Sum & Substance: Yuka Saito

Sum & Substance: Yuka Saito

Yuka Saito Luminous Mist

Luminous Mist, 2010, polypropylene, acrylic, stainless steel, 3.5 x 3 x 2 in.; Photo: Elizabeth Waugh

For Yuka Saito, making is a relationship – with her materials. “Many jewelry artists are using plastics in their work today,” says Emily Stoehrer, “but Saito’s work stands out for its gracefulness and brilliant use of color.”

How she got started: I have been into making objects since childhood. As I got older and was wondering what career to pursue, I met Fumiko Tsubo, and I showed her what I was making with wood and plastic. She said, “This can be interesting jewelry as well.” And this changed my whole perception of jewelry. I began to focus from that moment on jewelry – first with traditional methods and then later with more experimental and non-traditional materials and methods.

Her training: I graduated from Tezukayama Gakuin University in Osaka, Japan, in liberal arts and received a museum curator license. This experience gave me a strong background in art and art theory. Following this, I studied studio jewelry under Ms. Tsubo at Atelier Dome in Osaka for five years, before moving to New York to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology. It was great for me to gain various skills for making precious jewelry; knowing those techniques helps me a lot, even when I use unusual materials.

Her biggest challenge: I have to live and struggle with new materials for a long time before we are able to communicate with each other. I make and remake over and over again until we are speaking the same language.

Why she makes jewelry: The same piece can look different depending on the wearer’s body structure. So I tend to make pieces that have movable parts, or pieces that appear to move, to enhance the wearer’s characteristic movements.