I am a hunter of unique and unusual things that thrive in the shadows. Most days, I retreat from my hunt unsatisfied. But there are times when I happen across something so wonderfully out of the ordinary that I pull my shoulders back and howl. It was handmade jewellery business Black Insignia that I stumbled across the other week, and I’m fucking delighted that I did, because I’ve been provided with not only one of the best interviews that I’ve featured on Wyrd Words & Effigies, but one of the best, most insightful interviews I’ve ever read.
Can you please outline what Black Insignia is, and the sorts of goods it provides?
Black Insignia is handmade jewellery/ornaments inspired on the Occult, Mysticism, Memento Mori, Ritualistic Symbols and Nature. The main focus is in the brooches/pins that go from Black Metal related to Death, Occult and Nature, where I can use my photography to create tiny framed wearable photos. It can also be found earrings, locket necklaces, pendants and rings.
When did your fascination with the occult begin, and how does your interest infiltrate your daily life?
I was born in autumn, December along the 80’s. If the place, time, epoch, etc… influences who you are so I can say this was embedded in me since my first breath.
Through many ways the passion towards the Occult has grown… Cinema, Literature, Music, History, Mythology, Religion, Post-mortem photography… and that’s how it’s still present on my daily life.
It would appear that you are enamoured by the passing of time. Can you talk about the relationship you have with death, and why it plays such a prominent role within your work?
I’m intensely nostalgic and I have this silly attempt to make everything last a little bit more than these bones and mind… Nonetheless, the passing of time is a love-hate relationship for me…
More than 12 years ago I had the blessing of reading “Loucura” by Mário de Sá-Carneiro, that approach this topic in a speechless way, and this feeling suddenly became a strong living thing in me. I also got in touch with one poem of Cesário Verde stated on the narrative “Ironias do Desgosto”, that I didn’t know until then. The beauty of it is the irreversible truth that everything that we love is going to get old, to get ill, to die/disappear/vanish, it will become dust. I think it was one of the main influences on me to become more passionate about everything, along with that to give more importance to the simple things in life… with that you can understand the fragility and the mortality of everything. By accepting Death as a part of Life and as something that all of us are going reach you are able to construct mind peace. It’s beautiful and sad at the same time… so… I’m in love with it… well… I’m tragically romantic, even if you could not say that, but I blame Literature for it.
The brooches you create are stunning and imaginative. Can you please talk about the process you go through to create them?
The hard work part is the inspirational one. You never have a control on it; even so you can have discipline. The practical part is just going from a step to another.
It is important to you that the pieces you make aren’t massively reproduced. Can you please talk about the reason you prefer to make only a few pieces of the same item?
It’s a way of respecting people. Every human being is one of a kind and cannot be reproduced anymore. Nowadays, everyone is fighting to be different, so everyone is different. But only a few are authentic and unique, because they practice their own nature. In line with that I act. And of course, it could not be in another way, since it’s handmade, in my free time and since I always have diverse ideas and projects in my head… is difficult to focus on only one nest…
Black Metal plays a fundamental role within your creations. Can you talk about what sparked off your infatuation with BM and the function it has in your daily life?
Talking about something that is linked with profound feelings & experiences is always strange and intricate…
…Regarding the link with Black Insignia which was created from the inside to the outside… I started to create some ornaments to myself; I wanted to possess something made by myself that expressed my cult towards some bands that I really worship (although there are pieces created only by customers demand).
I grabbed the concept of the old school pins, that for me are such a boring piece and don’t emphasises the magic and don’t offer a majestic touch which some bands or subjects deserve. So it was a way to reverence them in a visual and wearable way. I think I cannot describe better what Black Metal is to me than it’s something occult and raw that runs in my bloodstream, whether I’m listening to it at home or in a concert or even when I’m creating it…
Can you please name some jewellery designers who you find particularly inspiring, and what it is about them that draws you to their work?
There are some jewellery designers that I have discovered a few months ago that are really inspiring. They have different approach that is not patent in Black Insignia for the moment, due to different materials and techniques used.
I’m really fond of, BoneLust, Lauren Kane, Wolftea to name a few. All of them have in common the use of taxidermy, bones and nature elements, which I truly find irresistible and admire. And here we could go again to talk about the passing of time, death… I also appreciate the pieces of Bloodmilk, Ovate & vintage goodies found on antique fairs. And off course, the Portuguese Filigree is one of a kind. Since the Roman times the Portuguese filigrana artisans have mastered their art meticulously to create very delicate, intricate and amazing jewellry pieces.
