Stephanie Schneider: Eternal Thread
Fluid and tactile, Stephanie Schneider’s jewellery designs are reminiscent of storied tapestries – woven using the designer’s unique technique, reimagined from textile artists and shibori masters of the past
For jewellery designer Stephanie Schneider, knitting, rather than metalwork, signalled a creative coming of age. Raised in Germany against the mountainous backdrop of the Bavarian Alps, she “knitted [herself] through puberty”, before going on to study fashion and textile design at Reutlingen University, and then Winchester School of Art, UK.
It was during this time that she discovered the work of Anni Albers - the prolific weaver who found artistic freedom as a student of Germany’s Bauhaus school in the early 1920s. Albers was famed for her tactile approach to abstraction and modernist design, and Schneider counts the weaver’s wall hanging ‘Black White Yellow’, originally woven in 1926, as one of her favourite designs: “I love the geometric but irregular pattern - and the colours are just perfect.”
Jewellery was never part of Schneider’s plan: “I worked in fashion for many years as a designer and was always drawn to fabric manipulation, embroidery and traditional handwork techniques.” Here she became aware of African and Japanese fabrics, and textile practices harnessed by indigo and shibori masters. While experimenting with similar fabrications and techniques, she created her first wearable design – “a long piece of seven 925 sterling silver chains, woven with black mohair thread”.
Now based in Antwerp, Belgium, Schneider has advanced her unique process to create jewellery that mimics the structure of fabric. “The way I work is the opposite of industrial and it is a technique used only by myself,” she tells us from the “small, cosy studio” she shares with a friend. “I always work with the same kind of silver chain, sometimes also plated in gold. Those chains I connect by weaving with silk thread or mohair yarn.”
Upon discovering Schneider’s designs, we were instantly struck by their depth. Much like Albers’ work - which presented pattern and colour as intrinsic, rather than on the surface – Schneider’s jewellery has pigment and patina woven through its core. The designer attributes her ability to make such pieces to an innate respect for traditional skills and craft: “It is more and more important to be aware of these amazing techniques that existed for such a long time and to keep them alive - to know that you can just use your hands to create something very precious.” Put simply, it’s “just so human”.