“Alex a Mano means Alex by Hand and 100% handmade is my driving force. I feel blessed to be on this path as an artisan metalsmith, and it is a gift to share this joy with you through my handcrafted pieces."
Alex Sulikowski is the designer, fabricator and owner of Alex a Mano. Prior to Alex a Mano, she started Terra Nostra Jewelry from a storefront in Arlington, MA. “Terra Nostra was an amazing turning point in my life. Honestly, it was more about self discovery and independence, like a gift I gave myself.” After 10 years, Alex closed the storefront in 2017, though she still maintains Terra Nostra online. After a move to Charlotte, NC she took the time to focus on expanding her skills into metalsmithing which has now resulted in the opening of Alex a Mano. "From a skill set perspective it has been like growing from a teenager into an adult. It is far more challenging but far more satisfying."
Driven by continuous learning of her craft and the thrill of designing with each newly acquired skill, Alex’s creations have roots in the ancient jewelry trade and inspirations she takes from nature and her daily experiences. “The personal journey of growth and the sharing of the beautiful stories behind every piece inspire me to create; the integration of those stories into the lives and stories of the wearer is my reward.”
Her life journey
Alex was born in the US, grew up in Cordoba, Argentina and her parents are from Poland and Croatia. In Argentina, Alex was embedded in extended family from those two cultures and considers this four-country exposure and the relationships she has built as responsible for her openness to a variety of artistic influences.
Within her family there is a passion for education, a trait that Alex shows in her continuous drive to learn more about her craft. The launch of Alex a Mano is a direct result of that continuous learning and pushing beyond her established skills. “Expanding my skill set from assembly of pre-produced parts to handcrafted metalsmithing has been a fantastic journey so far. There is a more authentic artisan feel to it and a much stronger sense of who I am from each piece. By making every component by hand, there is almost no end to the techniques to learn and the resulting design opportunities. It is both humbling and rewarding and gives me a deepend respect for those that have designed and created before me.”
Her design philosophy
Alex, whose designs have always expressed her orientation toward the irregular shapes that nature so readily provides, sees a new abundance of design from this very same theme. "Many of my pieces are asymmetrical because that’s the way I find elements in the world around me. Nature is asymmetrical but at the same time aesthetically balanced." By assuming the responsibility for handcrafting each element of the piece, Alex has removed the borders of pre-formed elements opening the creative process to infinite possibilities. “It is both daunting and liberating which is how I know I am on the right path”.
The Alex a Mano style fills the gap between costume jewelry and fine jewelry in a space she calls "everyday casual". “I think of everyday casual as anywhere from weekend jeans to professional casual. Designing in this space is a natural fit for me as it matches my lifestyle; I am dressy but in jeans most of the time.” Her pieces elevate the look of a casual outfit and incorporate an appreciation of the craftsmanship as only handmade objects can.