Julia Maria Künnap graduated in 2004 from the Estonian Academy of Arts, Jewellery Art Department under Prof Kadri Mälk. Before this she studied at Konstfack, Stockholm and in 2006 was the Artist in Residence at Alchimia School of Contemporary Jewellery in Florence. She has exhibited in various group exhibitions throughout Europe and in 2013 presented her first solo exhibition in the Emerging Artist Platform at Sienna Patti.
I am inspired by imperfection. It is a strong source of motivation. If I see a perfect thing—an artwork, a poem—I just breathe in and breathe out. It just comes and then goes. But if I see something that irritates me, I start analyzing. Why am I irritated? Why isn’t it perfect? Where is the ‘mistake’ made? Usually, once I have deconstructed the whole piece in my mind, I already have so many good ideas. In the end, these ideas don’t have much to do with the source of inspiration.
“..I usually don’t regard the equipment used for accomplishing my works as important enough to talk about separately, but questions that have arisen in connection with those fusible stones show that an explanation is needed. A dealer from Munich was convinced that I’m approaching the issue in a post-modernist fashion: I purchase a cut stone and melt it down by the corners – “the melting point of quartz is said to be quite low!” That is, for better or worse, impossible. There are no hat tricks, bamboozling or conjuring in making my work. All of the stones are cut from one piece of raw material without any glue or resin.
Working with this material in this way was as if I was stepping across some invisible doorstep. I had been told, stone cutting is an “entire science in itself” that demands “extremely great skills and experience”, as well as “very expensive equipment”. Additionally, I had a certain awe for a rare natural material such as large gemstone crystals – I didn’t want to grind them aimlessly into dust. Luckily, my art-academy education encouraged me: I nonetheless started searching for solutions to execute my idea, not for accommodating it or pouring it into a more simply- and quickly-workable material.
I derive from classic cuts when constructing my own, but I redo them according to my own style. I’ve used a step cut in the case of many stones: it is an older type of cut, which gives the stone a calmer and more static reflection, and it doesn’t shine in such a crazy way. The “Nobody’s Perfect” ametrine is cut using Standard Round Brilliant in principle, but I made it 9-fold instead of the usual 8-fold mirror-image symmetry – while something akin to a notched 8-pointed cross makes up (below) half of a standard brilliant pavilion, this stone’s design has nine branches.
My faceting workshop is located in my kitchen sink. The machine, with which I cut these stones fits onto an A4-size sheet of paper and costs less than the average Estonian’s holiday trip to a warm, sunny destination. I’ve gradually rebuilt and improved the machine according to my needs: for a faceted cut, it has a faceting head, with which I can hold the stone at the correct angle. For the most part, I cut the facet part first, and then cover the entire polished area with sealing wax for safety and carve end polish the flowing forms.
It’s quite pointless to talk about the amount of time spent working the stones. Raw crystal can be observed for a week or two, a couple of years, or a dozen before cutting. After the work is complete, there is always the feeling that it could have been done better; but I suppose that is merely the blink of an eye in comparison with the age of the stone itself.”