Category Archives: Jeweller

Interview Me: Jeweller Jan Logan

Caitlin StaseyJan Logan’s approach to jewellery design is much like the woman herself, elegant and refined with an international influence. Her work has been widely accepted as setting a standard in simple design without sacrificing craftsmanship. Now with her son Angus on board, Jan Logan looks to the future with an expansion into Asia and an exciting affiliation with the Australian Film Institute.

I do believe my country life has given me a more grounded approach to business. I was born in Narrabri in North Western NSW. My early life was lived through my imagination playing dress-up, rifling through my mother’s jewellery box and attending movies at the Saturday matinee. My passion for adornment and design kicked in early!

My path to jewellery design was serendipitous – a confluence of fortunate events. After raising three sons, I took a job with the Narrabri Chamber of Commerce. World travel ensued, where I started buying antique jewellery in London and stones in the East. My jewellery career began in earnest when I started designing jewellery after entering into partnership with a local Narrabri jeweller. Then in 1989, after a move to Sydney, the first store in Double Bay was opened.

Jan LoganI hope what sets us apart is our philosophy. Simple and elegant but with a bohemian edge. I design with a certain type of woman in mind, a dynamic modern woman who uses jewellery as a daily accessory. Our trend in jewellery design has remained fairly consistent – designs with a fashion influence, simplicity, elegance and attention to detail with superb craftsmanship. This criterion applies to our engagement rings in particular.

As Managing Director, my son Angus oversees the running of the business. Angus returned to Sydney in 1996 with an international influence. He saw potential in the business and expanded the brand to Melbourne, Hong Kong and Perth. Further expansion into the Asian market is planned for 2012, as well as growth of the online store.

I’ve always loved fashion, jewellery and cinema. I remember the stars of the time more than the actual films! I loved Jeanette MacDonald, Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire.  We like to support Australian Film because we believe it’s important to our culture.

It was a natural affiliation for us to become involved with the Australian Film Institute. We support up and coming Australian talent by featuring young actresses in our yearly catalogue as the face of Jan Logan. The first was Rose Byrne then emerging stars such as Rachael Taylor, Maeve Dermody, Adelaide Clemens and Teresa Palmer have also been onboard. Most recently we have featured Melbourne girl, Caitlin Stasey.

Visit Jan Logan’s Melbourne flagship store at 90 Collins Street, Melbourne.

Images courtesy Jan Logan


Interview Me: William Griffiths (jeweller)

Interview by Stephanie Williams at e.g.etal

Tell me a little about your background and how you got to where you are today?
I haven’t done any formal training. I didn’t really like school very much and after failing all my exams I went back to do them again. I saw a job advertised in the paper, to make jewellery, and I thought ‘I will give that a go’. I started the job and was a bit disappointed because it was basically standing at a machine making wedding rings all day. I did trade work for about 15 years, in workshops, being a patternmaker and repairs. Then I’ve gone off on my own little tangent making my own designs.

I was born in England and we went to New Zealand when I was five years old. I spent most of my life there. My Mum was a painter and my Dad was a crazy inventor, so I have been brought up in this artistic sort of thing.

If I really look back, I started making little bits of jewellery when I was seven years old. I remember making a ring for Mum with this stone glued on top of it. Getting a bit of metal and bending it around. Mum’s still got the ring, so I was thinking of one day having a retrospective exhibition and showing that.

I can’t say I’m self-taught because I have been taught by some pretty amazing people. When I was 18 I went to London and got a job in Hatton Garden in the jewellery district. It teaches you a lot of precision and tricks of the trade which I still use.

How would you describe your work? The work at e.g.etal is inspired by tattoo art. I have always had a thing about tattoo parlours, even though I have no tattoos myself. I like the artwork. I like sacred heart stuff. Even though I wasn’t brought up religious, my parents were religious. There were always pictures of religious iconography around the house. I have always liked tattoo art, which often goes into the religious iconography side of it.

What about the range in your workshop? Do you find the pieces in e.g.etal are different to there? Yes it is. I tried some of the big cathedral type rings at e.g.etal and they didn’t sell. They were quite out there but that’s what I really like making, stuff that is out there. If I didn’t have to make money, I would sit there and make the most out there, unsellable stuff!

