Watch gears, glitter, and resin are some of the elements found in the stunningly beautiful jewelry created by Vivi Sun. A trained sculptor and painter, Vivi has been making jewelry for most of her life and has a vivid sense of color, texture, and form. Her signature pieces are those which include miniature watch gears and other parts, a steam-punk aesthetic beloved by many. Known as the “Frozen Time Collection,” these works are her most sought-after. Vivi’s delicate and striking craftsmanship led to her being recognized by Long Island’s Newsday paper in March of 2021. Frozen Time pieces were depicted along with other works such as those from the “Candy, Color and Composition Collection” comprised of pieces that include seashells, tiny glass marbles and even cake-decorating sprinkles.
Vivi Sun was born and raised in Taiwan. Raised in a family of architects, Vivi was accepted into a prestigious art school at the age of fifteen where she underwent three years of rigorous art training. Upon turning eighteen, she moved to New York and earned Associate of Applied Science degrees in both Fine Arts and Jewelry Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. From there, she went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Jewelry Studio from Montclair State University.
Vivi Sun Jewelry was founded in 2007. As the Studio Director, Vivi designs each piece herself and closely oversees production, including many custom-requests. Originally launched in Brooklyn, the company now operates out of Vivi’s Long Island home but she regularly participates in art fairs, street fairs, and holiday markets throughout New York. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Vivi has a storefront in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan.
As New York slowly reopens, Vivi is excited to be able to once again participate in vendor opportunities in Manhattan such as the Holiday and Spring Markets at Bryant Park and Columbus Circle. Vivi has partaken in these events since the early days of her business and, given the number of tourists in Manhattan, it enables her to raise global awareness of her creations.
Vivi Sun recently discussed her jewelry, inspirations, and hopes for the future via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your love for art and why do you gravitate towards jewelry as a medium?
Vivi Sun (VS): I have been into drawing and crafting since I was little. It has always been painting and drawing for me, until high school I found great interests and was surprised that I was very good in enameling class. I think that was my beginning passion for jewelry making. After graduating from Fine Arts, I thought to myself that I need a career path that can put my art background in a more practical way. So, I decided to continue in jewelry design, since it was always my second favorite.
MM: How did you come up with the idea of incorporating gears and other watch parts into your jewelry?
VS: It is a known trend called steampunk. I saw a lot of jewelry made with bare watch parts exposed and thought there must be a more elegant way to show those amazing gears. I was already working with resin, so I gave the steampunk style a new twist by taking the watch apart, laying out the gears one by one then concealing it with resin. It sure takes a lot more time to create the design, but the jewelry is not bulky anymore, also shows the gears much better and best of all, every piece is one of a kind.
MM: Typically, how long does a piece take to create?
VS: It will take up a week, because the creating process is complicated and resin needs a curing period. I always work in batches, instead of piece by piece, I found it more productive that way.
MM: What was life like for you growing up and how did your childhood—and artistic family—foster your creativity?
VS: My grandfather was the artist in the family. He was an elementary principal who collected stamps and practiced calligraphy daily. All my uncles and my father were in the architecture business. My parents were very supportive of me to explore my interest in art when I grew up unlike traditional Asian parents, which I felt grateful for until this day.
MM: How did moving to New York inspire you creatively?
VS: I moved to New York when I was 19-year-old and it opened my eyes and my mind in an extraordinary way. I was able to explore this new city as an adult, lived independently, and made every decision myself. Everything was new, fresh and somehow magical. In some way, New York City’s lifestyle, its culture and art world helped me grow and inspired me in many ways.
MM: Of all the pieces you’ve crafted, have you any special favorites?
VS: Personally, I really like the Frozen Time Collection, I enjoy the process of making each piece. First, I need to shop around flea markets and antique fairs for vintage watches. Then, I take them apart and regroup, lay them piece by piece. The whole process to create a piece is time consuming, but it is like a meditation for me when I make them. All the pieces in this collection look great and they are all one of a kind.
MM: How did you break into the art industry and get your art showcased in markets, especially big ones like Bryant Park?
VS: I was interested in Bryant Park Holiday Market way before I started my own business. I always took time to walk around the market every holiday season to encourage myself that one day I might be able to have my own booth there. It is an interesting story of how I got into Bryant Park Holiday Market. After years of visiting the park, finally one year I called the production company to inquire about the holiday shops, however I was not financially ready. Years later, I felt I was ready in all aspects, my concepts, my designs and most importantly financially ready. I called the company again, unfortunately they did not accept any new jewelry vendor at that time. Then, the most magical thing happened. The associate I talked to was the same person who picked my first phone call years ago. She remembered me because that was her first day of working at the company and my phone call was the first vendor inquiry she got. She remembered me all those years and helped me to skip the application process and brought my portfolio straight to the top boss. Immediately, she got me an appointment and with her help, I was able to join the holiday market for 11 years now.
MM: You had your own store in the city and now work from home, so what are the pros and cons of both those work styles?
VS: We closed our SoHo location due to COVID-19 in 2020. COVID changed people’s shopping habits which also changed my working style. Before the pandemic, I did most of the sales with customers in person, which was more intimate. I can get feedback immediately from customers. When the pandemic started, everything went online. I found myself working behind a computer more. I am still adjusting myself to the new selling method.
MM: How did you find out that Newsday wanted to feature you?
VS: I got a phone call from Lisa Irizarry the reporter back in March and she was working on a piece about resin art and craft. I was so thrilled to be included in her article. I just moved my jewelry studio two years ago to Long Island and everything is still very new to me. This article helped me to expand to Long Island customers and hopefully I will be able to participate in art shows and craft fairs in Long Island in the future.
MM: What has been the highlight of your career as a designer thus far?
VS: It will be my loyal customers. My customers are everything to me. I have a small bunch of customers who have been supportive of my design since the beginning. They visit me every year at the holiday market, bring me food, hot drinks and their friends to shop at my booth. I am very lucky to have their support.
MM: What are some of the most memorable comments you’ve gotten about your work?
VS: One time a customer pointed out my shop and said to her friends “This is my favorite shop in the market – Vivi Sun Jewelry.”
MM: What other projects are coming up for you soon and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
VS: Every year I will have 3 to 4 new designs, so I am working on them right now. Hopefully, we will be participating in this year’s Bryant Park Holiday Shop and I hope in the near future that I can re-open my store.
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To learn more about Vivi Sun Jewelry, visit the company’s official website.