If you are at all familiar with the inner workings of TUMO Studios, odds are, you’re also familiar with a certain towering figure sporting a very metal goatee who has an infectiously positive attitude and always carries a satchel over his shoulder. You’re never quite sure what’s in the satchel, but you are somehow sure that whatever is in it serves a practical, necessary purpose. He is Zeron Dovletian, the TUMO Studios Production Manager and former TUMO building manager, and for him there is no such thing as “we just can’t do it.” More on that later.
Zeron handles procuring the materials for every Studios atelier, a task that requires no small amount of sleuthing and exploration. “There can sometimes be challenges involved with finding the appropriate materials. If they’re good quality, then you usually only find it in small quantities, and if it’s in large quantities then it’s probably not of the best quality. But I’ve noticed that since our first atelier with Laura Sansonetti even, it’s already gotten easier to find great, higher-quality materials.” The quest to find these materials however isn’t as cut and dry as “locate vendor, purchase from vendor.” It takes a little bit of a creative thought process and a lot of perseverance and this is exactly where Zeron excels. It doesn’t matter how unlikely or difficult the request is, if you ask Zeron if something is possible to get or do he’ll respond, “It’ll happen,” with a smile on his face and sure enough, it will. Nothing is insurmountable and nothing is out of reach, they’re just a little bit further beneath the surface than most people (Zeron excluded) are willing to look for. “I’ll be searching for a certain kind of pen or stationary product and I’ll assume it’d be found in a stationary store, but then after some searching I’ll end up finding it in a pharmacy.” There’s no one place to find everything, but for Zeron, that’s part of the fun. “You just need to be extra tenacious and try different places until you find what you’re looking for, but you will find it eventually.”
That Zeron facilitates the process of working with your hands shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Zeron gravitated toward working with his hands at a young age and was a professional jeweler for over twenty years in Beirut, Lebanon before he moved to Armenia in 2013. “Working with jewelry allows you to create something from nothing. You can start from the metal’s purest, simplest form and transform it completely.” Zeron doesn’t work with diamonds or precious stones; he prefers working with metals, particularly silver.
“I like the metal how it is, in its natural state, without excessive ornamentation or coloring.” His appreciation for the untouched purity of the material led him to experiment with the tuff rock, indigenous to Armenia, as part of his designs. “I like the rock aesthetically and it’s soft, easy to use, so I thought why not incorporate it into my own jewelry designs.”
Zeron doesn’t have any plans to go back to jewelry design full-time just yet. “With jewelry design, I’d be working by myself mostly. Working at TUMO, I get to work with so many different people and feel helpful in a broader way and I like that.”
All this only goes to make TUMO Studios a program that Zeron feels a strong connection with. “It’s great that this program is here to teach the next generation. A lot of times you see that young people are more interested in digital methods instead of working with their hands. Those digital methods are great, and at least this way they can learn the basics and complement what they learn with the digital skills they have.”
Zeron may cede the benefits of molding the digital with the analog, but in the end, his heart remains with the analog. “Man has always worked with his hands. You can make something cleaner, faster and more precise using digital tools, but whatever man has created thus far, whether its drawings, sculptures or architecture, it’s remembered, their traces still evident. There’s a spirit inside the things man has built with his hands and that’s just not there with the digital.”