This week meet Elise Newman, one of six jewellers currently part of the SNEAK exhibition in our window space, enCOUNTER. Elise is a recent graduate from NMIT's jewellery course and she'll also be participating at the upcoming Craft Hatch @ SLV market on Saturday 19 December. Exciting stuff indeed!
SNEAK is on until Sunday, 6 December.
Tell us a bit about yourself... what prompted you to study jewellery at NMIT?
I grew up in Melbourne and studied Video & Radio Production straight out of high school. I didn't end up working in video but I did volunteer at community radio station for about 8-and-a-half years (music is my favourite thing after jewellery)! Overseas was calling to me in my early 20s and I answered it. I did the thing lots of Australians do and lived and worked in London for almost two years. I had started to do a bit of jewellery with beads before I left and when I was overseas, I missed it so much I bought myself a pair of pliers and found bead stores in Soho and kept making jewellery. I came home from London a little bit lost and just started working full-time. Seeing no way out of admin I decided to go back to study. I applied for Industrial Design at Swinburne and was shocked when I got in! I learnt pretty quickly that that wasn't the course for me there was so much drawing and math and not enough hands on making things.
One night when I was supposed to be working on a design project, I found myself going through my jewellery collection instead and thought, “I wish I could learn more about making jewellery.” My friend had been doing Jewellery at NMIT and had told me about about the course and how she used power tools, hammers, saws and that it was very hands on! I decided not to go on with Industrial Design I applied for Jewellery at NMIT. It was the best decision I ever made!
Box garden necklace (part of enCOUNTER exhibition SNEAK)
A few works in progress
What has been your favourite or most personal thing that you've made to date?
I think that my most personal thing that I’ve made to date would have to be my work bench! I made it from an old desk from the op shop over the summer of 2008-09 in my very hot shed out the back of my house. Three friends from school (Alex Bletsas, Milly Flemming & Tara Lofhelm) and I decided to get a studio space together in Brunswick. After looking around at benches which were all out of my price range I decided to make my own (pictured below). Yes it has a very "I made it myself" look, but I love it! It is made for my height and has lots of draws and hidey places I can store my mess.
What have been some of the challenges you’ve encountered through jewellery that you weren’t expecting in the beginning?
The biggest challenge I have encountered doing jewellery would have to be working out how to survive and make enough money so I can just do jewellery and not have to work as well. It's the question that we all ask ourselves in the studio, and so far we haven't come up with an answer yet. All four of us work retail and spend as much time as we can in the studio.
Elise, Tara, Milly and Alex's studio in Brunswick
The soldering bay
Could you please tell us about the last exhibition you saw that really inspired you?
My favourite place in the world would have to be the Rothko Room at the Tate Modern in London. There are 15 paintings by Rothko in the room and long couches in front of some of them. I could sit there for days staring at those amazing paintings of deep reds and maroons. The design of the room creates an atmosphere that suits the moods of the paintings. They are abstract paintings so you can really sit there and create your own story for each painting. It's been about 5 years since I’ve been there but i still get chills when I think of my favourite painting Red on Maroon (pictured below).
What other skills would you like to learn?
There are many, many things on my list of things to lean, but at the moment I would like to learn how to do stone setting, so far I have attempted to bezel set but I would love to learn more about grain setting and claw setting. What is one thing you can’t live without?Without a doubt i would have to say I can't live with moisturising hand cream! I ALWAYS have hand cream on me and use it every time I wash my hands. When making jewellery, my hands are always dirty or calloused and my nails are filed off at odd angles. It's not just a vain thing, the worst sound I can think of is two dry hands been rubbed together, it’s worse than nails on a blackboard! I'm sure I’ve got some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder with hand cream.
I also couldn't live without my drill (pictured below)! I think it was the most expensive item that I have bought in a long time, but it was worth every cent. I use it every time I’m in the studio; it's so quiet and just sits on the desk, so you don't need to install it on a pole. The only thing is that I now have an obsession with buying drill bits!