I had an exhibition with Julia de Ville last year and I made these taxidermy type things. That was a bit of an experiment. I’m really good at mechanical things, my Dad was an inventor.  I used to make all these mechanical things with gears. So I made all these little things of mice where you turn the handle and the mice turn around and it plays Swan Lake and opens the curtains. Like a diorama, made to look like it’s old. I’d like to do an exhibition of the cathedral type stuff, but it’s quite a niche market. Most of my big pieces are in LA at the moment.

What techniques do you use to make your pieces? It’s a mixture of making a masterplan, making a mould of it and then you’ve got the wax. Reworking the wax with a wax pen and then casting that. It’s mainly fabricate but I would usually make a mould of that then put the components together.

Is each piece unique? Yes, each piece is put together in a different combination. In their own way they are one offs even though I have moulds. Sometimes there are ten different components in one piece.

Do you find you have a celebrity following? I have sold to a lot of celebs. The last person that bought something was Russell Brand. He bought earrings for Katy Perry, some gold chandeliers with diamonds on them. I’ve also sold to Marilyn Manson, Angelina Jolie and Billy Idol.

What common themes link each of your designs? The tattoo art and medieval ranges are at e.g.etal. I try to make my medieval pieces look all hand beaten and stuff, using rubies and diamonds. I also like using unusual cut stones. The Melbourne stone buyers aren’t going to buy stones that are too weird, so I like buying old, rose cut stones from overseas. I usually go over to the gem shows in Bangkok and Hong Kong.

What do you think has informed that style? Has it evolved over time or has it always been a part of your style? I have been through lots of different stages. I have always been obsessed with sailing ships. A lot of tattoo art is based around sailing ships and sailors have tattoos.

Is your creative process ordered or organic? It’s not ordered! It’s organic. I have ideas and pictures in my head. Sometimes I’ve got a catalogue of moulds that I have made over the years running through my head. Sometimes it’s a whole lot of pieces of wax sitting in a tray and I think, that looks good next to that. It’s almost an accident that it goes together.

In a way it’s ordered, it’s not all haphazard. Quite often I will make a piece or even or one component of a piece that I can add to a whole lot of pieces. The hearts and daggers at e.g.etal, for instance, I’ve got moulds of the hearts and moulds of the daggers and I can rearrange them however I want. I do cast most of my work and casting has got a bit of a bad reputation, but I do always make my own master patterns.

Do you do a lot of research outside of your making or does it seep in naturally? I guess it seeps in naturally. I do a fair bit of travelling. I like to go to places in Europe and look at architecture. I just take it in really. Architecture is a big favourite, you know with all the cathedrals and things. Just even going to somewhere like Florence. Everything is beautiful – the door handles are beautiful, every little detail they make, they put beauty in it.  I travel at least once a year, sometimes twice a year.

What have been some of your favourite special projects, exhibitions or collaborations you have been involved with? The taxidermy exhibition curated by Julia DeVille, A Deus ex Machina. I used to do a lot but I haven’t done any exhibitions for quite a while. I did some in Bologna too, with HR Giger.  It’s a different world for me, such a different style from where I am now.

I’ve collaborated with fashion designers as well. I’ve helped out with Alexander McQueen’s shows and shoemaker Terri de Havilland. He’s a good friend of mine, I stay with him when I go to London, we drink wine and talk about shoe design! With Alexander McQueen we made this human skeleton with a spine cast in aluminium. It had hinges down the side of the ribs and clamped onto the model’s back.

Dolce & Gabbana have used my stuff in one of their shows, and Vivienne Westwood. That’s a weird one though. Her jeweller actually ripped one of my designs off. Pretty blatantly! It was a big skull ring of mine and they covered it with little sparkly stones. I thought that was quite good, like taking the piss out of skull rings. It was about 15 years ago. In fact when I was in London Last time, I met up with two friends, one of them had one of my original rings on and one had the Vivienne Westwood copy. Her jeweller probably didn’t tell her!

Do you work alone or do you share your creative space? I’ve got two people who do half the week each. I do all the design and they help with the production.