What do you do to maintain your motivation and passion for your occupation?
For me inspiration it’s what moves me. Once you have it, your mind is willing to know/learn more, to create more, and to express more.
The feedback from people is really important whether we are talking about friends or simply the people that follow and acquire my work and support the project with kind messages. It’s really good to have the opinion from all of them. Without them Black Insignia would not exist. I’m sincerely grateful to all.
If you had the choice to live through a different time, what period would you choose, and what are the reasons for your choice?
That’s a difficult question to answer in a one shot option, because there are so many different epochs I would adore to have lived in. Most of the experiences I would love to have lived are related with music, but also linked with Arts, Culture or Spirituality… why? Well… it’s my cup of tea.
Naming a few… Victorian Era; in the 20’s in Portugal to drink red wine and have talks with Fernando Pessoa; in Tibet before the monstrous usurpation; to see Elvis and Maria Callas live in concert; in the 60’s to get mad seeing The Doors, to slide to the 70’s to see Ziggy Stardust, Joy Division, Black Sabbath in that magnificent concert in Paris 1970, and to run another decade to get the speechless pleasure of seeing Nirvana live concerts and a lot of Black Metal concerts of the 90’s.
Do you enjoy listening to music while you work, or is silence more preferable?
Music always depends on my mood; silence only depends on my mind… there is no rule for that… but usually I work in silence, since music has a profound impact on me.
Much of your work represents nature. Can you talk about the connection that you have with the outside world, and how important it is to you as an individual on a personal level?
Nature has always a preponderant role in my life. I had the privilege of growing on the countryside surrounded with vast plains; animals; lonely trees; a vast sky sight, where I could delighted observe big red full moons and to watch around midnight a great white owl that passed by my window. It is almost a chemical dependency to go frequently into the woods to hear the birds, to see the typical fauna of each season, to collect goodies, to photograph or just to lie down on the grass and empty your mind. We can learn so much when you are nature surrounded, you can learn not only about Mother Nature but also about yourself. We are part of Her, we are not above Her. It is our duty to respect and to preserve the Earth.
How essential is it, in your field of work, to have a strong, online presence?
It’s important to be present online to share your work within a greater range of folks and to know other interesting projects in different fields. It’s nice to get people’s feedback. I tend to things in my own rhythm. I really don’t what to massacre people with my stuff as in the same line I don’t create massively the ornaments. I keep my online presence as quite as myself. I have less mind space for Internet garbage or no patience at all… Internet is gold and poison at the same time. It’s used as a tool, not as a breathing mask. Balance is everything.
Do you sometimes find you need to escape the world of technology? What do you do to break away from it?
Life is much more than technology and I totally need to escape from it, although I have an addiction problem with photography. I always have a tendency to photograph everything. When possible I take a break with a little journey. There are such beautiful places everywhere to be discovered. I go to museums, antique & flea fairs, cemetery and forest walks; music jam and drinks with friends, preparing a photo shoot or crafting. There is a world outside the box to be understood and worshipped!
Are you working on any exciting new projects at the moment?
I work in different fields at the same time, it can be crafting for Black Insignia, or moving ahead with my xerox zine Ruína Urbana, or getting ready for another photographic session, or exorcise my demons through music. As far as Black Insignia is concerned I have been trying to get other techniques/materials that will allow me to keep my idea of making things “perpetual” or at least more durable in time. But there is always something new coming up…
Where would you like to be at with Black Insignia ten years down the line?
“In ten years from now I would like to be…” it’s something I tend not to think about. The important is The Here and The Now. We have no control over anything, only in the present you can make the difference. If you don’t have expectations, if you don’t give fuel to illusion, so you can avoid suffering and frustration, only with that thought you can find peace that allows you to make what makes you happy now. Anyway, I think that in ten years Black Insignia is going to be dead at least in the format it is now. It will be a good and positive experience/lesson I will have to remember. But definitely I would be grateful if I could grow as an artisan, keeping on creating handmade artefacts, drifting in my perpetual landscapes…
Where can Black Insignia be found?
Thank you for your interest and best wishes to you and your work.
Website – http://www.black-insignia.tumblr.com
Social Network: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Black-Insignia/199233443534813
Info & Order: email@example.com