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“Despite my best efforts to make something that is light, what I design always comes out a little Gothic or medieval,” says Jessamee Sanders when describing her new line of handmade minaudières, called Tamlin and the Fall. The name came from a Celtic myth in a song that Sanders’ Swiss and British family used to sing.
The collection, created with her Rhode Island School of Design classmate Elisa Ballegeer, is based on three natural forms — an egg, a crystal and a shell — and the result is sculptural yet functional bags.
Each piece is cast in solid sterling silver, but is also available in 18-karat gold plate or solid gold, and is adorned with delicate ostrich and emu feathers. The linings are either alligator or rattlesnake, and each bag comes in a leather-lined box. Retail prices start at $19,800. Pieces also can come in oxidized, blackened or matte finishes. Sanders hopes to expand the line to include jewelry and objets d’art.
Sanders majored in fashion design, hoping it would be an avenue for her interest in sculpture. During her college years, she interned at Benjamin Cho and for actress Karen Allen’s sweater line. But after graduating in 2006 and spending some time in New York City, Sanders, who is now based in upstate New York, decided to create something on her own. She was collaborating with Ballegeer on a leather goods line when Ballegeer introduced her to a Brooklyn metalsmith who had done work for designers and houses including Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler, Donna Karan and Oscar de la Renta.
“He basically challenged us to design something he would want to cast,” Sanders says.
“My vision comes from a sculptural, form-centric point of view more than a fashion one,” she adds. “To work in this secluded studio in the woods and produce in the city is, to me, the ideal artist’s life.”