"When a woman wears my jewelry she is reserved. When I wear it, I isolate myself, which I like. It must be a wonderful feeling for every woman, even if you’re beautifully made-up, to keep others at a distance through your jewelry - then people can see you.” - Ferdi, 1955
In 1952 Ferdi traded plaster for iron, picking up welding techniques from Tajiri and experimenting with compositions in metal and copper. In 1953 she began to create delicate wire sculptures with irregular joints, mirror frames, wrought iron fences, headgear with sharp protuberances and - most of all - pieces of jewelry fashioned from iron, copper, aluminium, nails and colored glass. “Iron is not always the obedient material upon which you can precisely impose your will. It sometimes has a mind of its own." (Ferdi 1956)
Ferdi began to produce forged and welded jewelry from iron wire, and was able to sell them to a number of admirers. ‘Bijoux en fer’, dusky bracelets, softly glimmering earrings, beautifully sinuous necklaces, anklets, rings and buckles. ‘Fer’ means iron, so Ferdi's own name was partly made up of the material she loved, and of which she was a passionate champion. American women were fascinated by the jewelry because it was exclusive. Japanese design jewelry stores also placed orders. Ferdi realized that the pendants and earrings were shaped like insects and intentionally began to use insects as a source of inspiration. She had a sharp eye for unusual detail: “What struck me was the incongruity of an insect - so symmetrical in appearance, but apparent discord of glands, nerves and storage cells. A chaos that functions perfectly, almost like a machine. It seems so fragile but, when magnified to human scale, is immensely strong. I have discovered that, as a material, iron possesses all these qualities.”
photo above: Ferdi welding at the Household Fair in the Rai, Amsterdam 1956
photo © Eddy Posthuma de Boer
text: M. Westen, Ferdi Hortisculpture,
TASHA BV, 2008.