She stood and carefully lifted the tiny pieces of toquilla into place in the silver circles, she continued working oblivious of those around her who were quietly watching her as before their eyes one of her stunning necklaces was created.
Isabel Lopez is proud of her designs and the techniques she uses in her work as she is proud of her Ecuadorian heritage, her country's culture and the fact that her inspiration comes from her environment. Isabel has loved jewellery since she was a young girl and watched the jewellers near her family home at work in their workshops. She remembers being fascinated how pieces of metal and semi-precious stones were delicately worked into beautiful pieces of jewellery. On leaving school, she trained in architecture at the university in nearby Cuenca (Ecuador). One day, she was walking down the street when for no reason she found herself drawn to a small workshop that she had passed many times before. She stepped inside and found artisans busy creating jewellery with precious methods and watched spellbound as they experimented with different techniques. She soon began visiting regularly and before long she was sat at the workbench creating her own first pieces of jewellery.
Isabel found herself thinking more and more about design and techniques and proud of her Ecuadorian heritage, she found herself drawn to rediscover the Azuaya traditions and the use of toquilla straw and to learn about the culture of the indigenous Ca?ari people in Ecuador. She was totally enchanted by the lightness of their jewellery and especially the use of 'filigrana' - filigree work- and found herself incorporating their ideas in her own styles of jewellery, feeling it important to keep their traditions alive
She spent many hours painstakingly creating pieces of jewellery using the finest filigree silver work. She experimented further and found that incorporating small pieces of toquilla straw (that she recycles from old Panama hats and dyes in jewel bright colours) that she was able to create some stunning necklaces that portrayed her character and her country's heritage perfectly – combining both cultural and environmental value. Isabel's work was soon recognised by UNESCO who awarded her a Seal of Excellence (2013) for her work which is a prestigious symbol of recognition of her true craftsmanship....