Meet the Artist: Dalia Finestein of Made by Dalia

Photos: Courtesy of Made by Dalia

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

Hi I’m Dalia, I’m 23 years old, born and raised in Manchester (UK), in 2020 I made aliyah and moved to Tel Aviv where I realised I wanted to pursue my art career. I was previously working as a veterinary nurse however I found that the career lacked creativity and I wanted to try a more creative route.

What inspired you to become an artist?

I have always been creative and interested in art. Growing up Art was my favourite subject at school. I always loved creating products which could be used, however I hate the lack of sustainability in mass produced products. I started creating eco-friendly art on my balcony in Tel Aviv, just for friends until they started requesting it for their friends and that’s how my business grew.

What is your speciality?

My speciality is working with Jesmonite – an eco friendly alternative to traditional resin. I first had to master mold making as Jesmonite must be poured into a silicone mold. Jesmonite is so versatile as it sets as the shape of the mold, and begins white and you add various pigments to create desired colour and effect.

How and where do you work?

Where – I work at my art studio in central Tel Aviv, it is located near the shuk hacarmel and is open (upon request) for people to come and shop the range in person.

How – I create all my masters out of either ceramics or plaster, once dry I make a silicone mold and then the Jesmonite process can begin. I mix the Jesmonite liquid and powder to the correct ratio, add pigments and pour into the mold. After 30 minutes I am able to demold. 24 hours after I demold I sand and seal the products to make them waterproof.

What is the most indispensable item in your studio?

The most indispensable item in my studio is definitely my weighing scales. Jesmonite must be prepared to the correct ratio of 2.5 (Powder) : 1 (Liquid) in order to set correctly and become solid. Additionally, there is a limit to how much pigment can be used, so I must also weigh out the pigment even if it’s a small amount. Without the scales, I wouldn’t get the correct ratio therefore the chemical process would fail and my products would not set.

Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?

I love working with the neutral colours as it is my taste, however I also love the classic Judaica blue. I get a lot of inspiration from walking around Israel, seeing Jewish designs and art. However, I try to create modern versions of Judaica, a lot of my inspiration is taken from architectural and geometric shapes, such as my two styles of Chanukiahs which are very different to traditional Chanukiah shapes.

Do you do bespoke work?

Yes, all my work is available in any colour as I mix the pigments myself to create the perfect shade every time. I also love exploring new designs.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently working on some of the Passover Collection, doing product research and sculpting a few things to see what looks best.

What is or are your favourite items in your current collection?

My favourite item in my current collection has to be my Chanukiahs, for years I grew up with a basic cheap metal Chanukiah. However, I wanted to create a Chanukiah that can be used as home décor all year round, and lit specially on those 8 days. The process of creating the Chanukiah was by far the most challenging and rewarding.

How do you know when a piece is finished?

A piece is finished when it has been demolded, sanded and sealed.

What was the first artwork you ever sold?

The first artwork I sold was a pair of Shabbat candle stick holders.

Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far?

The Chanukiahs were the most enjoyable project. I made the masters out of plaster by constructing an external wooden negative frame. Once I had the plaster product, I had to decide where the candle holes would go and create them evenly spaced and deep enough to hold the candle. I used plaster as it allowed me to create the candle holes with light pressure and kept the geometric shape I was looking for. After the plaster model had dried for a week, I made a silicone mold of it and was able to begin experimenting with different Chanukiah designs.

What do you want to achieve with your work and what are your wishes for the future?

I would love to achieve a larger collection of Judaica products, such as Havdalah sets, passover collection and more. I want to allow Judaica in the home to feel part of the home décor whilst also being eco-conscious. My wishes for the future is to grow my audience worldwide as well as be stocked in more stores around the world.

Where can we find your work?

You can find my work on Instagram

and Etsy

New products are constantly being added so if you don’t see what you’re after on my website, feel free to send me a message with requests.

Photos: Courtesy of Made by Dalia

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