Tomoyo Hiraiwa

When you’re someone who putters away making jewellery in relative isolation, with bits and pieces in varying stages of completion gathering dust around you, makers like Tomoyo Hiraiwa are part of a different realm of skill and possibility.

Graduating from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music with a degree in Art Education Hiraiwa studied Tankin there, an ancient hammering technique originally developed in Japan somewhere between 300 BC and 300 AD. Divided into 4 techniques, it’s traditionally used to produce various metal finishes on swords, helmets, lanterns, plates and of course Hiraiwa’s stunning jewellery.

Piece/ Untitled, 2012 Silver 950, Aluminum, Anodize 80x90x30mm; 40x30x25mm Brooch & Ring

I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine having the patience to anneal and hammer a piece of metal for longer than 2 or 3 minutes, and I certainly don’t possess that crucial connection between brain, hand and tool that results in the fluidity of Hiraiwa’s pieces.

You can find out more about Tomoyo Hiraiwa on her website or on instagram here. (Psst. she hasn’t posted anything there yet though).

Bracelet/ Untitled Silver 950 120x120x50mm
Ring/ Untitled Oxidized silver 950 50x45x38mm; 45x38x33mm

“Living peacefully is proof of the existence and my theme. While feeling the scent of breezes the time……”

“I prefer the beauty of simplicity and the dynamic potential of my chosen material.  I hope the softness and strength and my design speak an international language of beauty and Organic / Hybrid”.

via Klimt02

Marian Hosking – Fragments of the Landscape

Worn Gum Brooch, 2017. Blackened Silver
“I am not so interested in a pictorial space, but rather in capturing a slice or
fragment of a larger whole to trigger a memory in the viewer of a larger
vista or place.”
Marian Hosking via Docplayer

I think of Marian Hosking as both a jeweller and master recorder of the native plant and landscape material of Australia. Rather than pressing flowers and leaves into dusty books or copying them as sketches into some leather-bound journal she’s spent 40 years recreating their unique beauty in silver, wood and other materials.

Growing up in the bush and near the beach with her conservationist mother and metallurgist father you might say that Hosking was destined for the life she’s led. She knew in high school that she wanted to study gold and silversmithing and in 1969 graduated from RMIT (Master of Arts) before travelling to Europe where she continued her studies in the jewellers’ mecca of Pforzheim, Germany. Four years later she would return to the town of Wagga Wagga in Australia to teach at the university there. And in 1975, on returning to Melbourne she opened her own studio.  Some 5 years after that she would became a director and founding member of Workshop 3000 located in the heart of the city, a place where jewellers could rent studio space and collaborate. 4 years later and with the birth of her 2nd child she would return to her solo studio.

Her contributions to craft in Australia were recognized in 2007 when the Australian Design Centre named her a ‘Living Treasure of Australia, Master of Australian Craft’.  And as if that wasn’t good enough she obtained a PhD at Monash University in 2009 where she was a Senior Lecturer in the Art, Design and Architecture department there until 2014.

Soooo, if you ever find yourself in Melbourne (and I hope you do one day) you’ll find this maker’s work represented at Gallery Funaki. Failing that there’s always her profile on Instagram here…when she decides to post something 😉

Gum Caps Brooch
Wrap Rings (Ongoing Edition). Sterling Silver and Blackened Sterling Silver
Detail: Gum Twig Chain
Wattle Bud Necklace, 2009. Blackened Silver
Weathered Wood, 2017. Wood, Paint, Silver
Coralline, 2015. Blackened Silver

Caroline Blackburn

There’s something inviting about the bubbled crusty surfaces of Caroline Blackburn’s pottery. Rustic and minimal, it could very easily have been unearthed on a dig, an archeologist’s brush revealing its’ beautiful glazed secrets. A native of Los Angeles Blackburn studied Art History and Studio Arts at Boston College, earning a MFA at the Art Centre College of Design, Pasadena. It’s interesting to note that she initially trained as a painter; that skill translated from canvas to clay surface…

#446 11.5″H x 7.5″W. Clay, Stoneware -High Fire
#466 19.5″H x 11″W, #465 20.5″H x 12″W
#454 16″H x 7″W
#467 16″H x 11″W

I love her work! Find out more about this maker on her website here and on instagram here.

Gilda Midani

I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have a soft spot for clothing, especially when it’s hand made from natural fibres…linen, cotton and wool. It has a lovely rawness to it compared to all those fast fashion ‘made-in-china’ clothes stuffed onto racks at any big box retailer. And yes, I know natural textiles are hard on the ol’ wallet but a $10 t-shirt also comes at a cost that’s often less visible; in human and environmental terms.

