Jewelry designer Lisa Cottone blends art with science and gets beautiful results. Find out more about her work by visiting her website.
I am a scientist and an artist. Though these two professions may seem disparate, I’ve created a harmony between them through the medium of silver crochet, which helped me to find my niche as a scientific artist.
I first learned to crochet when my grandmother molded my hands around a crochet hook and a strand of yarn when I was five, but my journey to crocheting wearable art took a detour through academia. In my 20s, I immersed myself in the study of neural networks during sleep and dream states, earning a PhD from Stony Brook University. I subsequently moved on to work in a high-tech neuroimaging laboratory that offered me stunning glimpses of brain networks in action: not just during sleep, but during waking emotional states. I loved what I was doing, but something was missing…
As I became increasingly saturated with a scientific understanding of nature, my inner artist was screaming out to express the beauty of my observations; and when I serendipitously stumbled upon an opportunity to learn metal crochet from skilled artisan, Joan Dulla, the scientific artist within me was ready to hatch. I knew then that I could weave together all of the disparate parts of my life: science and art; rationalism and creativity; and a familiar technique with new materials.
What inspires you?
The source of my inspiration is the song of nature – a song with recurring melodies and patterns in which each bar of music is both a part and a whole – a microcosm and a macrocosm. The parts of the song that I have come to know best were revealed to me through my study of neuroscience. I continue to learn more about nature and about myself as my hands subconsciously express the integration of all of my influences and observations in harmony.
How is crocheting with metal different from crocheting with yarn?
Crocheting with metal is very different from crocheting with yarn, and I even had to unlearn some of my yarn crochet habits in order to work with metal. The motion of the hook is different, and unlike yarn, the silver wire I use is unforgiving. But once I learned the technique and started experimenting and adapting the stitches and patterns to express what was in my imagination, I discovered the possibilities to be endless.
What challenges have you faced?
While establishing my own style in silver crochet, I spent considerable time developing new metal-friendly crochet patterns that look delicate, but are structurally durable. This was the most difficult challenge that I’ve had to overcome thus far, but in doing so I believe I’ve created jewelry that is truly unique. In fact, customers always seem stunned when I give a hard tug on my crocheted rope necklace, demonstrating the strength of my work.
What are your goals?
My main goal is to maintain the delicate balance points that define me and my work – between the two hemispheres of my brain; my creative and intellectual musings; and the yin and yang of my spirit. I also hope to continue stimulating the senses and imagination of others through my jewelry. I realize that many people are fascinated with my jewelry purely for its aesthetic value, but I get really excited when people recognize the hidden meaning in its structure and its ancestry in neuroscience.
What are you working on now?
Currently, I’m working on a collection that speaks of love and intimacy on many levels, from the neuronal to the social to the spiritual. In addition to the form representing the neural underpinnings of love, I want the jewelry to evoke love in the wearer. At the very least, designing the collection has evoked love in me and has spread to those around me.