Elana Noy’s Malka Dina is an evolving collection of home wares, jewelry and art. Simply put, Malka Dina creates everything you need to make you and your home awesome. The Brooklyn-based designer works primarily with clay and metal, and uses her signature curves and shapes to bring an aesthetic theme to house and wardrobe.
When/why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
I have always been a maker and love working with my hands. I was a fibers maker in college, and while there was an emphasis on textile techniques, it was pretty interdisciplinary, and I dabbled in all kinds of 3D making, which lead me to ceramics and metal. I really love combining materials and figuring out new and interesting ways to use them. I think that my textile background has informed the way that I work with clay and metal and the atypical colors and textures that I try to achieve.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
Definitely. It’s really difficult to control ceramics, especially the glazing process, which can be very frustrating because I’m a total perfectionist. Even though I’ve gotten upset so many times over not having pieces turn out the way I want, it’s been sort of freeing (in a weird way), and has maybe desensitized me to disappointment. I’ll get annoyed that something didn’t go exactly according to plan, but it’s nothing like the heartbreak I used to have when I found a crack or a drip on something I made.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
My biggest sacrifice has been my free time – I honestly can’t remember the last time I took a day off. Working seven days a week sometimes has me feeling exhausted and worn out, but the tradeoff is doing what I love, and being my own boss is just amazing.
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
A few months ago I donated 10 limited edition pieces to my friends’ Kickstarter for a documentary they were making about nightlife icon, Susanne Bartsch. All 10 sold out way before the campaign was over! I was shocked and so happy, not only because I was able to help my friends but also because it was a little reminder that I have an audience out there and they are interested in my work outside of straight retail environments.
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
I worked as a bench jeweler for a few years before finally venturing into starting my own business. Being an art jeweler (or maker, in general) is very different from having a production business where you need to produce multiple pieces in as short a time as possible. It taught me to be aware of time and technique, and that while there are lots of ways to do something, there is usually a most efficient way.
What are some inspirations for your work?
I find inspiration everywhere, so I make sure to always have a notebook and camera on hand so I can capture little moments of color or shape that I find around me. I’m also very fortunate to have gone to art school, so I have some art history knowledge. I love a lot of work that came out of the early 20th century, especially the Bauhaus artists and the Art Deco era. In both cases, the styles were broad brush strokes that were exemplified in furniture, architecture, jewelry, home goods and beyond – a whole world was created with a strong signature aesthetic which is what I’m hoping to do with my body of work. Right now, I’m focusing on ceramics and jewelry but I definitely have bigger plans for the future.