How do you stay connected to the wider creative community in Melbourne and overseas? I don’t know really, I just do my own thing. I always like to go to exhibitions and use the internet to see what people are doing. One of my favourites is this guy called Sevan Bicacki, he’s a Turkish guy in Istanbul and makes these crazy diamond encrusted rings. I have my own blog but I have personally never written anything on it!

I imagine if blogging doesn’t come naturally to you, it would be hard to have your jewellery hat on then move into blogging, PR etc? I find the computer keeps me away from my bench. I sometimes get annoyed with the computer for making me sit there and write emails to people. I do really want to learn how do to 3D design on the computer though. I’m going to give it a go.

And internationally? I look in the shops I like. There’s a shop in LA called Maxfield. I always go in there and have a look. Last time I was in London I had a look in Liberty and Dover Street Market.

Where do you find your creative inspiration? Is it ever formal? Sometimes I will just go to the library and sit and look at pictures. I actually find I’m most inspired when I’m travelling and jetlagged. I wake up at 3 in the morning; the TV’s crap and I get out some paper and start drawing. I find my mind is just racing, I can’t get enough ideas on the paper. That’s one reason why I like travelling, I get productive. Sometimes it takes me years to pull out the pad with the drawings and make the stuff. My mind just goes crazy.

Which designers, artists or creative people do you admire? New Zealand jeweller Tony Williams, Simon Baigent from Monsalvat, Turkish jeweller Sevan Bicacki and Rene Lalique

What would be your dream project? I would like to make the cathedral pieces – big diamonds, crazy stones and have no limit on the amount of money I could spend. I worked for this guy in London. I have a photograph of me holding this diamond, it’s about the size of a 20c piece worth about ¼ million pounds. I made a bracelet, earrings, ring, necklace set. It was all 18ct gold covered in diamonds, even the chain had diamonds all the way around the back. It’s quite amazing being given a pile of stones and pile of gold and a picture to make this piece. My other dream project would be making a jewel encrusted 24-piece dinner set.

Outside of jewellery what do you enjoy doing? I enjoy doing metal work in the form of blacksmithing and I like camping around Melbourne, going to the Grampians. I also play music; I play drums in a band sometimes. Playing the music, I get to go to festivals and things like that. I used to play punk when I was eighteen then into rock, now it’s a bit folkier. Music isn’t my passion, jewellery is my passion. At one point I was asked to make a decision between music or jewellery. I was in this band in London and we got a record deal. My drumming wasn’t really up to scratch. The guy said I would have to practice more, which means I would have to either take music seriously or forget about it. I made a decision to forget about the music. The band went through some other drummers and ended up splitting up. I sold my drum kit and said I would never play the drums again. It wasn’t until a friend of mine said their band needed a drummer. I hadn’t played for ten years, but I would fill in for this gig. I started about seven years ago. I would go traveling to sell my jewellery but also do a bit of a ‘world tour’ playing little bars and festivals. Now it’s just once every two months

Interview Me: Katherine Bowman (contemporary jeweller)

Katherine Bowman is an accomplished Melbourne contemporary jeweller, painter and sculptor and this year is celebrating ten years of representation with e.g.etal. Always so considered and layered, Katherine’s pieces have delighted our clients over the years with many becoming avid collectors of her beautiful work. We were also lucky enough to have Katherine curate our beautiful Christmas installation, The Magical Cycle of Days. You can see pictures here, or pop into e.g.etal before Christmas.

Tell me a little about your background and what led you to what you are doing now? I started making jewellery when I was a child. It started off by using tools in my Dad’s garage. I pulled apart an old television and started making with wire. I had very rudimentary skills so I applied for Gold and Silversmithing after school and I never got in. But I was accepted into Melbourne University doing a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Fine Art History. I kept making during that time and travelled. I decided I still wanted to do Gold and Silversmithing at RMIT as I felt I had gone as far as I could teaching myself and I wanted a formal education in it so I applied again for the course and got it.

How would you describe your work? There must be a sense of touch and tactility to my work and that’s why I seek out more organic textures. I think that sense of touch allows people to make their own stories with the work or about the work. I think that’s the whole point of making, to have a response from a person.

Are there any particular stones or metals you like to use? I predominantly use silver and gold. I have a preference for Australian parti sapphires, because I know where they come from and how they have been mined. I think gold is a very beautiful material. It has a lustre that I can achieve with that metal that I don’t see as much in other metals. So my love of gold is not it’s monetary value but the inherent properties of the metal itself.

