Edmundo de Marchena is forging a new style of jewelry. He goes back to the basics of ancient metalsmith to give his pieces a timeless and handcrafted feel. These classic techniques are inspired by old iron work, but MUNDI Jewelry is made with a confident, modern woman in mind.
Originally from Venezuela, Edmundo moved to New York and attended Parsons where he specialized in metalwork and jewelry. “It was in the late ’90s that I realized that I was doing sculpture for the body, so I thought why not just do sculpture. So I went into it head on, did that for ten years plus. I realized that I missed metals and the simplicity of jewelry. It’s different when working on a big scale sculpture and working on jewelry—a couple months versus a couple weeks.”
But now he has taken aspects of larger metal projects and brought them into the world of jewelry. Edmundo describes his work as “going back to very classic techniques. Everything I’m doing is forged. Forging is a lot of hammering. It’s the way that gates were fabricated for thousands of years. If you walk through San Francisco and look at old gates, it’s a lot of ironwork. That’s similar to my jewelry. Not cast or mechanically reproduced, but forged from scratch – riveted and joined with traditional techniques”
The San Francisco area is one of the larger inspirations for Edmundo’s jewelry. The old gates on the Victorian-style homes inspire his technique, and the natural green space in the city contributes to the design of his pieces. His inspiration comes form “the vegetable-flower world. Flowers have always come back into the design, and I try to replicate the way they are.” The culture of startups and the cottage industry here in the Bay Area has allowed MUNDI Jewelry to flourish as a small-scale production.
Most of his business is done by commission through his Etsy, so the pieces are usually specific to the person wearing them. Edmundo says that “it takes a woman of a certain confidence and a certain style” to wear his work. They are larger pieces, and he rarely repeats a design. There is not a huge production and output because the jewelry is not cast and assembled, but rather everything is handmade. Edmundo is currently looking to expand to New York and to outsource in Vietnam because of the complex and specific nature of his work.
Forging is an extremely work intensive process. A single piece of jewelry can take weeks to finish, and this hard work and energy is not lost in the jewelry. “The end result is rugged—you feel the hammer marks, and you can tell that it’s hand fabricated. I really like the forged aesthetic. There’s a warmth to it.”
MUNDI Jewelry absorbs the work put into making it. So much craftsmanship is lost in the jewelry world of today. A lot of the jewelry out there will have taken an hour to make. Edmundo’s work is not jewelry that comes off of a production line of some huge industry. It is small scale. It is labor intensive. It is rugged. And as with all elements, the metal he works with absorbs the energy he puts into it.
To view and purchase MUNDI Jewelry, go to its shop on Etsy.