Tag Archives: contemporary jewellery

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: Yuko Fujita (contemporary jeweller)

Yuko Fujita is a contemporary jeweller from Melbourne. Her new show at e.g.etal is a collection crafted from found wooden objects into amazing pieces on a surprising scale. I went behind the scenes with Yuko from her Mt Waverly community woodworkshop in the lead up to KODAMA (return to me).

In this new collection you have used found wooden objects combined with silver and gold. What inspired the concept for your solo exhibition KODAMA (return to me)?
I am attracted to natural materials such as paper, cotton, wood, silk, wool and leather. I see individual, unique character and warmth in those materials. I think they become more attractive when they are dented, stained, wonky, discoloured, stretched and scratched because it gives me a feeling of their life and history.

I see many wooden objects that have passed their prime or have fallen out of use, having been replaced by our ever-changing consumer society. I still see the life in these objects and thought that I can give new life to them again.

The title Kodama has double meaning in Japanese. One means “tree spirits” and the other meaning is “echo” (sound refection). It is said that the reason you hear echo in the forest is that the spirits of tree is responding the sound you made.

My process for the work in KODAMA (return to me) was like communicating with these existing materials. I see the objects and they respond to me through their shape, color and texture to bring form to each item. I transform them into imaginary plants, creatures, and habitats which they may have belonged to somewhere in the past.

Describe your workspace. Do you work alone or with other people?
I have a basic studio at home but most of wooden items were crafted in the wood club I joined called the Mount Waverley Wood Workers Inc. I became a member in order to learn the woodwork skills I needed to realise the work and to access larger machinery. The workshop is full of skilled and enthusiastic woodworkers of all ages. They are very helpful and have much knowledge to pass on. I also like listening to their conversation during coffee break; it is quite a different experience for me!

What path led you to contemporary jewellery?
I began with a degree in Japanese literature in Tokyo then I came to Australia to study jewellery. First I studied NMIT and later completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (gold and silversmithing) at RMIT. I found jewellery quite similar to literature in the respect I went from using words to tell a story to using materials and visual language instead.

I learn a lot from my cats such as being patient, amused by small things and playing in imaginary worlds, which I think help me to work as a contemporary jeweller.

Where do you turn for inspiration?
Materials, shapes and colours inspire me. I would say I am more inspired by elements rather than artwork or artists. I like doodling which often accidentally inspires me.

What next for Yuko? Will we continue to see wood in your work?
I have been enjoying working with wood and would like to develop my woodwork skills further. I think you can expect to see more wood and metal combinations from me in the future.

KODAMA (return to me) is open from 14-31 July as part of the State of Design Look.Stop.Shop program.
Opening night: Thursday 15 July, 6p-8pm, RSVP flinders@egetal.com.au
167 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.

Interview Me: Melissa Cameron (contemporary jeweller)

Last week I interviewed Melissa Cameron for contemporary jewellery gallery e.g.etal. Melissa is an interior architect turned contemporary jeweller making in Melbourne. I visited her unusual studio space, a lovely little artist collective in an old Victorian house in St Kilda, that she shares with artist Mary-Lou Pavlovic and four other sculptors and painters.