Name: Peppercotton by Aurelia Cotton & Patrick Culpepper
Location: Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Product: Mesh and Crystal Necklaces, Ocean-Inspired Crystal Necklaces
Greenpoint, Brooklyn-based designers Aurelia Cotton and Patrick Culpepper of Peppercotton hand-craft their unique line of jewelry using vintage and Swarovski crystals. Here, the designers talk about their use of color and form to create one-of-a-kind pieces.
What inspired you to create this these products?
AC & PC: We joke that we are accidental jewelers because neither of us studied or planned on making jewelry when we met at the Rhode Island School of Design. (Patrick got a BFA Painting and Aurelia got a BFA in Apparel.) While working together in school, we stumbled upon this deceptively simple concept. After exhaustive experimentation at RISD, we realized how far we could push this idea. Starting Peppercotton served as a perfect creative outlet for both us since graduation.
How is the new mesh that you're using for the necklaces different from the old one? Why did you change the thickness of the necklaces?
The new mesh is finer, and slightly more transparent than the mesh we’ve used previously—a nice midpoint between our thick and skinny styles. The new size allows us to use a much larger range of crystal shapes and sizes. We can pair smaller stones (that would have fallen through our previous designs) with larger, more interestingly cut crystals. We have more control over the transitions and the gradients are more complex and dynamic throughout each piece.
What was the inspiration for the blue color?
The new light blue maintains a sheerness like the nude tubing, but really accentuates cooler tones. Blue designs are perennially popular for us, so this new horsehair presented a perfect opportunity for us to focus on this shade. For the first time we were able to explore and push a single color gradient while keeping true to each blue.
What was the inspiration for the knot design?
The blue palette has a very oceany feel, so incorporating another nautical element seemed perfect. The Monkey’s knot, or monkey paw, is a knot with sailing roots and variety of uses—ornament, weight, and weapon. The distribution of color throughout the knot also puts our gradients on display and highlights the range of tones within each piece.
How were these products made?
Every piece is handmade, so each one is unique. Our necklaces are made of nylon mesh tubing filled with loose Swarovski and vintage Czech crystals to create the look of a crystal rope. We choose and mix the colors and crystals in small batches for each necklace, carefully balancing tones, crystal size and shape, and pattern. Each piece is almost like a painting in this way. For example, to create smooth gradients, the crystals have to change size as well as color to blend evenly. Bigger crystals are used for the solid lengths of color; smaller crystals are used to transition colors. As they fall between the bigger crystals, they spread one color into the next. These painterly blending techniques allow our pieces to range from subtle gradients to bold, vibrant color shifts. Even within the same style, no two necklaces are identical in structure.
Where is this collection manufactured?
We hand-make each piece in our studio in Greenpoint, and we outsource our metal work in Manhattan.
How do you envision these pieces being worn?
They can be worn alone or layered for a bolder look. The long necklaces can be worn as a single strand, double strand, or wrapped around the wrist as a bracelet.
How would you sum up your aesthetic/design philosophy?
Color is very important to us. Layering and manipulating color has always been a central thread in each of our personal bodies of work and has become our most important source of inspiration. Simplicity, functionality and versatility are also very important—these necklaces can be hand-washed with dish soap and air-dried.
What are you working on next?
Bracelets, our spring/summer 2012 collection, and collaborations with different designers.