We’d like you to meet Viviane Hebel of Hebeldesign, who creates extraordinary pieces of jewelry based on The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series. What’s so special about her pieces? For one thing, they are all approved by author Cassandra Clare. For another, part of the proceeds go to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), which delivers free books and literacy resources to children in need. And finally, they’re just gorgeous! Read on to learn about her artistic process and why these are a labor of love.
Q. What inspired you to create jewelry based on The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series?
A. I read Twilight
last year encouraged by my 13-year-old daughter; even though I was a really good reader as a teen, I hadn’t finished a fiction book in a long time. I was hooked. And then I was looking for more fun books to read and The Mortal Instruments
had a good review everywhere so I decided to read them not really knowing much about the story. Needless to say I got very captivated by them. I loved the story and the world Cassandra created. I visited her website
to learn more about it and learned about the rune designs by Val Freire and joined the Google groups, etc.
I already had an Etsy store and had made a couple of items related to the Twilight movie, not really the books, because people were asking on Etsy’s Alchemy (custom requests).
Well, then I saw the rune marks designs Val had done and loved them. I realized that there were a ton of fans of the series but no merchandise around, so then it hit me — to join two things that I love and put them together.
Long story short, I contacted Cassandra with my project idea and she was really fast responding (I was really impressed and EXCITED) and interested in it. She was really easy-going and accepting. We agreed that I would donate part of the profit to RIF, which is a great nationwide organization that brings book to children in need, and next thing I know I open the Etsy TMI store, and I had people interested! Cassandra has been really supporting this whole time. I really owe all to her and Val.
Q. Tell us a bit about the process for making some of these pieces.
A. With the rune pendants it’s easy because I have a visual representation, so it’s just a matter of picturing them in silver. For the more elaborate pieces I start with a little research. The Morgenstern ring [left]
was really important in the whole series and it was very well described all along. Some pieces are also described to me by Cassandra and then I begin. I make some sketches, and then I transfer them into the computer to a vector-type drawing software to make templates that I then transfer to the silver.
My background is as a designer (graphic, industrial and textile) so I always tend to make plans and really defined drawings — that helps a lot when you want to reproduce a specific piece. I only started metalsmithing about 6 years ago when I moved to LA with my husband and kids, but that’s another story.
My metalsmithing technique is mostly fabrication, which is constructing from silver sheets and wires. Everything is hand-cut and soldered in place. I don’t reproduce by casting, and apart from chains and some clasps, I produce every piece.
Q. What sort of input does author Cassandra Clare and/or artist Val Freire have on your pieces?
A. Everything I produce is approved by Cassandra before I list it in the store. I design what I would like to sell and show it to her. Sometimes I just think of something and I tell her, and I get her feedback. Many of the pieces have been a collaboration or Cassandra’s idea and I “execute.” Some of the pieces have come from requests from fans/readers. I try to stay true to the essence of the books and not trail off. I also have tried to stay in the line of Val’s drawings, like Jace’s wings are not a typical wing representation, but it kind of goes with the rune designs.
Q. Which piece is your personal favorite and why?
A. I really have a hard time choosing, but I think Jace’s wings. It took a lot of time and effort to research and a LOT of sketches to bring the piece together in a way that looked “right to me.” I really wanted something that you could not find anywhere else. That’s more or less my motto here. I have learned that you have to distinguish yourself from the crowd so you don’t become a commodity.
I like the Nephilim ring [right] a lot too, for a very different reason. I saw some mexican paper cut pieces and immediately I thought of the ring. Some random things just pop up to me and when I make them come true, I feel good.
Q. Which book is your favorite and why?
A. Hard question again. I think I need to stick to City of Bones, because is what I fell in love with first. I took the book from my library and when I finished it I ran to buy all 3 of them.
Q. Anything else you’d like to tell us?
A. I must say I turned into an avid reader now. I have read over 30 books since last summer. Mostly YA/science fiction fantasy, and have a big list ahead of me. I am really looking forward for The Infernal Devices books and all the steampunk designs I hope to be able to make.