After the 1968 Prague Spring and the subsequent invasion of Warsaw Pact forces, Ester Krumbachová was one of many Czech artists effectively silenced and non-officially banned from Barrandov Film Studios until 1989. Occasionally finding work in film, sometimes under a friend’s name, she earned money from making amulets. Working with Fimo modelling clay and her kitchen oven, she created raw designs that combined many materials in each unique necklace. The pieces demonstrate her interest in alchemy, the esoteric and the transmutation of materials, and relate back to her innovative concepts in costume and set design.
Ester Krumbachová’s amulets store different kinds of energy in every piece. The production of amulets was subject not just to aesthetic requirements, but also astrology and numerology. Their materiality was important as well. The objects for the production of each amulet had to be varied in origin: produced industrially and by hand; natural and artificial; gifted, old, and used; bought and stolen; her personal things were used as well. The amulets thus connect Krumbachová with the whole fellowship of their bearers and confirm the circle of friendship and care. The amulets were designed with regards to their recipient, who always got the amulet with a letter and a description of its effects. Some of the recipients attest to their efficacy to this day.
In looking at Ester Krumbachová’s jewellery and amulets today, what stands out is their materiality. Still, her jewellery could be interpreted as a critique of consumer culture – it was based on recycling and handicraft. At times they also seem to have not even been made by human hands, but by some natural force. They connect artificially created nature with organic artificiality. In her films, they are not passive accessories, but rather actively influence events; they are not mere props, but participants.