Veleta Vancza: The Art of Creating Luxury for Your Fingertips

Veleta Vancza is an artist, goldsmith and enamellist, with works featured in venues like the Museum of Arts & Design (NYC), the Design Museum (Helsinki), the Cheugju International Craft Biennale, and the Museum fur Angewandte Kunst; as well as in publications including Sculpture magazine, Metalsmith magazine and The Boston Globe. The already accomplished artist added another notch to her creative belt when she created MINE Luxury Nail Lacquer, a 5-Free polish melding nail polish with fine art. The lucky recipient of our July/August Bonus Box will get to experience the luxury of MINE’s 24k Gold Nail Lacquer for herself!

What first attracted you to being an artist, goldsmith and enamellist? What drew you to the field of metallurgy?
I went on a family trip to Colonial Williamsburg when I was 4 years old. I was in awe of the silversmiths making spoons and decided that was what I wanted to do when I grew up. I started taking jewelry making courses at age 12 and then studied jewelry and silversmithing in college. When I was a student at SUNY New Paltz I began using these techniques to make fine art. In graduate school, I focused on vitreous enameling (fusing glass to metal) and this is where my interest in chemistry came in handy. It was also where I ditched my 'chromophobia' (fear of color).

Of your early sculptural and design works, which ones still hold a special place in your heart?
I have a fondness for a few pieces I made while I was in undergraduate school. One is a piece called 'Feminine Protection', and it's a bandolier with functional sterling silver tampon cases. The piece was a true melding of my interest in Women's Studies and Fine Art. One of the goals of creating the piece was to raise awareness about the dangers of chlorine bleaching in tampons; a process still used by all major tampon manufacturers in the US today. I made the piece in 1999 and people still don't know about this issue, even though Scandinavian countries made the switch to the safe type of bleaching (oxygenated) in the 90's. More information on the topic can be found here: Is There Bleach in Your Tampon? (For a safe tampon option, try NatraCare or Seventh Generation).

I also studied abroad in Finland at the Lahti Polytechnic School of Goldsmithing and made some functional sterling silver drinking straws. That was really my first venture into product design.


What was the initial inspiration to create a line of luxury nail lacquer that could be handcrafted using raw minerals?
I have a friend that was telling me a story about how he had put gold leaf on someone's nails and how incredible and beautiful it was. It made me wonder if I could make a nail lacquer that actually had the gold suspended in it to make this task easier to do. I really began my investigations with MINE in the mindset of a conceptual artist. I started working on this about 7 years ago, and it took that long to get the product, packaging and branding exactly how I envisioned.

Why was it important for the nail lacquer to be 5-FREE?
Why use ingredients that are horrible for people and the environment when we don't need to? We were able to make the best lacquer in the world without all that junk.

What were some of the challenges in creating such a uniquely luxurious product?
I wear many hats at MINE from R&D to brand ambassador, and by far the greatest challenge was developing a package design that was viable for an independently funded startup, while maintaining the belief that 'the medium is the message'. The packaging needed to be as special and luxurious as the product inside. It was a tremendous challenge and I feel so incredibly honored to have been included on the 2014 Shortlist for a CLIO Image Award for packaging design.

Tell us about the design process for your signature handcrafted Austrian crystal bottle.
Most objects in the world are made up of 'stock parts' that are mixed and matched to create new designs. I think I looked at every 'stock' nail polish bottle in the world and nothing seemed good enough for MINE. I spent countless hours in Bergdorf’s and Barneys studying the best beauty packaging I could find, and the more I looked at beautiful designs, I knew I had to come up with something really special. I just kept thinking it needed to look like a gem shaped perfume bottle but couldn't fathom how I was going to be able to get one made with my tight budget. At a beauty packaging show, I came across a crystal manufacturer & was so ecstatic when they told me that because the crystal was hand cut, they could do small runs. I just had to adhere to some design parameters. This was a thrilling challenge, and I opted to go with a design inspired by the cubic crystal system, one of the simplest crystalline structures found in crystals and minerals. I am terrible at drawing. I think and create three dimensionally. I designed all of the components in a 3D rendering program called Rhinoceros, which allows you to make a virtual drawing and see how the objects look in different lighting, etc. I was able to see the bottle in many forms before it was actually produced. I designed all of the packaging using this program. It was holistically designed to mimic the unearthing of minerals from the earth. From the unwrapping of the graphite paper to revealing the gem inside.

What MINE Luxury Nail Lacquer style combination would you recommend to consumers for a fabulous summer manicure?
I've personally been loving the Aluminum Lacquer with a White Gold Leaf Top Coat. Its super blingy!

Outside of luxury nail lacquer, what are some of your favorite beauty products?
I'm totally addicted to Minkys lash extensions and can't imagine life without them! I'm also a huge fan of matte red lipstick. My favorites are Jane Jane Iredale Passion Lip Fixation and Mac Ruby Woo.

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