Sylvia Watson of Tic Tic Boom Design lives in Auckland with her musician husband and two hilarious pets. She works full time as a music teacher and part time as a jeweller – some days it’s the other way around! She has two shops on Felt, Tic Tic Boom, totally handmade jewellery from the initial design to a high polished finish, and A Little Lady, showcasing her kit-set jewellery in a lower price range.
What do you make? Handmade jewellery and wearable objects.
How did you get into your craft?
Like many Felt sellers I have always been a creator or maker. I have to make things to be happy, it’s just how I’m hard wired. When I was a small child I would spend most of my days painting or drawing.
My grandfather was a commercial artist from the 1930s to 1960s, for Four Square and Farmers. He also owned an art school and supply shop on Hobson Street in Auckland City (where the Sky Tower is now). When he passed away and the shop closed down my mother was left with a lot of art supplies, which she brought home. So I grew up with a garage filled with amazing supplies, oil paints, beautiful water colours, wood cutting tools, etching boards and much more.
As I grew my interests became more diverse: I delved into clothing design, furniture restoration and soft toys, but about eight years ago I was asked to accompany a friend to a jewellery night class and I was hooked. My obsession grew from there.
Is this your only job?
No, jewellery supplements my income as a music teacher. Music teaching is very noisy and quickly drains your energy but it is exciting being around such talented and creative people. Creating jewellery is a quiet, time-consuming activity; it requires a great deal of patience and thought. I find it really relaxing and meditative. Both jobs compliment each other well.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I am self- and workshop-taught. I learned the basics by attending night classes at a place called Workshop 6 in Kingsland, Auckland. I still go back for the occasional session, just to learn new tricks or use equipment that I don’t have, like their expensive rolling mill!
I have also attended the occasional Brian Adam workshop (not the singer!). He and his wife are contemporary jewellers who open their studio up to students of all levels and abilities.
Other than that I use the internet, books and trial and error a lot! For me making jewellery is not just about the final product but the creative challenge, research and process of making something that communicates your visual intent. I am formally trained as a music teacher; I have a Master of Education (Hon). I guess the academic side of me likes the investigative approach to learning. I don’t really want to be told how to do something, I would rather find out for myself. I end up making lots of mistakes along the way – but you also learn to create creatively, if that makes sense?
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I go through phases of material obsession; recently it was brass, now it’s wood and perspex. I work with precious and semi-precious metals – gold, silver, bronze and brass – and I often incorporate found objects into my work, for example smashed safety glass from bus shelters. I use a lot of resin too, either cast in silicone or free poured.
I still use old measuring tools that my grandfather used in his work. When you are cutting up metal you are essentially cutting up bullion so getting the measurement right is important.
What inspires you?
Architecture, modernist design, patterns in nature. I am really intrigued with strong lines, shapes and colours.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I guess my philosophy is “is it possible?” So I count every sale as a precious evaluation of that question. I am very grateful that people like my ideas so much they are willing to pay for it!
Describe your workspace:
Looks really messy… it is actually messy but I know where everything is, as long as my husband doesn’t move anything!
At the start of the year I moved my workshop from the basement to a designated room! I am slowly finding a place for everything but it has all I need and I am so grateful to have a studio space at home.
Five words that describe your mind: Creative, eager, full, thoughtful, and individualistic.
Your favorite feedback from a customer: “Love, love, love” was really encouraging to hear.
What are you currently listening to?
Haim, Robyn and Rudimental mixed up on a playlist but I also listen to a lot of audio books while I am working. At the moment it is Hard Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World by Haruki Murakami.
Your favorite childhood book
The Canoe in the Mist by Elise Locke. I still get shivers seeing Lake Tarawera!
Your hero/heroine: The jeweller Margaret de Patta.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, a beautiful tortoise shell cat called Maplesyurp and a curious West Highland Terrier dog called Toughy.
If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
An alchemist called Goldfinger.
What was the last handmade item you bought?
Beautiful greenstone cabochons from Christchurch. They will soon be turned into rings and brooches!
Check out all the beautiful handcrafted jewellery created by Sylvia at her Felt shop Tic Tic Boom.
Sylvia has very generously offered to give one lucky Felt blog reader a pair of her stunning brass and black resin earrings. To be in to win this Tic Tic Boom original, leave a comment below telling us what inspires you about Sylvia’s work and her story. The draw will be made on Friday 15 November and is open to New Zealand residents only.