I’m Tamara Bavdek, and I’m the creator of This Ilk, which means of the same type or kind. I design and make lace statement jewelry inspired by vintage aesthetics. I pretty much do everything myself, including photography and graphic work, but I have recently acquired a bit of help from my good friend Marie-Laurence Guindon, who organizes my artistic chaos. We are based in Montreal.
This Ilk was started with no particular plan to make lace jewelry – to tell the truth, I was never a fan of lace! After earning a bachelor’s degree in industrial design, I did a little existential questioning and decided I needed a change – a big one. So, after nearly 20 years of having long hair, I decided to chop it off. I knew that a touch of femininity would be lost when I cut my long locks, so I turned to the era of awesome short ‘dos and women who pulled them off with amazing style: the ‘60s, and more specifically, Edie Sedgwick. Extra-large statement jewelry and bold make-up did the trick for her, so off I went looking for a way to mimic a pair of Edie’s earrings.
As I was researching, I found myself drawn to the simple shapes and art deco aesthetic in a lot of vintage laces from the ’60s and ’70s. That’s where my inspiration came from.
My process has developed over the years, and includes seeking out rare, high-quality lace and other trinkets from a variety of mostly vintage sources. These materials sometimes fit my existing ideas, and other times inspire new pieces altogether. Other parts of my process include cutting, dyeing, and treating the lace so it doesn’t fall apart. I also stiffen the lace strategically for structure, assemble, and paint the various pieces so they are as comfortable and durable as possible.
My industrial design background pushes me to constantly reinvent the notion of jewelry, or even simply the wearable. I want to surprise people with well-thought-out designs, and I enjoy using materials in ways no one has ever seen. In my case, sometimes the lace is the chain, the ornament, the link, or the bead in my designs. I think that that is what sets This Ilk apart; I have this constant urge to innovate in one way or another and improve my techniques.
Today, my hair has grown back, but my passion for statement pieces has never faded. With help from believers at various stages along the way, This Ilk has managed to become my life and full-time job. I couldn’t be doing what I do without Etsy, and the positive feedback I get here really keeps me motivated.