A visit to La Plata Studio

By Lily Fonzo

On a gloriously sunny day in late spring Lily Fonzo journeyed to a quiet side street in Norwich. To find the bustling workshop belonging to Erika Del Zotto. Surrounded by hand dyed fabrics, ethically sourced stones and salvaged materials, they discussed Erika’s practice and influences. How she is inspired by the landscapes of Norwich to the edge lands of the Andes, South America. Read on to discover more about how ethical materials and practices need not come at the expense of elegant and precious jewellery.

A selection of some of the stunning jewellery at La Plata Studio

Erika Del Zotto is an Argentinian self taught maker. She refers to herself as a maker rather than a jeweller or artist. Paying tribute to her broad artistic interests and her country of birth. Born and raised in Argentina, the countries rich culture of makers and craftspeople has left an indelible mark on Erika. Establishing her brand ‘La Plata Studio’ in 2019, from her home in Norwich. Erika has built a dedicated customer base. Who return time and time again due to her minimalist, contemporary and balanced creations. Prior to establishing her brand Erika worked as a jeweller for eight years whilst cultivating other skills and raising her children.

“I can’t imagine my life any other way. I found a way to communicate through silver and each piece … of jewellery I create… is a true one of a kind made with love and attention to detail.”

Erika Del Zotto
Erika’s work bench in her studio

Value in the Ethics

Not only is sustainability an important value in her business, it is integral to her complete creation process. From inception to delivery, materials and methods are analysed as to ensure that La Plata Studio is creating minimal environmental impact. This is an important commitment central to the business.

With a deep passion Erika tells me of how silver was her first love. The foundational memory of a silver ring collection she built when growing in Argentina continues to inspire her preference for this material when making. All silver used at La Plata Studio is made from Eco-Silver. A greener alternative to Silver, Eco- Silver is a recycled sterling silver which does not compromise on quality. On the occasions that stones are used, Erika sources them from companies which are traceable, Fair-mined and Fairtrade certified.

From the Andes to the Streets of Norwich

Erika’s jewellery is timeless. Minimalistic and organic in shape, with a satin or matt finish that gives the final piece a rough-yet delicate industrial look. The skilful occasional incorporation of wood, stones and geometric markings are a treat for the eyes. The influence of early Latin Americana artists, designers and artisans is clear to see. Shapes echoing the art of conceptual pioneer Lygia Clark. However, Erika informs me that inspiration can also be found closer to home, in magazines, local street style and art books.

The joy and playfulness that she has whilst creating translates clearly into the jewellery. No design is pre planes, instead the creation begins and from this a design emerges / takes form. The material guiding the process. Testing the limits of trial and error and embracing ‘mistakes’ are encouraged. This leads to creations which are dynamic and playful, leaving the wearer inspired and elevated by the jewellery. Erika’s specialities are hollow form, water, salt and lentil cast jewellery.

A pot of water cast Eco-Silver droplets in Erika’s studio

The Future

Through being able to connect with her customers at pop up stores, events and markets, Erika has built a strong rapport with her loyal following. Just as La Plata Studio’s creations inspired the wearer, Erika is equally influenced by the customers she talks to. Inspiration, she says, can be found anywhere! 

As my visit drew to a close, Erika showed me a selection of beautifully hand dyed fabrics. Where gentle purples caressed delicate peach tones, and where radiant yellows stood bold alongside waves of indigo. The colour of the dyes come from flowers, roots and berries in Erika’s garden. These textiles are the result of intentional, grounded and mediative actions between cloth and nature. Erika explained to me how the motions of this process ground her back to the physical landscape and environment she currently resides in. ‘It has been a way to re-connect back to the land.’

These fabrics will be incorporated into upcoming collections.

For more information and to keep up to date with Erika please see https://laplatastudio.com/ and Etsy shop LaPlataStudiojewel

Lily Fonzo