We stumbled into artist and jewelry designer Sara Amrhein‘s beautiful Florence studio during a neighborhood stroll, and were immediately drawn in by her store’s vibrant colors, vivacious décor, and uplifting atmosphere – a simply enchanting space.
No stranger to travel and adaptation, Sara was born in New York, raised in Los Angeles, and is currently based in Florence, Italy. She has always been interested in exploring new places and experimenting with new ideas and techniques. Her travel influences are evident in her work, pulling inspiration from global culture, travel and other artists.
Sara is building her reputation as a Florence artist to watch, recently opening her studio atelier in Florence and co-founding a passion project called the Creative People in Florence – an artists group that organizes activities for artists living and working in the gorgeous historical art center of Florence.
Sara’s jewelry creations are beautifully brilliant, made for free spirited souls that love to travel and explore. Read our interview with Sara below for more about her artistic influencers (and how naming her cat came as a result), and her most unconventional artist’s tool that she can’t live without.
CULT: Tell us more about yourself – when and how did you begin jewelry making?
Sara: Jewelry making came about in two different sections. I started making jewelry just for fun after I graduated from High School. I would make little necklaces and bracelets for my friends and family. Then I stopped for a while and when to art school where I studied painting. I would do a lot of collages and paintings where I added things such as beads, jewels and various papers. Lots of crafty stuff. Then it evolved from there. So when I was painting after I graduated and when I moved back to Florence after that, I didn’t really have a place to paint so I started looking for other ways to make art and I found the polymer clay. Which is the main material that I use. I played with that a little bit, making floral and from there it evolved and I started thinking more about the human body. I started thinking about the jewelry that I’ve been making in the past, being inspired by fashion. I always loved fashion, so the two things kind of came together for me.
CULT: What is your process like, from conception to completion?
Sara: I do sketch. I keep a notebook with me, I sketchbook all the time. I make little drawings and then I usually sit at my table and I start playing with the clay with some of the ideas that I had in mind from the sketches.
But then things really start to evolve and change and it’s really uncommon that the finished piece ends up looking like the sketch.
A lot of times I start making pieces, flowers or leaves whatever it may be and then I cure them in the oven for them to harden and I play around with them by placing them together and decide how I want the piece of jewelry to look.
CULT: What do you love about living and working in Florence, Italy? Favorite local haunts and hideaways?
Sara: One of the things that I love about living in Florence is just the fact that I’m so close to everything and that I can walk outside and I have the Piazza right down the street and I can walk right in the center of the city. There’s always something going on, and of course, the art that’s everywhere is always inspiring to me. There’s so much fashion everywhere.
In the spring-time I love going to the iris and rose gardens by Piazza Michelangelo when everything is blooming. I’m always looking at flowers… Can’t ever get enough of them.
CULT: The one artist tool you can’t live without:
Sara: It’s not a very traditional artist tool…but it’s my pasta machine. My pasta machine is what I use to roll the clay through it so I get even flat sheets and it makes it a lot easier for me to cut. So I have an even thickness. It’s so Italian haha … My number one tool.
CULT: In the past 24 hours, what has inspired you?
Sara: In the past 24 hours..I came into my studio and started sowing together this paper garland. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet, but I’ll probably hang it from the ceiling. I like paper and patterns and mixing these two together. Also, my mom inspired me last night when I was on the phone with her. She always gives me great ideas and she has always been very active in my creative life and she’s always been very creative herself. So whenever I have a creative block I can talk to her and she gets me going again.
CULT: Three things on your bucket-list:
1.Get at least one boutique in London, New York, and Paris to carry my designs.
2. Start running again – I trained for and ran a half marathon two years ago and haven’t run since. I miss it but since opening my new studio I am still trying to manage my time well enough so that I can start running again. I always feel better and am more creative when I exercise.
3. I’ve had ideas and designs for a line of leather handbags and clutches for ages, I am finally beginning to work on them and would like to have them ready to launch in time for the holidays this year.
CULT: Describe your workspace – what do you love most about it?
Sara: Basically I love that it’s big and I love that I have room to spread out because before I had this space I lived in a very tiny apartment where I lived and worked at the same time. It wasn’t really working out for me. I love the transformation because this used to be my husbands garage and old warehouse where he kept all his construction tools and we had to completely restore the entire space. I love that it came form that and the whole process was very inspiring to me. It’s great that I can have a space where I can work and display my stuff and I can have people come into the space and it’s comfortable. I always loved to be able to have people come into my studio.
CULT: What are some artists that inspire you most?
Sara: My absolute all time favorite is Claude Monet. Just because of his use of colors and flowers. His feminine, crafty elements he has to his work inspire me the most. Can’t get enough. He has a quote that I absolutely love,
“that I must have flowers always and always.”
And then of course Michelangelo to take a Florentine… that’s really what made me fall in love with Florence. I also named my cat after him.
CULT: What is your favorite jewelry piece that you own?
Sara: I have a pair of Angela Caputi earrings who is also one of my greatest inspirations. My mom bought me a pair of her earrings couple years ago and they’re my most prized possession.
CULT: Words to live by:
Sara: You just have to do what you do, and be yourself. Even if people try to tell you that you can’t – you can, and you have to.
I found that if you try doing anything else then what you love to do, you’re just never going to be truly happy.