Expat circles here in Tokyo are all abuzz about a new jewelry artist named Lynn Cooper and her line of handmade silver charms, as are her growing base of Etsy customers too. Kanoa Pure Silver, romantically named after the Hawaiian word for wanderer, is the name of her new company and fast becoming the sayonara gift of choice!
Cooper makes all her charms by hand using gin nendo, a malleable silver clay, and her techniques include hand hammering and texturing, stamping and carving. Each and every piece is physically individual, even when using the same stamp, as the hand work creates slight variations. She burnishes them to have an aged glow, with oxidation left in the crevices, giving them a feeling of age.
Her goal is not only to make fine jewelry, but to create a talisman for each wearer. So in that sense each grouping is emotionally different – perhaps representing the shared experience of a gift giver, the memory of an adventure or a connection to a culture different from one’s own.
Before we launch into all her lovely work, I must show you her ship-shape (no pun intended!) colorful work space. She has all the tools of her trade at hands reach, displayed with other sentimental objects. And look how she has chosen to use her vintage enameled laundry hanger – part lamp shade, part display rack.
The kamon stamps are the same vintage ones spied at the Setagaya Boro-ichi. And talk about re-purposing! The black cubbies are actually the old telephone cubby holders from the American Embassy that she spray painted and lined with washi paper. Reminds me of another great display case I have written about before.
Cooper uses the kamon stamps to make her larger charms which can stand alone on a chain or cord.
Her other technique involves hand carving her own blocks, often including a kanji, in this case tomodachi – the word for friend – on a cherry blossom. She adds vintage beads sourced from shrine sales and other semi-precious stones too.
Nostalgic images, an onigiri (rice ball) and Mt. Fuji, are also popular.
I just love the little stone lantern and teapot on this grouping. Customers can mix and match their own charms and beads and she can even custom carve (when she isn’t crazy busy) a specific image. She’s not limited to Japanese icons either!
Here’s my own little cute grouping – those who know me well will not be at all surprised about the accent beading color!
And last night I got this charm – another one featuring the tomodachi kanji- from a friend to add to my collection. You can really see the woodblock-like carving on these kanji charms.
Lynn’s packaging for gifts is also just adorable, she has such an eye for colors – like the card above using two contrasting traditional Japanese patterns, or her standard gift box, shown below.
And if you think only ladies can get in the fun, think again! With Father’s Day coming up, she also has gifts for men, like these fun cufflinks. Inspired by everything from katagami to woodblock prints, they allow your menfolk to wear their hearts on their sleeves.