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Soft Like the Ladies

Interview with Simone Paasche and Katie Stout

As in all good millennial love stories, I first found the Stout Girls on social media. I was scrolling through Instagram when I came across some pieces of jewelry that I felt I absolutely had to have: a pair of hoop earrings executed in delicate gold with a small Stout Girl holding on to the bottom of each hoop. I was smitten. I quickly followed both the artist Katie Stout and the jeweler Simone Paasche, the multitalented women behind this collaborative line of jewelry: Sim & Stout. And, of course, I ended up buying myself a ring, which I now wear every day. Most of the pieces made by this pair feature little female figures, Stout Girls, living out their best lives on the jewelry. The dappled texture of the jewelry matches seamlessly with the sly details of the figures’ bodies. In the case of my ring, the Stout Girl’s cheeky little butt is visible on the inside of the band. This derrière is unseen when I wear it, but never fails to make me smile when I’m taking it off. The Stout Girls are so happy in their bodies that they bring to mind the undeniable exuberance that comes with being comfortable in one’s own skin.

Simone Paasche and Katie Stout, Photography by Sean Donnola

Elizabeth Muir

The Stout Girls are so unabashedly in love with

their bodies. What was your process for designing

these exuberant and confident figures?

Simone Paasche (SP)

The lady jewels are representative of Katie’s sculptural works. I adore Katie’s work and wanted to be able to put a little piece of it on my body.

 

Katie Stout (KS)

They are pinched out of wax, based off of my Lady Lamps. Wax is a great material because it’s quite similar to clay in terms of manipulation, and it’s soft like the ladies.

What are your favorite nudes in art history, in jewelry or otherwise?

SP

I adore Cecily Brown. She has many large works with bodies in frenetic motion and the way she captures flesh is gorgeous.

 

KS

Obviously I love the Venus of Willendorf, especially after learning about the theory that her proportions are so voluptuous because it was created from the perspective of looking down at one’s own body. I love how Emma Kohlman depicts her nudes as well – I respect when people let their material do what it wants the way she does with her watercolors. I also love how Sally Saul makes her figures and the simplicity of Copley’s nudes.

Stout Girl Sideways Necklace, photography by John Lawton

How did you meet, and what sparked the creation of this line of jewelry? Do you have any plans for expanding it?

SP

We met in our freshman year at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design). We were in the same class section during our first semester. I got to know Katie very well and I still see some of her 19-year-old self in her current work.

 

KS

I love working with Simone and hope we can continue working together. My favorite way of spending time with people I care about is working on projects together.

There’s such a finely dappled texture to your pieces and an acute attention to the detail of the bodies. How did you achieve this finish?

KS

My ceramics are pinched and finished in either glaze paint or luster.

Since the Stout Girls are also formed in ceramic, how did you translate these forms from ceramic to metal?

KS

With Simone’s little fingers.

What are some other female jewelry designers that are on your radar?

SP

Mallory Weston, Gabriella Kiss, and

Lola Brooks.

 

KS

Kellie Riggs and Jiwon Choi.

Stout Girl Hoop, photography by John Lawton

What is the one piece of jewelry that you would love to own?

SP

Everything in the Museo degli Argenti at Palazzo Pitti in Florence. But if I had to pick just one thing, it would probably be the set of ancient Egyptian gold fingers and toes from the Tomb of the Three Foreign Wives of Thutmose III, which currently reside in The Met.

 

KS

The idea of owning jewelry is sometimes intimidating because I have a hard time keeping track of small, precious items. I can feel my heart rate spiking at just the idea of owning another piece of jewelry. Simone regularly receives texts from me about me losing my wedding band and engagement ring (always false alarms) and how I need a carabiner to put them on. So, I guess the one piece of jewelry I would love to own right now is a carabiner to put my other jewelry on when I’m working with my hands.

Elizabeth Muir is a writer and historian of material culture and design. She recently graduated with a Master’s Degree in Curatorial Studies and the History of Design with distinction and departmental honors from the New School.

This article is published in the 2019 New York City Jewelry Week Paper, the result of a collaboration between Current Obsession and NYCJW.

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