What common themes link each of your designs? I think I reference fabric a lot in my work. My maker’s mark is the warp and weft of fabric. The warp is the threads running down and the weft is what makes up fabric. It’s based on a notion by cultural theorist Trinh T. Minh-Ha, she talks about ‘to weave is to speak’ so a culture’s identity can often be understood by their textiles and how they wear and adorn their jewellery and clothing. I think it’s very interesting to work with metal which is a hard material, but through the casting process I can make it appear soft and more tactile. That is a theme that runs through everything I do with jewellery.

All my pieces are handmade and reflect a philosophy of the handmade. I manipulate every single wax, so it has something different to it. Everything is considered.

Your work feels almost ancient, like an archaeological find. What has informed that part of your style? Again I think that is a really big part of why I make jewellery. When I was studying at RMIT, Robert Baines said to me that I had perfected the ‘wonky’. At first I thought that’s terrible but then, for me, it became a very strong part of my aesthetic. It is based on two things. I did a doll-making workshop with Mirka Mora, 20 years ago. I learnt from Mirka that if everything is the same you don’t see any individual components. If you have two cups hanging in your cupboard and they are different, you will see the shape of one against the other but if they are the same you don’t even pause to see that it is a row of cups.

For me, there’s something beautiful about ancient jewellery because it has been handmade and hasn’t come through a specific manufacturing process. When something is made by hand you see the marks of the tools and if you carve a ring by hand it’s never perfect, but that is perfection in itself. I try and make something new look like it’s old, like it has an energy and life of it’s own that came through it’s own creation. That is very important to me.

There’s so much jewellery in the world, but there’s only one me. The jewellery I make comes from everything that I know. Hopefully the end result carries some of that. It needs to look old and like it’s lived through the process of it’s making.

Is your creative process ordered or organic? I suppose it’s organic ordered! It’s very much both. I think because I have been doing this for a while now. Now when I make I just work.  I don’t have to psyche myself up, it just happens. But if I am doing something that is important, I have to sit down and read, then I draw, with whatever I do – painting, jewellery, sculpture.

Everything I do comes from a thought process. I think very deeply about things.  I collect lots of images, and I put them into sketchbooks. I draw the images and then work out what is important about them. It’s very ordered. But in the same breath, I make without thinking.

When I make it’s very important that I don’t labour too much. That allows me to capture these forms that look quick and easy, like a child. I try really hard when I make to be really present with the material.

It’s the way I teach as well. You have to be present. Look at what you have made and see what it is saying to you. It’s like learning from what happens rather than saying ‘it has to look like this’.

I come from an academic background and my friend Nick said to me many years ago, what are you trying to say, and say it as simply as possible. I was referencing all these things then I thought I have to find my own voice. I do that with material too.

What have been some of your favourite special exhibitions, projects or collaborations you have been involved in? For me, the work I produced for my Master of Arts, my Black work, was very special. It’s the biggest body of work I have ever produced. It really allowed me to explore scale and subject in a bigger way. My exhibition of paintings is special to me because I am self taught. That body of work I love! It was shown at the Warrnambool Art Gallery and in Melbourne.

My jewellery business has taught me lots of things. Often people say I am compromising myself by doing production jewellery because I come from an art background but I feel like it has really allowed me to see things in a different way. If I can make a wedding ring well and someone wants to wear that for the rest of their life, then that’s a big achievement for me and as significant as doing an art exhibition. I see it as an important part of what I do.

Do you work alone or share your creative space? I share it with Millie.

How do you stay connected to the wider creative community in Melbourne and internationally? I stay connected through my peers, who are also my friends. Also by reading and looking at different blogs and magazines. I buy a lot of magazines – World of Interiors, Freize and Paris Vogue are my favourites. With blogs I always visit You Have Been Here Sometime and my favourite blog is a woman in Paris called Katherine Willis. She is a painter and sculptor and does installation work. I look at her blog every day. She links to Crashingly Beautiful. I always find myself looking at The Sartorialist. He has a lovely eye. But what I like is that he photographs all these obviously wealthy people but then he will see someone more ‘normal’ and they capture something for him and he includes them in the same breath as someone who is a fashion editor etc.

