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Image / Beauty

5 Minutes With Body Jewellery Artist Maria Tash

by Ellie Balfe
27th Oct 2017

Calling all magpies! Maria Tash – one of the worlds most coveted body piercers and jewellers – is returning to Brown Thomas Dublin today to take up residency for the next ten days. Digital director Ellie Balfe caught up with the artist ahead of her return to learn about her journey as a world-renowned body jewellery artist.

Who: Fine body jewellery artist Maria Tash: pioneer of the modern movement for luxurious, petite diamond body jewellery.

What: Dazzling earrings, septum and nose jewellery, and body jewellery using fine stones and minerals. Her work is inspired by Indian and Pakistani designs – she is perhaps most notable for her intricate and delicate nostril and ear jewellery.

Where: Brown Thomas level 2 from October 27th to November 5th

Why we love her: Tash has grown and developed a career spanning more than 21 years and has earned plenty of street cred among the piercing and body art communities. With a rich Armenian-American heritage and a strong thirst for culture and luxury, Maria has innovated the body art world and propelled it into the 21st Century marketplace. Tash’s designs are modern and sophisticated and become a part of the wearers being: she has created a space in Western culture where personal expression through body art is considered normal and beautiful.

What brought you to body piercing?

As a teenager, I spent time in the West Village of Manhattan and in Kensington Market in London.  I remember being impressed seeing helix piercings with charms hanging from the rings, and with nostril piercings in London. I also became intrigued by photos of old, elaborate Indian weddings and purchased books of traditional Indian jewellery.  In these photos, the brides had amazing and intricate nostril, multiple lobes, and cartilage jewellery. I purchased an ear piercing gun as a teenager and started using it on myself and friends. The ear piercing gun is not the professional way to get pierced, but it was 1987, and needle piercing was not developed. By the time I was in college, I had multiple cartilages and lobe piercings and my nostril double pierced.  I then attended Fakir piercing school in 1993 and further honed my needle style professional piercing technique. I also remember thinking how pretty it was to have a stone inside the navel, and then glueing a gem in there before navel piercing was known. The aesthetics of early goth and punk rock where followers had unusual piercings, as well as Indian jewellery culture, influenced my aesthetic and urge to start piercing.

What are your favourite areas to pierce?

I like creating curated ear looks. The plane of tissue where the Tash rook piercing lives is such a fun spot as it is wide and multiple or larger pieces of jewellery can easily be worn there.  I also like trying to invent new places to pierce, but this is difficult.  I’ve beta tested a piercing and named “Tash daith” on a prominent member of our UK staff, which is a stud worn in an inner area of the ear that requires a specific tiny curved bar to make the piece disappear inside a fold of the ear. I also enjoy speaking to my international piercing staff and discussing new areas to pierce and how we are going to
test them.

FKA Twigs wearing Maria Tash septum ring

How many piercings do you have, and where?

Ha!  Well, the number of piercings anyone has doesn’t really matter to me, it is more about how deliberate or unusual and well-placed the piercings are, and the quality of the jewellery you wear in them. I have some piercings that are not well placed but have sentimental value for the time in my life and who I was with when I got them done. My right ear houses seven piercings, my right, four. My jewellery in them changes periodically.  I have started to forgo wearing jewellery in my first holes to just emphasize my more unusual inner ear piercings.  If I have a more formal event, I will wear elaborate first lobe jewellery in addition to the other ear jewellery. I’ve worn two nostril piercings since 1988 when they were pierced in Kensington Market in London, a septum piercing I wear occasionally from 1992, and a navel piercing I got in 1993.  I have let various others close over the years, but some stay open and I wear jewellery in them when inspired.

Of your jewellery collection, which pieces do you love the most?

I’m very proud of my invisible set diamond pieces (individual stones and rings).  The amount of precision needed to take fully cut diamonds and then notch them invisibly below the girdle of the stones and set them without any obvious prongs or cup going over the tops of the stones is truly a manufacturing feat.  We now have invisibly set marquise diamond eternity rings as well as larger round diamond invisibly set diamond eternity rings.  I also love my new vintage eye and diamond rings and pendants.  I collected over the years vintage glass eyes that I’ve cut down and housed in decorative lace and diamond patterns as well as drilled diamond pears as tears coming off the eye.

What inspires you?

For design, I am inspired when I look at old Indian and Javanese jewellery, as well as modern, architecturally-oriented stone setting that resembles recessed lighting in unexpected locations.  I really enjoy intricate granulation in jewellery and its counterpart in apparel – beadwork and embroidery. I like looking at architectural trims for jewellery patterns, as well as new types of gold plating being developed.

Visit the Maria Tash pop-up from today, October 27th to November 5th. Bookings are now full but walk-ins are welcome