An industrial complex would probably be the last place to expect an artisanal atelier, but that is where Elaine has set up her cosy workspace, cutely adorned with all things cats. In a space named after her pet cat Alfie, she experiments with mixed media for her sustainable jewellery label Amado Gudek. Using only eco-friendly bioresins and other natural materials, she promises to deliver imaginative jewellery cast in clear conscience.
On a mission to make full use of our handcrafted artisanal fabric, MATTER collaborated with Elaine to create a series of necklaces that breathes new life into offcut fabrics, which would have otherwise gone to waste. From selecting the most suitable materials, creating the mould, to the final stringing of the necklace together, Elaine has painstakingly handcrafted each piece with love.
Tell us more about your journey with Amado Gudek.
I have always dabbled in jewellery since young, so it was quite a natural progression for me. While I have been making jewellery for around 10 years now, my interest in using resin as my main medium was sparked at a jewellery course in Central St Martins during the summer of 2010. I did metal smithing before, but never found it as intriguing as working with bioresin, because metal is limited in its colours, textures and opacity. Bioresin is much more versatile as it works well with other materials as well.
Amado Gudek was born out of a time when I had just returned to Singapore after completing my master’s degree, and the spirit of London was still fresh in my mind. I named the brand after the last names of two of my best friends from school to remind myself of my time and experience in London, so the brand carries a lot of nostalgia and is personally meaningful.
Were there any doubts you had starting this brand?
Amado Gudek started out as a hobby while I still had a full-time job in branding and retail operations. As it was just a side gig, I was pretty fearless and did not have much doubts. My first job was in retail operations for a local fashion company, after which I worked in a branding agency, and then moved on to in-house branding for a local tea company, where I worked on strategy, product development, packaging design and retail operations (one-man show yo).
However, doubts were not uncommon as Amado Gudek evolved into a full-time business. Because bioresin jewellery is very niche, it is not easily introduced to the mainstream crowd. To keep the business going, I created other brands that cater to other different market segments as well.
What has been your best moment?
Not too long ago, Senior Minister of State Ms Indranee Rajah commissioned me to design a set of jewellery for her. This is an important milestone because I am not in the fine jewellery category, and being able to garner support and appreciation for the artistic value of non-precious bioresin jewellery from a public figure like her is extremely encouraging. I like working with her as she gives me a lot of breadth to work creatively. In fact, I am now designing a second set of jewellery for her.
Working with Ms Indranee inspired me to delve more into personalisation, to meet with customers and create pieces embodying their individual styles. I recently closed my online store and currently sell my premade collections only through stockists to give myself more time to focus on R&D and custom-made jewellery.
How much work goes into a necklace?
It really depends. Once I have an idea in mind, I would experiment with it to see if it works. The piece is only complete if the emotions I aim to create is conveyed adequately. As I am quite particular about the perfection of a piece, it may take up to 20 rounds of experimentation before I get what I want. Occasionally, almost 50 colourways would have be cast before only a few colours make the cut for the collection. Also, it is very important that the piece sits well with the rest of the collection. Sometimes a few pieces may work well on their own, but are not yet strong enough to make a collection – in this case the entire project would be abandoned. This research and development process is the longest part of the production and can take a month to as long as a year, depending on the extent of successes and failures.
Once I figure out a way to make the idea work, however, the process can then be repeated for production quite smoothly. Each piece takes about 3 to 5 days to make.
What is your dream collaboration?
It would be really cool if I could work with recycling companies to create jewellery from recycled waste. I want to be more involved in sustainable and green communities. I have used artisanal wooden beads and vegetable-tanned leather in the necklace collection for MATTER, but that is only a very small step towards environmental-friendliness. As such, I have started learning about recycled plastics and look forward to experimenting with ways to incorporate it into my work.
Favourite jewellery brands that aren’t yours?
I am a huge fan of Marni’s jewellery. The brand is about the strength and resilience of a woman, not simply sexualised glamour and fame. I especially adore their bold statement pieces.
Another iconoclastic brand I love is Mason Martin Margiela. Their accessories resonate well with my personal vision of what a jewellery collection should be.