Now, as someone who spends 98% of the week in jeans, t-shirts and sweaters I can only dream of owning pieces by Gilda Midani. From her website…

‘I strongly believe that comfort makes the body peaceful. And that elegance and beauty are the natural outgrowth of that feeling. Our pieces are made entirely by hand, many loving hands, for a single purpose: to make you feel as free as possible’

‘I’ve always sought inspiration in folk and primitive cultures, in utilitarian garments of modern times. Much more than in the world of fashion, which I respect and admire, but it’s not where I belong. Materials are cottons, linens, silks, woven, in all their different forms, textures and threads; sometimes even synthetics, just for fun. I focus on varying the scale, the proportions, and the finishing of those basic forms which I consider insuperable, and above all working the textile with the most exquisite manual techniques, from the primitive beeswax batik to the ancient shibori of Japan, with pigments ranging from the traditional plant-based to silicone, plaster and even iron oxide. The only rules are to maintain quality, guarantee comfort and create beauty. To achieve this, anything goes!’

Midani’s path to making clothes is a meandering one that spans decades beginning in the 90’s when when she designed costumes for theatre and opera. Photography and set design also shaped that path and in 2014 she launched her first clothing collection.

This ain’t rocket science I know but I’d rather support a maker like Midani if it means limiting the thousands of pounds of t-shirts and jeans churned out every year by invisible owners of poorly ventilated factories and the hundreds of kilometres of shipping required to fill those overstuffed racks at Joe Fresh (see the silent costs of the shipping industry here). As challenging as it is I’d rather support hand-made when possible. And oh my, those hands are what make her clothing worth it…

You can find out more about this talented maker on her website here or follow her on Instagram here.

Gilda Midani. Photo courtesy of Murilo Meirelles / JP Magazine

Pippin Drysdale

Landscape as Muse

We’re well into the first week of March and it’s snowing outside. Such a pain, but that may explain why I’m drawn to the work of Pippin Drysdale today. It seems to be reaching through my computer screen here; I can almost feel the warmth of those rounded forms on my fingers.

Installation: Flowering Time. Porcelain, closed forms

Australian-born Drysdale has been making her beautiful ceramic pieces for decades but if it weren’t for several events early on in her life she might not have stumbled across clay at all. Born into a wealthy family in the oh-so-leafy suburb of Toorak in Melbourne she’s said to have developed a rebellious streak in childhood due to an undiagnosed vision problem that was later corrected at age 12. Later, moving with her family to Western Australia and following high school she would go on to being expelled from business college and failing all subjects at technical college. The business world’s loss and humanity’s gain I’d say. A series of short term jobs in Australia and the UK and a year of travel in Europe ended with her returning to Australia in the early 1960s and a 5 year marriage that ended in 1972. So, where do the ceramics come in I hear you ask. I’m getting to that.

In the early 1970s Drysdale started ‘Pip’s Flowers’ in Melbourne selling her own handmade paper flowers. I suppose it didn’t last because she soon returned to Western Australia, starting a business selling fresh herbs that would eventually be sold across Western Australia (take that business college) and where she commissioned a potter to produce clay vessels to hold the herbs. And that ladies and gentlemen is where she was introduced to the intriguing world of clay. The potter became a friend and built a kiln for her in her back yard where she started making her very own small pots and goblets (I wonder if she still has any of those first pieces). Talk about a circuitous path to finding one’s raison d’etre, and proving that you don’t necessarily need to succeed in grade school or business college to succeed in life.

Driven by her growing passion she obtained an Advanced Diploma in Ceramics from Perth Technical College in Western Australia in 1981 and later completed a study/work tour of Italy and the US in 1982. Three years later she obtained her Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art) from Curtin University in Western Australia and in 1997 was selected to be a Research Fellow at the School of Art, Curtin University of Technology. I’m thinking her grade school teachers would’ve been surprised that she would go on to be awarded with both a Master of Australian Craft in 2007 and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 from Artsource.

Drysdale is inspired by the astounding hues, forms and vastness of her homeland and other remote places across the globe…

Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), Northern Territory, Australia. Photo courtesy of

‘She draws inspiration from the colours and textures of landscape, and her emotional interpretations of place and space are injected into each of her pieces. Pippin focuses in particular on the vast, diverse Australian landscape and has created series based around the patterns and colours of the Pilbara region, the eastern Goldfields, the Kimberley, and the Tanami Desert. She has also travelled overseas to draw inspiration from the dips and peaks of Pakistan, India, Russia and Italy’ (via: The Government of Western Australia).

Check out her website where she’s happy to share her wealth of experience about techniques and look for her on Instagram here. Lovely.

