In 2004, Felieke van der Leest spoke to a full room of attendees at SOFA Chicago about her whimsical work and the inspiration for it. This lecture was sponsored by AJF.
There is so much more to van der Leest’s work than meets the eye. ‘Actually the pieces I make are very simple,’ said Van der Leest. ‘You can immediately identify with them. I consciously choose to design jewelery that you don’t need a degree in art history to understand. For many people, artists are from another planet. I don’t come from an artistic family which explains, I think, my need to make accessible jewelery.’
Van der Leest gets her ideas from every day experiences. The only criteria is that the designs inspire the same kind of humor. ‘I make a sketch of every idea and if after looking at it twice, it isn’t funny anymore, I throw it away.’ In order to keep having ideas, it’s important to have a playful approach. For example she knits all her gifts.
Symbolism and memories are often what jewelery is about. And yet the symbolism Van der Leest uses is of a completely different kind. Her designs do not appeal to nostalgia or sentiment; they are about the comic lightness of being. Just the way they are made is funny already. Van der Leest doesn’t weld her work but knits and crochets it. She has a very elegant technique using the thinnest of threads and executing each piece perfectly. This makes them wonderful to look at, while also being, because of the subject matter – hilariously funny.