Currently in the midst of preparing work for several exhibitions around the country, Ingrid Schloemer of Silverworks is not only a talented artist herself, but has also taught her craft to hundreds of students. Based in Havelock North, she runs courses in jewellery making, using precious metal clay.
What do you make?
I create one-off jewellery pieces from my stone carvings and more recently from precious metal clay (I work with “Art Clay Silver”). Since 2006 I have been teaching silver jewellery classes to more than 500 students of all ages. Simple tools and a very forgiving medium make it possible for anyone even without previous experience to make original pure silver jewellery!
How did you get into your craft?
Already as a young teenager I sold beaded necklaces to earn a bit of extra money, but it occupied more of my time when I learnt how to carve stone after coming to New Zealand.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Professionally I am a handcraft teacher, the training involved all sorts of techniques. The stone carving I learnt here in New Zealand from a very talented man; the training to become a certified instructor for the jewellery making I received in Auckland from Anne-Marie Grace of Art Clay NZ.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite materials are greenstone in all its varieties and precious metal clay. Tools I would not do without when I work with silver clay: a moisturising pen which is a brush that has a water-filled tummy and the agate burnisher which is used to polish the silver pieces after the firing. But the most important and precious tools are certainly my hands, I find it most amazing what they can do!
Favourite process? This has to be the magic transformation from silver clay to finished pure silver jewellery piece! Only when you have gone through the process you will understand that working with silver clay is quite addictive – I could do it all day!
What inspires you?
A cloud formation or a leaf curled up or the sun shining on something creating an interesting shadow, anything like that can bring about a new design. For silver jewellery ideas also come up while I draw different shapes, often I get an idea for another shape or texture or combination while working with the silver.
For my carvings it seems to be different; a piece of stone sometimes sits there for a while in front of me before I get an idea for it. The stone tells me then what it wants to become. And the final shape evolves while I am carving away form the original state of the piece.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Can one say jewellery has got “Feng Shui”? Then this is what I want to achieve. Recently I have read the book The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight into Beauty. Wabi Sabi, the Japanese view of beauty, is the subject – simplicity of design and its influence on the craft movement.
Describe your workspace:
Yes, since March I have the luxury of my very own workroom! It has a well-lit table which provides space for a group of four students. The dogs love to be there with me, they change their sleeping places with the wandering sun. There are shelves with boxes where stamps and moulds and tools live. I am well-known at a local shoe shop now! Their boxes have all the same colour, some have a flower print which looks really neat and helps with finding contents.
To get started with a project I need a tidy area and everything in order. Once I get going it can become quite cluttered though. Then there are tools and bits and pieces everywhere. But it reaches a stage where I have to clear the table, making space for fresh ideas to come in and to keep the process flowing. This change between chaos and tabula rasa is happening quite often at the moment as I am preparing for three exhibitions.
What are you currently listening to?
Usually I need a quiet surrounding to be able to be creative. But once I have completed the rough design work I listen to talking books or music from a CD which was compiled for us by our kids; other favourites at the moment are the Norwegian Ulf Storbekk, Nora Jones, and Mary Black.
My mum. For everything she taught me in regards to making the most of what you have, cooking beautiful meals from simple ingredients and sharing her life skills. My dad, for his painting and drawing and poetry skills and his wonderful sense of humour and quiet support.
Your favourite childhood book?
I can remember two books, first a book with a silvery grey cover, inside along the bottom of the landscape-format pages square frames with changing images, e.g. a pear became an apple became a teapot became an elephant… I was fascinated by that book and have unsuccessfully tried to find this book later on for my children.
The other book which I found very impressive was a bound collection of magazines for young school children with beautiful black and white prints and vignettes, it belonged to my mum and was her first reader during the war.
What are you reading now?
I am too busy to sit down and enjoy a good read, but I search our libraries for design books of all kinds (interior design, patchwork, knitting, polymer clay and jewellery of course) soaking up anything about colour and shape. Ah, and I look for practical books, e.g. How to raise the perfect dog.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, they seem to be replacement therapy for us as parents… three dogs of various sizes, ages and temperaments are crowding our space!
A favourite quote:
“Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.” Sign hanging in Einstein’s office in Princeton.
If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?
No single colour would fit, the hues in the paua shell come to mind.
Ingrid is a guest artist at the Annual Exhibition of the Ashburton Society of Arts from 21 June till 9 July. A number of her pieces will also be at the Waiheke Community Art Gallery for “Winter’s Jewels” (16 July to 8 August) and at the Taupo Museum from 31 July until 15 August for “In Transition: Canvas, Clay and Jewellery”, where she’ll also be teaching workshops. And of course, you can check out Ingrid’s shop, Silverworks, here on Felt!