Julia Marin hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She came here travelling seven years ago and fell in love with New Zealand, the people and a more laid back way of living. She soon decided to change the city life in Buenos Aires for a more relaxed existence in beautiful Piha, near the Waitakere Ranges.
Designing and making jewellery is Julia’s passion. The themes of her jewellery mix traditional techniques and styles learned in Argentina with the experiences of her New Zealand life and the inspiration of New Zealand flora and fauna.
What do you make?
I design and hand make custom jewellery in silver and gold, delicately crafted in traditional jewellery techniques – from my work bench to you!
How did you get into your craft?
I am not quite sure to be honest… I’ve always been interested in creative activities, from sewing and knitting to ceramics, drawing and painting. My mum and dad are both artists and I guess since I’ve always been around “the making of things” I fell into it while looking for ways of expressing myself, but I am not completely sure! All I know is that it started over ten years ago…
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I studied fashion design at university in Buenos Aires (where I am originally from) and I studied traditional jewellery techniques at the National Jewellers Association, in Buenos Aires as well. In New Zealand I trained in stone setting.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Silver and gold are my favourite materials and I buy them from New Zealand’s most trusted silver and gold bullion retailer, which is warranty of good stuff! Whenever I incorporate copper or brass in my designs, it is recycled piping or scrap metal from old building materials. (I love doing little hunts for hidden treasures!)
My favourite process is hand making from scratch. Hammering, sawing, soldering, using my hands along with my tools, bending and curving the metals, creating a piece from zero.
What inspires you?
Anything can inspire me. Sometimes is a particular situation or a life experience I am going through; sometimes is all the beautiful things around. It could be anything, although I would confidently venture to say that being active is the most inspiring thing, the more you make the most creative you become and ideas just flow. You no longer have to look for them, because they come to you.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I am not sure really, I would say that maybe more than a “philosophy” there is an “idea” behind my work, that is more like the essence of what I make. I think in my case it has to do with simplicity, femininity, minimalism and passion for creativity. I think a little bit of all these things can be seen in all my pieces.
Describe your workspace:
I have a little studio room at home in Piha, where I live. In it I have my work bench with all my tools. I have some images on the walls and more tools, plants and books as well as my sewing machine. Piles of fabric and boxes with metal, work in process everywhere.
Five words that describe your mind:
Restless and a bit complicated.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
The feedback from customers is one of the most rewarding things about being a maker. Any feedback is always very encouraging.
What are you currently listening to?
Kool And The Gang, I am feeling funky!
What are you reading now?
A book about Yoga.
Who is your hero/heroine?
Anyone that is humble and does things for others without expecting something back is a “hero” or someone I‘d admire for sure. Currently I feel mind-blown by the Sea Shepherd volunteers risking their lives fighting for animal rights.
A favourite quote:
“No dejes para mañana lo que puedes hacer hoy.” It means “Don’t leave it for tomorrow if you can do it today.” It motivates me when I am feeling not very active!
If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I would love to be able to turn things into metal with a wiggle of my nose, haha! I‘d be Silverella.
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
Mmmm, this is a hard one because 90% of my purchases are either handmade things or op-shop finds. I can’t remember but it was probably a card Illustrated by my friend Eloise White (Crafty Love Studio), or a stamp from Sandra Waine. Both incredibly creative and talented!
Julia is currently working towards an exhibition exploring New Zealand native flowers, together with Eloise White of Crafty Love Studio. The exhibition will be held at the West Coast Gallery in Piha in December. And she’s just featured on TVNZ’s latest episode of Neighbourhood (series 4, episode 2), about folk from all over the world who call New Zealand home (Julia’s interview starts at 15:30).
Julia has also very kindly offered a prize for one lucky Felt blog reader: a gorgeous sterling silver little triangle knuckle ring worth $50 (below). To win this sweet ring, leave a comment telling us what you like about Julia’s story and her silverwork. The draw will be made on Friday 27 March and is open to New Zealand residents only.