Featured Seller: Brighton Mine

The last few years have been pretty tough for Brighton Mine jewellery designer and artist Fiona McDonald, with her partner suffering a massive stroke less than a year after the birth of their first child, but inspired by her family and wild West Coast surroundings Fiona has risen to the challenge and is unleashing the build up of creative energy that often follows a difficult and traumatic time.

Minty transparent green enamel disc earrrings on forged sterling silver earwires by Brighton Mine

What do you make?
I make jewellery using raw and natural materials, cut stones, metals, enamels and just about anything else that can be worn. I am also a painter, one of the reasons I was drawn to the rugged environment of the West Coast. I sell mainly my jewellery in my Felt shop, but do sell a few cards which are reproductions of some of my paintings.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?

One of my favourite materials is pounamu beach pebbles. They are a rare and precious gift from the ocean, that I very occasionally find. They have been carved by the ocean, traveling up the West Coast over many years. My designs have evolved from a desire to wear these pieces without drilling holes in the forms created by nature. So each piece is unique, and designed to complement the natural form of the stone, there are no two the same.

"After hours of research and practice I am having a fun time with the beauty of melted glass fused onto metal." Fiona McDonald, Brighton Mine

Making jewellery, I enjoy fabricating, forging, casting, etching and enameling.
I began experimenting with enamels, when I got given my dear grandmother’s enameling kiln. After hours of research and practice I am having a fun time with the beauty of melted glass fused onto metal.

Of course it goes without saying for me that painting a work of art is one of my favourite things to do. I like to work in oils and tend to favour landscapes and birds in my work.

Jewellery by Fiona McDonald of Brighton Mine

How did you get into your craft?

I have made things for as long as I can remember. My family home was a hub of creativity, with everything going on, from photography and a darkroom, to a pottery studio, to oil painting or just about anything else you could think of.

My parents manufactured pop top campers in the 1970s and ’80s, and I am quite sure Dad’s love of design and taking an idea to completion has inspired me in my creativity.

I have always been a painter, while I started silversmithing after being inspired by my work as a props maker on the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

What inspires you?

My ever supportive partner and gorgeous son, but also I draw a huge amount of inspiration from the wild and breathtaking environment that I live in.

Fiona's enamel jewellery, inspired by her West Coast surroundings

Is there a philosophy behind your work?

I really just love to create beautiful things with integrity and a view for them to last. I know when they leave my house I have put 100% into the whole product, right down to my completely handmade packaging. My feedback from customers shows me the attention to detail is definitely an important part of the whole experience of receiving handmade goods.

Describe your workspace:
My workspace is in my home (which is ideal with a young child). I have a studio set up in my garage space, which is a little chilly in winter, but makes up for it by the astounding view out the window. I feel for my family who put up with a constant takeover of our entire house, with jewellery equipment, paintings, easels, paperwork, stock and all manner of other things it requires to run a business from home.

Fiona at work in her West Coast jewellery studio

Your favourite feedback from a customer:

It’s more about the packaging, but it’s great! “The earrings are lovely (smaller than I thought…but I love them). I’m writing though, to tell you of my deep appreciation for your packaging! The mesh bag, the colouring…all is so perfect. I don’t know what to say, except… Genius. Wow. Thank you for taking the time to be artful, to pay attention to details. The last time I felt this way about opening a package I was unwrapping my Apple computer. You go, girl!”

What are you currently listening to?
Piano Song – Meiko

Do you have any pets?

I’ve always had long haired cats and adore them so much, I also have a goat who keeps our gorse in check, and a brood of black chickens and roosters who seem to be constantly crowing outside my window!

What was the last handmade item you bought?

A pottery piece by local artist Grant Hudson and a handmade laptop cover as a gift.
 Check out more of Fiona’s jewellery and cards in her Felt shop, Brighton Mine, and if you leave a comment for Fiona below, you’ll go in the draw to win a pair of her gorgeous enamel earrings – in the colour of your choice! The draw is open to New Zealand residents only until Friday 28 September.

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47 Responses to “Featured Seller: Brighton Mine”

  1. Sylvia says:

    This is such an inspirational read! A great reminder that beautiful things can come from hard times. I have followed your work for a while now and it is great to get some insight into the thoughts behind the work.
    Love the comments on your work space, I am going to show this to my husband who is lovely enough to put up with my household take over of silver and sand paper!

  2. Carmen says:

    Well done Fiona. Your earrings are beautiful. :-)

  3. Jacki says:

    I adore Fiona’s work and especially love all the enamels she has been doing, the colours are so deep, varied and authentic, well done Fi!!