Where do you find your creative inspiration and is it a formal process? There are two ways. The first one is by reading, I find it very visual. As I said before, I start by researching then drawing. I have done this for 20 years and I can’t seem to shake that! The other way is that I love walking. That’s a very informal way of creating installation work, it’s a big part of my creative process. I start my day by walking or if I am stuck I go for a walk. I never listen to music when I walk but I am interested in birds. I like to hear bird calls. I am getting better at identifying them. It’s nice to let the world in and not to dictate all the time what you are listening to. I like to hear the trees moving and incidental sounds. It makes you realise the world is large.

Which designers, artists or creative people do you admire? Louise Bourgeois, has consistently inspired me since I first saw her work. Also Kiki Smith, another American artist. I have found her inspirational for years. She is a mixed media artist – printmaking, sculpture, painting. Louise works in a similar way. I find both of their practices inspiring. I love the painter Marlene Dumas. I love ancient Roman jewellery. When I went to the Louvre, I spent all my time in the Egyptian section, pre-Cycladic art and early work from Afghanistan. I find that as inspiring as almost anything else.

What would be your dream project? My dream is to exhibit every year or two and spend a year working towards that. I am considering doing a PhD and explore through storytelling through objects and the importance of narrative in art. Art is about people and communication and life – asking why do I do what I do, how do these objects inform not only each other but where they are positioned within the culture I live in. My dream project is to push myself to explore concepts that will hopefully inspire new work. If I can do that, then I feel like that’s where I want to be.

Outside contemporary jewellery what do you enjoy doing? I love live music. I love my friends. We have lots of dinner parties and spend much time getting the ingredients then cooking together. love the sea and any chance I can, I have been going with a friend down to Joanna Beach. And walking. I go to parks where I can walk Millie. I have a pretty simple life. For coffee I go to A Minor Place on Albion Street. I often plan my day there before I ride into the city. It’s my local. I have been going to the beer garden at Jimmy Watson’s with my friends and I also like Boire on Smith Street, it’s really good.

Interview Me: Jane Dodd (contemporary jeweller)

New Zealand contemporary jewellery artist, Jane Dodd’s work is characterised by gothic combinations of sculpted animal and human forms and heraldic devices. Jane is new to e.g.etal, so we were keen to talk in her Dunedin studio about her background, inspiration and her bass playing band days.

Tell me a little about your background – what path led you to what you’re doing now? I grew up in Dunedin, New Zealand and although I studied art at high school, I didn’t at the time consider it a potential path.  I completed a BA at the University of Otago, played in rock n roll bands, had a variety of jobs, did a bit of travel and generally misbehaved.  During some months in Mexico in 1989, I witnessed art and craft permeating life in a manner new to me and was encouraged to similarly engage with my own surroundings.  On my return to NZ, I applied to study for a Diploma in Craft Design at Unitec in Auckland, originally thinking that ceramics would be my discipline, but was soon seduced into the jewellery department.  I graduated in 1994.  Since then I have been a partner of Workshop 6, a shared jewellery workshop in Auckland, and exhibiting around NZ, Australia and occasionally further afield.  In 2009, I returned to live in Dunedin again and built a studio in my new home.

How would you describe your work? I work in a largely figurative style – negotiating a few separate but over-lapping lines of enquiry.  Often my work has a story telling aspect.  I consider myself a metal smith but have recently used wood, shell and stone to bring more scale, texture, colour and plasticity to my work.  My work, whilst I hope it is innovative and novel, would hardly be described as modern.

What common themes link each of your designs?
Memory and myth, history and culture, landscape and life forms, associations and emotions.  I like to make work that resonates in quite a personal but non-specific way with the audience.  I am pleased if pieces have a familiarity but also a strangeness.

Your work feels very natural yet mystical? Is your creative process ordered or organic? In recent work it is definitely organic.  I will usually have vague ideas about a new piece but know that specifics about it can’t be resolved until I see it emerging in the flesh before me.  Pieces can be constructed, only to be pulled apart, rearranged, added to others.  My gut increasingly makes the decisions – I trust it more than my head and it wastes a lot less time.  Earlier work was more planned, often sketched, but still a tendency to make spontaneous changes existed.

