Design Series

Interview with Eve J Alfille on New Jewelry Series

Eau de Vie necklace

Q: Eve, thank you for taking the time to talk to us about your inspiration for the new Series, ‘Eau de Vie’. Creating a Series with water as an influence is not new for you. What experiences brought you back to water?

Eve: The first time I went to Santa Fe, I stayed with a friend and had an opportunity to experience everyday life.  She had a garden that was recreated from her time spent in Chicago. She was growing strawberries and apple trees and I was amazed because it takes a lot of water to grow these special fruits.  As I looked at the lush plants, I realized the contrast and that nature wouldn’t comply.

Q: What does water mean to you?

Eve: Water to me is a very powerful symbol…a symbol of celebration. I will confess…I am a very

Eau de Vie
Eau de Vie

poor drinker. Anytime I have a glass of wine, I quickly fall asleep. However, there was one time when I lived in Geneva, Switzerland, I was invited on a Sunday to a Swiss celebration that started at noon and lasted until six o’clock in the evening. There were many courses of delightful food, each accompanied by a special wine and spirits. At the end of the meal, we would go for a walk before coming back for supper.  There were about ten to twelve empty wine bottles on the table. I did not contribute to the empty bottles as I knew I wouldn’t make it through the meal.

After the meal, the host would bring out a cob web covered bottle from the cellar. Obviously it was something special.  It was a simple, yet beautiful bottle. By its appearance, it was evident it had history.

The bottle and the contents were clear, it looked like water. It was distilled Eau de Vie, which is an alcohol from fruit. One bottle I clearly remember had a pear that grew inside. It is very interesting and beautiful to see. What they would do is put the bottle over the bud and tie it to the tree. You can imagine the sight of empty bottles hanging from a pear tree!

As the sun and rain continue to help the bud grow into fruit, the pear ripens to full size inside the bottle.

Q:  That this was one spirit you tasted. What was the experience like?

Eve: It is the most exquisite liquor I have ever tasted. To my surprise, I didn’t have any problem drinking the liquor. It is extremely strong, powerful distilled spirits. It has a delicate aroma and is pure.

In the French language, all these distilled spirits of nature are called ‘Eau de Vie’. Eau de Vie literally means water of life and is associated with celebration. The host of the meal shares this very special gift with their guests. These spirits are rare and take years to mature.  As you can imagine it is also very expensive.

Q:  Why would spirits be called water of life?

Eve:  In many parts of the world, distilled spirits are associated with celebration.  The object is not to lose yourself in the drink but to be in common with a circle of close friends to celebrate. During the course of the long meal no one over indulged. The entire meal maintained a wonderful glow.

That’s when I knew Eau de Vie was a way of celebrating. It’s like ‘super’ water.

Poppies in the Fields of France

Q:  Your experiences as a child are many times reflected in your creations. Did you draw upon your European childhood?

Eve:  Yes, when I was a small child, 4 to 8 years old during WWII, we spent a number of years in the countryside pretending to be peasants. I lived close to the land as it was my constant companion. I watched the renewal of spring, thick heavy drops drenching the land and within days everything around exploded in verdant growth. I remember the fields in France blooming with bright red poppies and beautiful bachelor’s buttons It was then I realized water’s power.

But water can also be highly destructive. My friend Cato went to New Orleans after Katrina and took many pictures of the surroundings. To me the swirls and curves of the magnificent iron works represent the enduring strength of the human race, a lasting celebration of the spirit in the face of hostile waters.
Q:  When you were young in France, did you also experience the result of destruction by water?

Iron Fence in New Orleans

A:  No, but when I came to the United States and had my children, we went on a cross country driving trip to the Pacific. I was the navigator and wanted the unique experience, for a European, of seeing the Continental divide. I will not forget the incredible feeling of standing on the very line where the waters part: an elemental realization. I remember drawing closer to Nevada, wondering why the map showed so few towns. To my great amazement, I realized that it was a desert. No water, no life.

The contrast left an indelible imprint on me and generated the Series ‘Eau de Vie’.

Q: Your life experiences continue to intrigue us. We look forward to watching the unveiling of your new Series.