Anni Albers – What is valuable?

From the 1930’s to 60’s, German-American designer Anni Albers traveled Mexico to see archaeological sites and art treasures. In the ancient city of Monte Albán she discovered Zapotec jewelry and was fascinated by the way they combined precious materials like gold and silver with simple shells, corals and colorful stones. She asked herself if jewelry needed to contain jewels and what was it that made a material valuable.

Back home in the US, she browsed 10 cent stores and bought paper clips, bobby pins and other household items considering them beautiful and valuable regardless of their low price. Along with a friend, Anni tried to assemble the single parts into jewelry pieces:

“Like any other work that has not been tried before, it took on form only by being tried.”

Hooking, threading, wrapping – there were so many possibilities and so are today. The whole collection of Albers’ necklaces can be seen here and I find her story a good way to discuss material, value and creativity with children. Paper clips and a nice string is all kids need to make simple necklaces themselves.


DIY idea and photo by me, more: Anni Albers’ lecture about her jewelry