What have been some favourite special projects, exhibitions or collaborations you’ve been involved in? Some of the best fun I have had in terms of exhibitions and projects have been those done collaboratively with Workshop 6.  Our Tin Years (10 year anniversary) show was a very entertaining process and the results quite funny. We have always worked well as a group.

I also especially enjoyed making the exhibition Straw into Gold in 2002, and publishing the accompanying book of fairy tales illustrated by jewellery.  This was a Creative New Zealand funded project.

Do you work alone or share your creative space? I work alone at the moment.  I am enjoying it – quite a change from the 16 years of cacophony at Workshop 6.  But I find I need to temper it with plenty of extra-mural activities; coffee with friends, scouting the auction houses, hardware stores and demo yards, yoga, expeditions to wildernesses, museums, galleries etc.  With the help of such distractions I hope to keep loneliness and madness at bay.

How do you stay connected to the wider creative community in New Zealand and internationally?
I don’t make a lot of effort to be connected beyond my own immediate community.  I occasionally look at a few websites, some magazines and keep in touch with colleagues in the usual manners but I wouldn’t say I pursued it.  Kind people keep me posted on news and events even though I don’t really deserve it. I don’t mind being in a bit of a vacuum – too much information can sometimes stifle my activity.

Where do you find your creative inspiration? Is this ever a formal process?
The whole wide world!  I enjoy the chase of an idea and tend to do quite a bit of formative research.  I look at a lot of books (not especially jewellery but art, architecture, science, history, botany, zoology….), I take photos and somehow filter the visual stimulus.  I gather images that interest and attract me.  I doodle.  But it’s not a formal process – more a roller-coaster ride.

Which designers, artists or creative people do you admire?
I admire a lot of jewellers – my old workshop mates Octavia Cook (hilarious and astonishing pieces) and Anna Wallis (clever technique and sharp eye) have inspired me greatly.  Robert Baines makes me cry, David Bielander makes me laugh. Carl Faberge, Daniel Kruger, Helen Britton, Karl Fritsch, Sandra Bushby, Warwick Freeman.  I know its old-school but I really love painting, especially landscapes; Corot, Friedlander, Constable’s cloud and Turner’s seas, Manet, Degas, Hopper but could also mention local contemporary painters Gerda Leenards, John Walsh and Bill Hammond.  I was blown away by Fiona Hall’s grand show Force Field.  Her virtuosity and inventiveness is gob-smacking. I also really go for folk art and outsider art and draw much strength from how pleasing and compelling things can be even when they are loose and not quite “right”.

What would be your dream project?
Truthfully, to be given a big wad of money to spend on my own house and garden. How selfish is that?!

Jane Dodd’s new range is available now at e.g.etal.

Interview Me: Jeweller Emma Jane Donald (contemporary jeweller)

Emma Jane Donald, a contemporary jeweller from Melbourne, recently invited me to her home studio to talk about her latest work and inspiration. The very fun interview was helped along by George her lively puppy and some great gluten free ginger cookies. Thanks Emma Jane!

Tell me about your background and what led you to jewellery design? It started at high school where I studied sculpture and art subjects. I studied sculpture as part of a Fine Arts degree at Elam, the Auckland University Art School in New Zealand. I specialised in sculpture, but not in a traditional sculptural way, more about installation and performance.

My interest in jewellery really began when I moved to Australia and met William Griffiths, a New Zealand jeweller making in Melbourne. He said to me, come and see if you like making jewellery and hang out. I hadn’t really thought about jewellery until I met him. I ended up just mucking around in his studio making my own things. My first piece was something really instant – a safety pin pressed into cuttlefish with molten metal poured into it. I was chuffed, and thought ‘this is the best thing ever!’ I felt quite inspired by William’s work and I enjoyed working with him so much that I decided to study Jewellery Engineering at NMIT.

How would you describe your work? I’m inspired by geometric patterns, formations, structures and architecture. I think I started doing angular, sharp work because I wanted to test myself technically. Geometric shapes can be trickier than making round organic shapes. Because my course was a trade course, we made hinges and very precise things. I wanted to prove that I could do those technical objects and now I have ended up doing hinges in my work.