Devils Marbles I-III. Porcelain, closed forms. W110cm x D40cm
Shepherd’s Delight, 2015

Seedpod Burst, 2018

Elad Guterman

First off, let me apologize for the tiny jpegs in this post. I stumbled across the work of Elad Guterman today but it seems all the images I’ve found online from his website are in webpage format (which I don’t have the smarts to alter). So be aware that this is a small sampling of his portfolio and that I highly recommend checking out both his website and his instagram feed.

Born in Israeli and currently living on a kibbutz in the northern part of that country Guterman graduated from the Tel Hai Arts Institute, Jewellery. He collects his raw materials mostly from his work and home environments and describes some of his process here…

‘Everything around me, everything that is thrown, broken, spoiled, rusted, is raw material for me, I start with clay, the material is the first inspiration, now what does it remind me’

‘A shelf from tin turns into trees, scraps of iron become flowers, houses look like an old wooden surface turns into wings – the process by which ostensibly waste becomes an aesthetic concept and takes on a different meaning, personal and emotional’

I don’t know about you but I have only a vague idea about what life is like on a kibbutz (which means ‘gathering’) so I did a little research and found this via

‘A kibbutz is a type of settlement which is unique to Israel. A collective community, traditionally based on agriculture, the first kibbutz was called Deganya and was founded by pioneers in 1910. Today, there are over 270 kibbutzim in Israel and they have diversified greatly since their agricultural beginnings with many now privatized. Regardless of their status, the kibbutz offers a unique insight into Israeli society, and are fascinating places to visit’.

Of course it’d take more than a blog post to delve into the complexities of all that Israel is today but I’m guessing that the first zionists wanting to settle there encountered a lot of hardship in turning previously inhospitable land into agriculturally thriving communities (not that all kibbutzim are strickly agriculture-based these days). They had to start from scratch. I sense that same ethos in Guterman’s work. It’s raw and hand-produced from whatever materials he can source. Waste is given new purpose. I particularly love his casting setup which you can see on his website. Unlike moi who complains bitterly about having to drive 40 kms. to get my stuff cast by a company in Vancouver, this maker has built his own forge/form equipment; just way more basic and immediate and therefore cooler. Check him out.

Castings in Aluminum

Ring VIII. Silver, Reused Wood

Detail: Wall Sculpture. Metal & Iron Waste

Canteen IV. Alpacca, Rubber. 54x22x15
Table, Wood. 2013. 25x58x28, 46x40x25, 64x30x25
Necklace. Silver, Alpaqua, Copper

Karen Vanmol

Let’s be honest here…who likes laminate; the low budget, plastic and ugly imposter of natural materials like stone or wood that’s used for furniture and countertops? How about laminate as a material for jewellery? And how about jewellery that doesn’t rely solely on the intensive mining of gemstones and precious metals? Welcome to the world of maker Karen Vanmol.

Inspired by architecture and nature Vanmol designs using traditional techniques like hinging, threading and sawing to create her graphically bold pieces. And she’s fascinated with paradolia – the psychological phenomenon that describes how we humans try to make sense of random stimuli or patterns – if you’ve ever gazed at a cloud in the sky and decided it looks like a horse or a flower or whatever, or seen a face when you look at the moon, then you’ve experienced paradolia.

Necklace: AKA#ISEEFACES, 2018. Wood, Laminate, Blackened Silver, Cotton Thread

She describes some of her process here…

‘Protecting or imitating nature, the use of natural materials in architecture, the restoring of a road surface, accidental strong shapes on a construction site, these things I find very interesting.

On my way through town, I hunt and collect. I always encounter interesting images that I use as an inspiration. In addition, there is a certain choice of materials and colours, these are strongly influenced by memories. For example the necklaces, furniture in different colours, certain constructions. I have my story and the viewer projects its own story on top of mine.

I always start from my sources of inspiration, with these eyes I look around me. Next to that I make jewellery and I like to use my tools and try out how materials reacts to them. Eventually I work with materials, and that provides an additional factor. I find out the properties they possess and how I can edit them and this will count in the final result. Some techniques I use are common and you can find them in your house’. (via Klimt02)

I’m loving the intensity of her pieces, the colours, the shapes, the clean lines AND the fact that she’s able to use a material like laminate (so it stays off countertops). You can find out more about Karen on her website or Instagram.

Earrings : Koloro Gemo Collection
2 Finger Ring
Necklace : AKA#ISEEFACES, 2017. Wood, Laminate, Patinated Silver
Necklace : Fading Landscapes, 2011. Wood, Paint, Gold Leaf, Brass, Cotton

Ring : Under Construction, 2010. Wood, Concrete, Paint, Cotton, Silver

Jorge Manilla

3 Oscure Sacrifices, 2015. Necklace, Leather, Tumbag

I wonder how many parents (with the best intentions) redirect their children from a career in art. And how many children grow up and eventually find their way back to it anyway. As a teenager Jorge Manilla wanted to be an artist like his father and grandfather (both were traditionally trained goldsmiths and engravers). But when the 15 year old told his mother he wanted to become a sculptor she threatened to kick him out of the house if he didn’t focus on a real career…like boxing (a prestigious national sport in his native Mexico).

