Interviews

Mexico

Eric Silva: Instinct


Eric Silva
Eric Silva, Untitled, 2014, bracelet, titanium, shed deer antler, 63.5 x 177.8 mm diameter, photo: Shana Crawford

Susan Cummins: The name Silva has Portuguese origins. Is that your background? Can you describe where you grew up and a little about your family history?

Eric Silva: No, I am Mexican. I am third generation born in California. I grew up in Norwalk, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. I was raised by a single mother and I have one younger brother. I came from a family of carpenters.

When did you know you wanted to be a jeweler?

Eric Silva: Being a jeweler isnʼt something that I planned to be or do. What I was most interested in was carving small objects. Because of the scale that I enjoyed working in, it seemed most appropriate to turn them into wearable items.

 

Eric Silva
Eric Silva, Untitled, 2014, bracelet, titanium, shed deer antler, 63.5 x 177.8 mm diameter, photo: Shana Crawford

Susan Cummins: The name Silva has Portuguese origins. Is that your background? Can you describe where you grew up and a little about your family history?

Eric Silva: No, I am Mexican. I am third generation born in California. I grew up in Norwalk, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. I was raised by a single mother and I have one younger brother. I came from a family of carpenters.

When did you know you wanted to be a jeweler?

Eric Silva: Being a jeweler isnʼt something that I planned to be or do. What I was most interested in was carving small objects. Because of the scale that I enjoyed working in, it seemed most appropriate to turn them into wearable items.

 

Eric Silva
Eric Silva, Untitled, 2013, bracelet, titanium, fossil ivory, 25.4 x 203.2 mm diameter, photo: Shana Crawford

What person, books, or videos have been most important to you in developing your work?

Eric Silva: I didn’t pay much attention to books and videos. I would only look to books to learn a skill I wanted to acquire. There wasnʼt a particular person that influenced my work, but I was always open to suggestions. The person who had the most impact on me was my grandfather. He never had a problem making a tool that he needed or lending me a tool that I didnʼt have. He used to tell me, “You can make anything you want as long as you are willing to give up the time.” Those comments always helped me when I was working on something that wasnʼt coming together. 

Eric Silva
Eric Silva, Untitled, 2014, necklace, sterling silver, shed deer antler, labradorite, 508 mm long, photo: Shana Crawford

Eric Silva: Not necessarily. I think of these things more as something you would find at a flea market or swap meet and ask yourself, what is this? How can I use this? Antler and fossil ivory were chosen more for their carving properties. When I first started carving, I was carving gemstones, which were really tough. So when I found fossil ivory, carving it was such an easy task.

I also understand that you use herbs, teas, and coffees as natural dyes. Again, this reminds me of the self-sufficiency of the Wild West. How does this process work for you?

Eric Silva: I used old coffee grounds and strong teas as a way to expose more details in my carvings.

Do you know how your jewelry affects the people who buy it? Has anyone told you a story about his or her relationship with a piece you made?

Eric Silva
Eric Silva, Untitled, 2014, necklace, sterling silver, shed deer antler, calcification puddle, chrysoprase, 558.8 mm long, photo: Shana Crawford

Do you support yourself making and selling jewelry? What has worked and what hasnʼt worked for your business?

Eric Silva: Yes, I support my wife and four children. I found that I have to diversify my business, from gallery work to retail and production. I think it important to have your foot in many doors.

What do you do when you aren’t making jewelry?

Surfing—I surf every morning when Iʼm not out of town. I also love searching for great finds at flea markets, swap meets, and local thrift stores. I call myself somewhat of a collector.

Thank you.

Eric Silva
Eric Silva, Untitled, 2014, necklace, sterling silver, labradorite, shed deer antler, 457.2 mm long, photo: Shana Crawford

Author

  • Susan Cummins has been involved in numerous ways in the visual arts world over the last 35 years, from working in a pottery studio, doing street fairs, running a retail shop called the Firework in Mill Valley and developing the Susan Cummins Gallery into a nationally recognized venue for regional art and contemporary art jewelry. Now she spends most of her time working with a private family foundation called Rotasa and as a board member of AJF and California College of the Arts.

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