The NMIT course is so different to the RMIT course. It’s a trade focused course, for instance we would spend 3 weeks making hinges. I chose the course for that reason. I had already done fine arts degree so I wanted to just get down and get some skills.

What common themes link each of your designs? I suppose it’s the whole geometric thing, similarities of the forms. I’m trying to incorporate spheres into my work so it’s not all sharp and aggressive. It’s tricky to make the angular stuff spherical, especially with the geodesic shapes. I want to start using more stones but at the moment I work just with metal.

Is your creative process ordered or organic? Ordered. I’m not organic at all. Making a cone or dome becomes a personal challenge, then I will start joining them together to make a necklace, bracelet or pendant. Quite often I will make something that starts off as one shape, like a geometric shape, then I will start multiplying the shape to become much larger.

When you start a piece do you think ‘this is going to be a necklace’ or does it evolve? Sometimes it’s pretty definite – at the moment I’m trying to make smaller pieces. I find it harder to make smaller pieces. Even though I make geometric shapes, I’m pretty rough and ready. Once I have an idea I want to get it out!

Do you work alone or do you share your creative space? I work alone. It means I can work more effectively when I want to. It can get a bit lonely. Sometimes you can wear your pyjamas all day and not leave the house.

How do you stay connected to the wider creative community in Melbourne and internationally? The Internet, I go to exhibitions and I’m friends with a few Melbourne jewellers – William Griffiths and Julia de Ville and Katherine Bowman. Internationally, I don’t have much of a connection with New Zealand jewellers because I didn’t make jewellery there.

I’m just as much interested in video art, noise and sound. It informs my jewellery work. A little while ago I saw this work in an architectural magazine that was big, black and folded, and I liked it.

Sometimes it comes from other sources. It doesn’t have to be in your field. Sometimes it’s just a really good song. I’m really into Siouxsie and the Banshees at the moment. I listen to music when I work, otherwise it’s quite boring, especially when you are by yourself. Once I have an idea I might cut out the music, or if I am having trouble working out something mathematical. When I’m doing production stuff, the louder the better!!

Where do you find your creative inspiration? It’s haphazard. If I did know where to go for inspiration, that would be awesome! I would go straight there. I think it just happens in bouts. I have bouts of heaps of inspiration and will just flow on from there and hopefully ride the wave until I get another bout.

Which designers, artists or creative people do you admire? I definitely like Buckminster Fuller, he’s awesome. I love the way he builds with geometric shapes. It draws on nature and cellular growth, how things are reproduced in life. Using multiples of geometric shapes to make a mass.  Simon Cottrell is another favourite – I really like the way his work is constructed. His pieces seem to grow in an organic pattern, while still retaining an affiliation with the materials he uses. I like the juxtaposition of hard clean materials and the softer rhythmic references in his work.

What would be your dream project? I would like to make jewellery for the Pope. You could make some really awesome geometric crosses with heaps of jewels and gold. Everyone would see it!

What do you enjoy outside of jewellery? I take my dog George for walks but that sounds quite boring! I like to go out and listen to music. Music is a big part of my life. My boyfriend is a sound engineer and he’s really into it. I think it can really change the way you feel about things, which is very cool.

What advice would you give to emerging contemporary jewellery artists? When I first started I made really big pieces and perhaps should have started with smaller pieces. Big pieces are more time consuming and they don’t sell as often. Everyone does it differently, it’s just finding your own practice, finding your own style and discovering how it works for you. I know people who have completed a NEIS course, which sounds really good.

Is it hard to switch hats between being a maker and running a small business? Yes! I’m not good at business but it’s all a learning process. It’s very easy when you are on a creative run and think ‘yeah I’m just going to go for this!’ but you know in the back of your head that it’s not commercial to make really big pieces. But as an artist, it’s really hard to put the idea away once you have had it.

Visit e.g.etal at 167 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, to view Emma Jane Donald’s current collection.

Interview Me: Natalia Milosz-Piekarska (contemporary jeweller)


Natalia Milosz-Piekarska

Natalia in her lightfilled studio


I recently interviewed Melbourne contemporary jeweller Natalia Milosz-Piekarska for e.g.etal. You can read the interview here.