Katherine-Mary Pichulik crafts bold and colourful necklaces and bracelets from rope, gold and silver threads and beads all manufactured close to her studio, and her work showcases a beautifully African style.
South African Fine Arts graduate Katherine-Mary trained as an artist and patissier before founding Pichulik in 2012. Her interest in jewellery design was sparked whilst travelling through India where she saw women in the Rajasthan crafting tribal jewellery from woven materials and textiles. On her return to Cape Town she started experimenting with materials; strangers stopped her in the street to admire her work; a friend took some photos and three months later Pichulik was featured in Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.
Pichulik reimagines ancient sacred feminine wisdom for a modern woman, using unusual materials such as jade, shell, horn and hemp in a powerful mix of urban design, traditional craftsmanship and the vibrant colours of Africa. More recently, Katherine-Mary has been directly inspired by the African soil at her family farm in the Groot Marico district. “The soil there is blood red. It seeps into your shoes and the facades of the buildings, and houses are made from it – I really love that”. This plays out in her use of local stone and rock, materials readily available to her, and that she integrates into her designs in unusual ways.
A friend’s father, owner of Rope World – a supplier to the yacht and sailing industry – introduced her to rope, suggesting she “play around with it”. She was instantly hooked on it as a medium, and the company provides her with rope to this day.
She weaves the rope, an inexpensive commonplace material, into her designs, complementing it with South African gold and silver thread, Ghanian agate stone, Nigerian and Moroccan beads, West African brass parts and Ethiopian recycled glass; elevating it into something precious and desirable. Traditionally used to restrict, rope now liberates, reflecting the brand’s vision to create "bold jewellery for brave women".
Sourcing her materials from all over Africa, Katherine-Mary works with a small number of merchants, with whom she has an informal relationship “(The supplier and I) might arrive at, say, a random warehouse in Johannesburg, go through three or four doors, to explore a room filled with precious objects - an incredibly multifaceted, ambidextrous way of doing business” she says.
Katherine-Mary’s creative process is instinctive. An area of interest fires a period of research followed by experimentation with materials. The materials then guide the process to production when a small team of women based in Woodstock, Cape Town, craft by hand.
Pichulik’s pieces tell fascinating stories, and are a minimalist take on the tribal, African aesthetic.