I’ll be honest, I didn’t plan on visiting Mafalda Maya’s studio. But good things happen for a reason, and while visiting Ana Sales Jewelry studio in Lisbon I met Mafalda who shares the studio space with her and it was just too good to be true!
Mafalda is full of life. She talks with her hands and is always smiling and bursting into laughter while telling her story. She started doing jewelry in high school and went on to Contacto Directo Jewelry school to pursue her jewelry education. She then decided to leave Portugal and move to New York for a couple of years where she studied at the UrbanGlass studios and learnt how to do glass flameworking (also known as lamp working). She moved back to Lisbon, finished her jewelry course and started her namesake business in this beautiful downtown building.
This is a brand new studio, so when I visit there is still no electricity and the chandeliers on the showroom still need to be set and shelves need to be assembled, but the jewelry area is ready. This studio has these beautiful windows that let the morning sun come in. Across from it is a youth hostel and a bright yellow building and Mafalda jokes that their front neighbors change daily. Mafalda tells me of her experience of having lived abroad and coming back to Portugal. She has that artist spirit when talking about the things she loves and hates in growing up the business and has a very positive attitude towards life. As I’m snooping at her bench I see these beautiful vintage cups and saucers, some tiny plastic scissors and a shaving brush, which I think is much more fun than using old toothbrushes like most of us do. On top of her bench there are little magnetic words spread over the metal plaque, that she arranges according to the mood in the studio.
I also get to snoop her glass beads box that she did while in NYC and more recently at her studio and see some of the new work she’s doing. Even though she mentions that her favorite tool are her clippers, I believe the second most favorite is probably the jewelers’ saw given the amount of detailed sawed pieces she had in the showroom. As all jewelers she has a special piece of jewelry that she always wear and that I loved: a twisted ring that opens to become 2 linked rings. It’s simple, ingenious and modern – a staple for future heirlooms.
Visiting Mafalda Maya Jewelry studio was an added bonus and one of those gifts that fall from heaven. I’m so glad she was game to let me do it on the spot and I look forward to visit again and see it all dirty and messy. Thanks Mafalda for a delightful visit!
Mafalda Maya / M + M Handmade Contemporary Jewelry:
How did you become a jeweler?“The earliest memories I have related with jewels are from my grandmother showing me her pieces: I would get all excited and willing to wait whatever it took to take a look at everything. I feel I owe it to my grandmother.”
What do you like the most about your space?
“How practical and organized it is. Being close to the window also helps making me love it!”
Pick 3 objects from your studio that make your space yours!
“My bench, the denim shirt hanging on my chair waiting for me to wear it and my hardware pliers :)”
Favorite spot in the studio?
“The studio is really cosy, but I believe my favorite spot is at my bench.”
What do you love & hate doing at the bench?
“I love all the work and how much more organized I am since I got my new bench! It makes me so mad when I spill the flux jar… Or when the blue flux makes everything look like we got snowed in!”
What makes you procrastinate?
“Not having a list of what I need to get done!!!”
What is currently inspiring you?
“This city. All the other cities I have been at. The new vs. Antique combination. Beauty. Kindness.”
What piece of jewelrydo you always wear?
“My twisted ring which can be opened, and is the first of this kind I ever made.”
Currently obsessed with which gemstone or metal?
“Antique diamonds, that were once set on other pieces, and other people. And recycled gold!”
Piece of jewelry you are most proud of?
“A saw-pierced brooch, which took me more than 10 hours to make…”
What’s the longest periodof timeyou spent at the studio and why?
“It has already happened more times than I wanted to. As a freelancer, there were sometimes I was working 3 different jobs, and to be able to make it work at the studio, I had to put up several allnighters. I am blessed to have amazing people around me who were always calming the chaos…”
The best thing a client ever told you?
“A heartfelt THANK YOU.”
The funniest thing a client ever told you?
“My clients are always so serious… Ahahah :))”
What’s on your bench right now?
“A bracelet and a brooch waiting to be finished.”
If you weren’t a jewelry designer…
“I could be a teacher and a millionother things… But I am an artist, and the best way to express that is through jewelry making.”
“Humm… I like the pliers!