“That was the moment of one of the biggest decisions in my life, and with it I decided to go completely into boxing and work for a sculptor. And this saved my life in every way. Boxing gave me discipline and structure and a clear mind to decide the next step in my life.” (via: Oslo National Academy of Arts)

Several years later and in need of extra cash Manilla was thinking of leaving boxing and began doing modelling for drawing classes at the San Carlos Art Academy in Mexico City. It was there that he decided to study drawing and sculpture (1994-1997) and later jewellery and silversmithing at the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA), Mexico City, Mexico (1998-2002). He would go on to obtain a Bachelors degree in Sculpture (2002-2003) at the Royal Academy of Arts in Ghent, Belgium and a Masters in Jewellery and Silversmithing (2003-2006) from St Lucas University College of Art and Design in Antwerp. He moved to Belgium in 2003 lives and is currently working on his PhD at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp.

As a non-expert in the field of jewellery I experience an underlying uneasiness when I look at Manilla’s work, something that both disturbs and invites at the same time. Blackened, bulging and mammalian in a weird way, but oh sooo tactile. But he explains what that’s about…

My central themes are human feelings, death and life. Each piece is like a small altar – physiological, emotional and religious. I like to translate this into materials. Mexicans are very bodily – we say hello, kiss, hug and touch hands. To me, touching is very important, and I am really into natural material, like leather, wood, stones and human bones, because they are related to my cultural past, and the materials have tactility, temperature and heaviness.”  (via: Oslo National Academy of Arts)

I highly recommend checking out Manilla’s website here where you’ll see the full breadth of his work and get a peak into why he does what he does. Pretty amazing.

Without Title, 2008. Necklace. Cardboard, Silver, Cotton Thread
Polvo de Amor Quebrado, 2011. ‘Please Do Not Take My Heart’. Necklace. Leather, Wood, Cotton Thread, Copper

4 Oscure Sacrifices. Necklace. Leather, Wood, Acryl Hars, Steel
Impossible to Imagine II, 2015. Leather, Steel, Wood, Silver
Bled, Jorge Manilla Navarrete, Schmuck, 2017

Detail: Bled, Jorge Manilla Navarrete, Schmuck, 2017
There Is Nothing To Be Afraid Of, 2016. ‘Some Moments To Remember’ Brooch. Wood, Casted Acrylic Gypsum, Brass

Ariel Lavian

There’s something almost post-apocalyptic about Ariel Lavian’s work, a suggestion that nature, left to it’s own devices will eventually break down any memory left by humans. Very intriguing.

‘My design is influenced by the raw materials surrounding me. I create new worlds from the limited resources and finds tremendous wealth in the soil, the rotting logs, wasp’s nest, branches of the trees, broken objects, old plastic bags, it can be anything. I refer to the material and not to the object, study it, understand its properties and use it to create small but complete scenes of staged nature, ex-wild. I believe that through design – as a tool – I can make a change, make a difference, affect people.’

Lavian obtained a B.F.A. at the Academy of Art and Design in Fashion and Jewellery at Bezalel (2008-2012) and a Masters Degree in Industrial Design at the Academy of Art and Design there (2014-2016).

Check out his website here or his Instagram here.

Brooch – Deformation as an Object – between a straight and a rounded line, 2018. Copper, Various Patinas

Neckpiece – Hansen Disease. Deformation as an Object, 2016. Copper, Various Patinas

Brooch – Plasdeath Tree, 2018. branches, Plastic Bag, Mockingjay Skull, Spider, Sand

Paul Cocksedge Studio

Being somewhat of a bender of silver I find things made of metal eye-catching. That might explain why I found this image from Paul Cocksedge Studio so captivating. It shows a gently curving thousand pounds of rolled steel balanced, like a sheet of paper captured the moment it touches a horizontal plane and just before it slides out of reach (if you still use paper you’ll know how it can sometimes get away from you…if you’ve ever dropped a sheet I mean) ). So how does unyielding steel bend like that? According to Cocksedge ‘Poised’ is the result of ‘intensive series of calculations regarding gravity, mass, and equilibrium’. I bet it took some heat too.

‘Poised’, 2013. Paul Cocksedge Studio / Friedman Benda Gallery

To explore these and other projects check out Paul Cocksedge Studio. You can also find them on Instagram here.

‘Compression Sofa’, 2016. For Moooi – Milan Design Week
Rhythm Shelf, 2015. For Greenstein Lab Library, Seattle

Rhythm Shelf, 2015. For Greenstein Lab Library, Seattle