I design and create my jewellery pieces in my home based studio in Brisbane. It is a small space filled with light from its large windows and crammed with benches, tools and equipment. As much as my cats would like to take up residence and share the space with me it is way too dangerous a place for them to be. My design process starts with a sketch in my visual diary annotated with ideas for texture and the stones that will be used in the design. The work then progresses to cutting, filing and shaping metal and using fabrication techniques like soldering to join pieces of metal together at very high temperatures. Metal is textured with hammers and other tools. It is a painstaking process which requires an eye for detail, a steady hand and a bit of a perfectionist streak. I use sustainable practices in my studio recycling metals and utilising non-toxic alternatives to the chemicals usually used in silversmithing.
Over time a silversmith accumulates a lot of off-cuts. Silver is a precious metal and too expensive to throw away. A jeweller can send their scrap metal to a recycling business or they can recycle the silver themselves by melting the silver and forming it into new shapes. I have created a new range of "pebble" necklaces which feature a solid organic "pebble" of silver which has a bail attached to it which is then strung onto a sterling silver chain. Every "pebble" is unique and the melting process creates a different shape every time the process occurs. Upcycling of reuseable materials is also featured in a new range of pendant necklaces which feature repurposed tiles that have been cut and shaped on lapidary wheels, sealed and surrounded by sterling silver. I wanted to reuse as much as I could from found and reusable materials as part of a consciously sustainable practice of my jewellery design. - Joanne Rutherford