Fairytale characters and crystal caves: an adventure wrought in silver

Kim Goulding-Piper of Ore and Wander has been building her relationship with crystal and metal since she was a child. Her journey has taken her from beaches and caves, through managing a chain of prestigious crystal shops in the UK, to Aotearoa, where she now sits in her workshop with a view of snow-capped mountains.

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What do you make?
I create jewellery including rings, necklaces, pendants, earrings, bangles, tiaras, ear cuffs, and wands.

How did you get into your craft?
I grew up living on a boat in a new age town, and I think the combination really fostered a love of fossicking on beaches and finding precious rocks. At an early age I would fill my pockets with rocks and hoard my treasure in my room. From there I started to collect crystals and when I was 10 years old my grandmother died leaving me a beautiful smokey quartz necklace. This began my crystal bead collection and at 16 I had my first exhibition in a local gallery.

The same year a crystal shop opened in my home town I knew I had to work there, so I went and asked for a job. They were not hiring at the time but being desperate for the job I asked to be trained so that when a position opened up I would be exactly what they needed. Liking my enthusiasm they hired me straight away and I worked for the Crystals Company for 14 years, becoming part of a wonderful family. I filled many roles within the company and loved every position I held there, especially getting paid to talk to people about crystals all day long!

The company helped me realise my dream by facilitating an apprenticeship with the company goldsmith. From there the fairy-tale began: everyday I would go in to the workshop and fix, tinker with, and create jewellery with the resident goldsmith. It was like entering a crystal cave and working with a dwarf to create glittering treasure.

In this time I also trained in crystal therapy, which I still practice today. After learning my trade I came to New Zealand (9 years ago) and lived in a house truck until meeting my wonderful partner and having my beautiful son.

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Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
My training was intensive and lasted many years, but it was not formal and I have no paper to say I know how to do what I do. I spent many years doing all the silver and many of the gold repairs, along with commissions and designing new ranges, for 21 shops. Dwarfs living in crystal caverns tend to be more focused on practical skills rather than paper ones!

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I love to work with crystals, blending the healing properties to suit people’s needs. This led me to spend lots of time looking at archetypes and stories. Often my work is inspired by the crystal’s properties, people, and more recently stories. There is often a fairy-tale or character behind a finished product.

Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing your jewellery
I try to keep the techniques simple. Once I am in the workshop, taming the ideas in to a few I can stick to is my main focus, then lots of soldering and setting stones (and lots of singing and hopefully no swearing). Next a bit of polishing where everything gets nice and shiny except me, then off to have a nice soak in the bath!

What inspires you?
Most recently I have been inspired by the stories I make up to tell my five year old son every night. We go on fantastical journeys, where anything can happen and we meet incredible characters on the way. I find that some of the characters are still with me in the morning when I go into the workshop. My latest range has no crystals but is infused with the magic of the fairy-tales we share and the things that stir emotions in us.

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Is there a philosophy behind your work?
My philosophy is that jewellery is not just something to match an outfit to, but something that has meaning and can act as a reminder for us to focus on the positive. Whether it is a reminder of the person who gave it to you, the quality that you are trying to work on, or a feeling/character that you love.

Describe your creative process:
Often I dream of what I am going to make next, sometimes the stones seem to know how they want to be set and sometimes the stories find their own way on to the work. I try not to force the work, there are some days where nothing comes and some days where you have so many ideas that you have to thin them out before they overwhelm you. I have often found it difficult to represent my work in one style as there are always so many new ideas that I want to try, so many things that inspire me. I try to catch as many as I can, but for each piece I create at least ten slip through my grasp and float off!

Describe your work space:
My workshop is small but seems big to me after living in boats, house trucks and geodomes. It is a luxury to have a separate room to go to! I try to fill my work space with things that inspire me, remind me of friends and places, or tell me stories. I have a fantastic display cabinet made from an old Singer sewing machine that my wonderful partner made for me as a moving in present.

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oreandwander

I work from home and when the weather is nice I take small sanding and filing jobs out in to the sun with a cup of tea. We live in the middle of nowhere with no neighbours, and stunning views of the mountains and the Port Hills, so it is very relaxing.

Five words that describe your mind:
Dreamlike, excited, holistic, meandering and intuitive.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
One of my customers told me that during the Feb 22 (2011) earthquake in Christchurch, she had to walk through the city centre with her little dog to get out of the city. She told me that she carried the dog in her arms but put her hand over the bangle I had made because all she could think of was how devastated she would be if she lost or damaged it in the chaos. To be up there in importance with someone’s favourite pet in an emergency was very special.

What are you currently listening to?
I listen to lots of different music: mostly tunes that make me feel good, I can sing along to, and have a good story. I love old English folk for the stories, I listen to world music and sing along in a language I don’t know if the song stirs my emotions. I listen to devotional music to calm my soul. I love music that reminds me of people, there really is not a lot that I don’t appreciate.

At night when I tell my son stories they often end with me singing a song to him so I try to introduce him to as many different music styles as I can, I think music is like taste you have to try things and hear things a few times to learn to enjoy them. I also love to listen to BBC Radio plays in my workshop.

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oreandwander

Recommend an album:
One album is too hard! Try new things often and look for the beauty in all of it. I recommend checking out The BBC Archives and trying samples of folk, world, 60s, classical… anything you don’t usually listen to. Expand your horizons!

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
I love to read, so did my Mum and Dad. I could name a hundred books I loved as a child but my favourite was always the one that Mum or Dad was reading to me at the time. I knew if they had a book in their hand I could go and snuggle up on the sofa with them for a long relaxing reading session! My Mum was great at all the voices and I loved hearing my Dad read the Just So Stories so much that I asked him to record them for my son. Mum and I collected the pieces to make the Magic Alphabet Necklace from How the Alphabet Was Made for years. I am still looking for a few letters!

What are you reading now?
Jasper Fforde’s The Well of Lost Plots and Mitch Album’s Tuesdays with Morrie (again). It is one of my favourite books and reminds me of my Mum’s grace, courage and wisdom.

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
My Mum. She worked so hard to make herself into the person she knew her children deserved. She was true to herself and lived with integrity. She made me who I am and that reminds me that I am always good enough.

A favourite quote:
“We are all here because we have more to learn, if we didn’t we wouldn’t need to be here and we would evolve!” – My Mum.

“There used to be giants in the sky who looked after everything but they all died so now the police have to do it.” – My son (at age 4).

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Tell us about your pets:
We have a beautiful cat called Itty Nabibi (Little Black Panther) who is fantastically independent, properly witchy and super snuggly.

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
My super power would be to make all my jewellery able to come alive and tell the stories that inspired them. My name: the Silver Story Singer.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Do what you love.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought a beautiful sculpture from one of my favourite local artists, Blanch Fryer. I brought it for my wonderful partner who works in the circus field and loves all things circus, especially clowns and object manipulation. The sculpture was of a jester juggling, and Blanch had captured the expression so beautifully. I think Blanch may have my super hero skill as I feel that her work is about to come alive and tell me a fantastical story!

What’s in store for the rest of the year, and 2017?
I have no idea! Where is the fun in having it all mapped out? I have a hundred things I want to create, at least two new ranges that I want to get stuck into, and a secret project that I am itching to start. I have the feeling that 2017 is going to be exciting! I have had four delightful years at home with my son, but I am now beginning to refocus my attention on my creative goals and that fills me with a sense of adventure.

 

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