“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance”. Coco Chanel
For fans of local jewelry designer, Tatiana Cabral-Smith, it's the simplicity of her necklaces, bracelets and earrings that draws them back as repeat customers. She takes lengths of wire and sheet metal– mostly brass, silver, and copper – then bends, stamps and burnishes them into simple geometric shapes that accentuate the style of their wearer. The statuesque artist, with her honey-gold skin and dark, luminous eyes, also makes a great model for displaying her unique designs.
In addition to serving as an outlet for Cabral-Smith's artistic impulses, her jewelry also serves another purpose. Sales proceeds support the mission work of Tapestry Church Savannah, where she and her husband, Christian musician, Isaac Smith, serve as worship leaders.
“Last year I went on my first service trip,” she said. “A large group from my church spent two weeks in Ethiopia building a high school in a remote village named Wachuge. Currently, the students can only achieve an 8th grade education, but with our help, they can become teachers and doctors. We plan to return and continue to work closely with the people of Wachuge in order to help improve their community.”
Tatiana Cabral-Smith grew up in a bilingual household in the Bronx, New York, the daughter of parents from the Dominican Republic.
In an online blog, she describes her early life.
“Many of my childhood memories are those of my mother serving others, whether that was hosting or translating important documents for Spanish-speaking families,” Cabral-Smith said. “Our home was always filled with family members and guests who needed a place to stay, even if just for a short time. Our home was not perfect and we did not have much, but I see now that it was considered a safe place for many. My family had difficult financial times and have been the recipients of other’s generosity at times.”
Cabral-Smith earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a Masters degree in counseling from Florida universities.
“Early on, my parents shared the importance of education as a way to have a better chance at a stable, better paying career,” she said. “My parents did not go to college but there was no question that I would.”
Cabral-Smith discovered her talent for jewelry-making last year after enrolling in a class sponsored by the City Of Savannah's S.P.A.C.E. Gallery (Savannah’s Place for Art, Culture and Education).
“The classes were a great stress reliever,” she said. “As a recovering perfectionist, I went all out on my first day in enameling. I started with a large bib necklace. When I dropped one of the strips in the kiln, I said, “Oh no! It’s all bumpy now.” My teacher, Christi Reiterman, helped me get it out of the bottom of the oven and casually said, “That’s all part of the process. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve dropped. Don’t worry, it has character now. Look at all those cool waves and patterns.”
When friends complimented her jewelry, Cabral-Smith decided to use her new-found skills as an opportunity to raise funds for her favorite causes.
“As I continued on, I realized how much I love making personalized stamped jewelry,” she said. My first piece was a copper bracelet with “Wachuge” stamped on it. I did not want to forget what I learned from my time in Wachuge. Friends began asking where I bought my jewelry, and when I told them I made it, they asked if I could make a custom piece for them. I realized that this could be a great opportunity to help raise funds for Wachuge. So, here I am, trying something new and feeling a little vulnerable. My goal is to use a new passion (jewelry making) in order to assist in making life better for the people of Wachuge.”
In her day job, Cabral-Smith works as a counselor and student success advisor at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where she uses her bilingual skills to help Latino students and their parents navigate the sometimes tricky waters of student loan applications and career counseling.
SCAD is literally a world away from Wachuge, the small village in Ethiopia so remote that it takes a bus 14-hours to make the journey from the nearest metropolitan area. “But I decided early in life that I wanted to spend my life helping others and I'm very thankful that God has given me talents I can share to accomplish that goal,” Cabral-Smith said.
Locally, you’ll find Cabral-Smith’s jewelry in the NOLAjane Shop in Savannah’s Starland Arts district at 2436 Bull St. Or you can shop online by visiting her website at TatianaCabralSmith.com