Meet Catherine Geilis
This year I got the best birthday present from my Mom and Cath. I gave Cath some ideas, a fast sketch and my mom gave her a string of tiny aqua marine beads (my birthstone). With very little input she created these wonderful magical fairy queen earrings in just a week. So when you come to stay in Guanajuato, stay long enough for her to make you a pair of earrings, a ring or a necklace. Cath has her own little shop down in the centro at Casa Quertro. She is "of Belgian origin, Catherine is an artist who with texture, fragrance and color, discovers the beauty of nature through her senses."
Catherine's Gallery can be found on a picturesque little street, Calle San José No. 4, near the Temple of the Company of Jesus in the city of Guanajuato.
Her hours are Monday through Saturday
from 11:00 to 15: 00 and 16:30 to 20:00 (11am-3pm and 4:30pm - 8pm)
Sunday from 11:00 to 16:00
Closed on Tuesdays
Catherine presents her work in a studio setting which offers visitors a place where they can view and appreciate her finished art, but at the same time, observe the manufacturing process of a jewel. You will find unique pieces, made mainly of silver, displayed in her GALLERY-WORKSHOP.
She was selected in the 40th edition of the International Cervantino Festival 2012, presenting the "Matches and Mismatches" installation at the Museum Jose and Tomas Chavez Morado of Silao.
Catherine Gielis, was born in Belgium, and received her artistic training at IATA des Arts Institute in Namur, Brussels, Sainte Marie Institute, and Institute des Arts et Metiers in Brussels and apprenticed in other shops, such as Emile Souply.
Working outside the boundaries of traditional jewelry techniques, her designs are often inspired by and arise from a gem. It is directed, from a simple, universal art, to the present; a contemporary statement in an original creation. Catherine, is an artist who fixes her gaze on nature. She is inspired to create organic designs which characterize her work, Catherine allows you to see every detail of the often invisible natural world that surrounds us.
With an exquisite touch, Catherine works directly in the metal, using a hammer and various types of chisels to achieve different textures; some roughened, others velvety or smooth, forming designs representing delicate plants, or the leaves and seeds of trees. She especially loves the Jacaranda seed. So much so, that since discovering it’s beauty here in Mexico, it has become the iconic focus of her art, evolving into her signature concept of sculptural jewelry.
Catherine feels it is important to be aware of everything around us. "It's nice to fix your gaze on something simple in nature and discover how beautiful it is; either by its shape, its color, its smell, or its perfection. We are surrounded by this beauty and then do not see it."
The magic of the spiral, represented in the shells of snails, is also characteristic of her work. For Catherine, as for many ancient cultures, the spiral represents the infinite; the progressive transformation. Therefore, it is not surprising to discover Catherine always at her bench, transforming silver, manifesting something beautiful.
An element of great importance to Catherine in creating a work, is the process itself. She chooses to use silver that has been reclaimed, after a very complex process, from electronic devices, and the medical and chemical industries. “This process produces 950 Certified Silver, which is purer than sterling silver,” she says. Aware of the over production and misuse of natural resources, such as the devastating extraction of silver in the mining industry that was once the primary industry in Guanajuato, Catherine argues that unless we change our habits and our way of consumption we will not stop the depletion of those precious resources. In addition, every scrap of silver left on her bench from previous cuts is collected and recycled through the same refining process applied to metals reclaimed from devices such as cameras and mobile phones.
The casting of silver to create a sculptural piece is an art. Here we present a series of photographs of Catherine Gielis at work.
To prepare the silver, Catherine begins by carefully heating a mold into which she will pour molten silver. This is an important step to insure a clean, quality ingot. The reclaimed silver is placed in a high-heat resistant porcelain crucible where it is brought to a molten state. It is then poured into the heated mold and allowed to cool. This process takes a few minutes, but it requires great concentration by the artist. When the metal is liquid and presents a particular red-silver color, it must be poured quickly into the mold. In seconds, as it cools, it forms a silver ingot of high quality. It is placed in a bath of special salts that bleach any discoloration caused by heating the metal. With her commitment to the environment, Catherine does not use sulfuric acid in the cleaning process.
When the metal is clean and bright, it can then be put through a rolling mill or a pierced steel plate to create thin sheets of silver or silver wire used in the construction of her jewelry. It is passed through the mill many times until the shape and thickness of the metal is appropriate for the design. If necessary, the metal can be hammered throughout the process to define the shape desired.
Finally, after this long process of recovering silver, casting an ingot, and preparing the metal, Catherine begins the work of cutting, texturing, polishing, and assembling the delicate pieces which make up her sculptural works of art. She incorporates ancient techniques such as Repousse, the art of raising metal from the reverse side to create dimension and form in sheet metal, using a hammer and steel tools of various shapes, to create graceful, contemporary representations of nature’s beauty.
Thank you Cath for providing such lovely text and for new lively sculptures on my ears
Sara•Tink Mapelli, Theodore Holdt and Liz Mapelli are artists who enjoy the fine art of creating special long term and short term rental spaces in Guanajuato, Mexico. They have been traveling the world for many years and have many tales to share. They all love to spend time in their studios painting and printmaking and dancing with honey bees. At the end of long day of creation they cook fabulous meals. Links to their incredible rentals: The Golden Bee