Contemporary Filigree

Starts with creativity

Portugal’s traditions are being reconstructed by Liliana into contemporary soulful art. The magic lies in the way Liliana takes traditional jewellery-making approaches and reimagines them for today’s world. Nowhere is this more apparent than in her filigree work. While filigree craftsmanship has been passed down many generations, Liliana has revitalised this art by using it in a completely new way to create new modern designs. The designer uses human craft skills acquired through generations, and works in an inclusive way supporting local craftsmen and their communities, to slowly bring each new piece of her highly contemporary jewellery to life.

Handling the metal

It all start with the preparation of the rough metal by melting it for later recomposition, when it turns into a contemporary and unique creation. Once melted, the metal is poured into an iron utensil called ingot mould - as soon as the metal cools and takes on its cylindrical strength, it will be ready to be handled.

Filigree art has a few techniques which will result in different shapes and designs - the word Filigree means filum (thread) and granum (grain), the combination of these two elements is the foundation of this art. Filum (thread) process: consists in inserting the metal into a manual machine that will gradually decrease the thickness of the metal. From that on, the metal will be flexible to work by hands.

A four hand job

Once the thread is thick enough, two threads of equal length are then united and twisted with the help of a soft piece of wood. One person twists the threads while a second person stretches the single thread that will form with the process.

It is then placed in the drawing die cart – an orifice lined in diamonds to prevent wear and tear and maintain the original diameter. Each time the thread passes through the different areas, it becomes finer and finer until reaching the desired thickness. To finally start making the jewel, first step is to create the structure to be filled with the finished threads relying solely on the dexterity of the goldsmith or the “Filler”. Filling is the best-known stage of the entire process, showing the knowledge of the artisan.

Perfect balance

By creating a design with the threads or even other techniques, in order to put all the little elements together it needs to be welded. Soldering is a delicate part of the manual process, seeking the perfect balance. If applied in excess it conceals the filigree wires and fills in spaces that should be empty, damaging the “filling” work. If it is not applied in sufficient quantity or at the right temperature, it will irreversibly damage the solidity of the piece;

Finishing touches

The last step the jewellery finishing.. Cleaning and polishing. Removing all signs of oxidation and dirt caused by soldering, as well as all acids used in the washes to which it was subjected. At the end the piece will be polished to bring out the metal’s natural brilliance, and then dried. By creating a handmade piece, the outcome will be that each piece will have a truly uniqueness.