrote about Pearl when I interviewed her for The Star, Malaysia, so it was apt that I feature her in this column about creative souls who absolutely inspire!

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Pearl Bhasin and I am a work-at-home-mom, jewelry designer and artisan. Every single day, I juggle being at home with the kids, designing and crafting jewelry, doing the business administration of stuff, and blog (a bit).

Why did you decide to live the creative life?
It's the only life I know. I have always been creative...drawing when I was a kid, writing when I was in my teens, until a successful stint at Young and Rubicam, the advertising agency. Then the kids came along, and I decided that a career in advertising would seriously deprive my kids of a fully-attentive mother. (I am not so much the multi-tasker, you see. Work-out-of-home mothers never cease to amaze me.)

So when Maya was born, I took to writing freelance, which was pretty lucrative, because I just won an advertising award before handing in my resignation. And then when Ruhi came along five years later, I wanted a change. So I dabbled a bit in painting and jewelry-making. I love the creative life because I am basically crap at everything else...really!

How did you start off working with jewelry?
I have to credit my mother-in-law for educating and exposing me to jewelry art. She's Punjabi and we all know the Mughals' legendary obsession with bling. It's as if it's in their blood. Her stash is filled with ultra-traditional stuff (a staple, of course), Art Deco pieces given to her by her mother and mother-in-law, and contemporary pieces from the 70s, her heyday. I immediately was enthralled by the art of it all.

What are your idiot-proof tips for working with jewelry?
I always tell Maya, who is getting old enough to want to explore jewelry-making, that you have to be "one with the wire". It's just about understanding the nature of wire, how it twists and turns, how it might know, how it might snap, how it might hold. Then you can make it do what you want. If not, there's always YouTube.

For inspiration, you have to be a sponge about everything. I am a sucker for art references and I spend a small fortune on fashion, art and yoga magazines every month. There are magazines and books by the bed, in the toilet, on my worktable...they're just EVERYWHERE!

What were some of the best advice anyone ever gave you?
I think some of the best advice that I ever got are from reading self-help books and from my spiritual studies. I think the best advice ever for me is "You can't afford the luxury of a negative thought", and it's actually the title of the book by John-Roger and Peter McWilliams.

What is on your current lust list?
I don't very often lust so much after things. I am pretty low maintenance. In fact, if you saw me, you wouldn't think I was a jewelry designer. It's the no-makeup, vintage T-shirt, Marks & Spencers shorts and Birkies.

BUT, I'd SO like a designated room where I can clock in and clock out, so that I can have stretches of time to concentrate. Right now, my worktable (formerly the dining table) is smack in the middle of everything and everyone. Not so conducive for any type of work, creative or administrative. Until everyone is asleep.

What would you like to see more of in the world?
More work-at-home moms! I swear the world would be a better place.

Who inspires you?
Many people inspire me. My mother, for examples of true grit. My father, for the intricacies for how to chill out. My husband, for lessons on de-cluttering. My kids, for an innocent take on the world. That's in the real world. In the artistic world, Gustav Klimt, Frida Kahlo, Shakespeare, Marc Jacobs, John Singer Sargent, Vivienne Westwood, Claude Monet, DH Lawrence, Paul Cezanne, Gerald Durrell, Liu Kang...there's too many, really.

What are you making now?
Right now I am making two custom projects as well as my new collection for Kuala Lumpur.

Three-strand faceted smoky quartz with coral.


The ever popular Chic & Unique earrings, this one with hydrothermal quartz.


Another signature piece, the wraparound necklace with blue resin, pink aventurine and pink agate.

(Ed's note: Pearl recently started doing collections for Kuala Lumpur, which is sold at Lush Icon. She centres her collections around her artistic inspirations. Her previous two collections were inspired by Tamara de Lempicka and Claude Monet's garden. The next collection, which is due out in April, is based on Frida Kahlo, and you, my dear readers are the first to know about it!)

Which creative souls blow your mind away?
Creative souls who blow my mind: dead, William Shakespeare; living, Karl Lagerfeld.

Pearl sells her jewelry on Etsy, as well as Nuroots and Collette in Singapore and Lush Icon, Robinson's and Isetan's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Hang out with her on her blog http://www.mayaruhi.blogspot.com/ and be totally inspired.

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