  4. Nicola says:

    A truly Inspirational story of creativity over adversity. Your earrings are amazing.

  5. Delphine says:

    Beautiful story… and amazing jewellery!

  6. Really amazing art…wow.

  7. Kim says:

    Fiona – so very talented! I love your enamel earrings, all the colours are gorgeous. Love that your parents manufactured good ol’ Pop Tops! :)

  8. Fiona says:

    Thanks everybody for your lovely encouraging feedback. It means a great deal and is hugely appreciated.

  9. Fiona, I love your jewellery and am a big fan of your artwork as well. Thanks for sharing your story, and that customer feedback was spot on! Your packaging is stunning. I’d love a pair of your gorgeous aqua enamel earrings :-) x Gill

  10. Nicola says:

    Another person here that adores Fiona’s work. I have a couple of pairs of her earrings on my wishlist.

  11. Jo says:

    Ooooh these earings are lovely. Really want some of my own.

  12. Clare Lund says:

    Beautiful colours, amazing work, I wish I had your talent!

  13. Ellen says:

    Gorgeous, ethereal, beautiful

  14. Cherie smith says:

    Goodness me they are gorgeous. If I don’t win a pair I will buy some.

  15. Sarah says:

    Wow! Love your creations, such beautiful vibrant colours. What a talent you have :)

  16. Nicola says:

    Your jewellery is truly stunning. It captures the palette of New Zealand beautifully.

  17. Kirstie says:

    Truly beautiful. Going straight to by wish list.

  18. Rose says:

    Totally stunning work, am saving you as one of my favorites. Can’t wait to get some of your beautiful work.

  19. Sarah says:

    Hi Fiona, thanks for sharing some of the stories behind your beautiful creations, you have a true talent. Finding artists like yourself producing exceptional handmade pieces is one of the reasons I adore felt!!

  20. Inez says:

    Incredile jewellery! The ponamu antler necklace is absolutely beautiful, you have a real gift xx

  21. So lovely to find out more about you and your gorgeous work. After treating myself to a pair of your enamel earrings recently, I can truly appreciate your talent!

  22. Juliet says:

    Such beautiful colours that reflect the New Zealand countryside!

  23. Des says:

    Wow Fiona, I love the natural & unique quality of your creations. The minty green disc earrings are my fav!

  24. Anna says:

    Hi Fiona,
    Such beautiful work, I am loving the bronze antler necklace – coveting even! Such a creative family these sisters are!!

  25. ann says:

    amazing work fiona love the website and and what a delicious nephew i have!

  26. Marie says:

    Gorgeous colours on your earrings :)

  27. Jo Hannah says:

    Ive had you on my favourites for a while as I just love your work. Im 42 and never had my ears pierced (well they are quite large!) and am now planning to get them done next week so I can have a pair of your beautiful earings – it will just be difficult deciding what colour to have!

  28. Fiona says:

    Wow, that is a huge compliment, thanks Jo

  29. Lou says:

    What beautiful jewellery, and an inspirational read. I love your idea of using pounamu beach pebbles in their natural form – nature is the greatest artist there is!
    Thanks felt for drawing attention to such a beauty!

  30. Ingrid says:

    The colours of your enamel pieces is soul food for me, so beautiful!

  31. Christie says:

    What a lovely story. Your family home with the dark room and everything else going on sounds like a dream! The colours you use for your earrings are gorgeous.

  32. Shelley Dunn says:

    Really lovely work, would love to own some earrings!

  33. Emma says:

    I have huge respect for jewellers because your craft is so hard! Your work is beautiful and I love the greens.

  34. Yajna Morris says:

    Your story caught my eye as my step Dad has just had a massive stroke. It has been a really awful, stressful time. It’s so hard to come to terms and understand an injury that people can barely see on the outside. We will get through this, we have to. Your jewellery is beautiful.

  35. Sam Ranwell says:

    Love the gorgeous bright colours and design of your earrings. Your story is so inspiring…when a lot of people would just throw their hands up in the air and say ‘why me?’ – you turned your experience into a positive one.

  36. Jill Matthew says:

    Wow, love your work and your inner strength after adversity. Stay inspired :)

  37. Liz says:

    Keep up the good work, Fiona.
    I’m saving up to buy some of your work

  38. debbie says:

    such beautiful work and a very inspiring story. Sometimes when we go through some kind of life changing event it leads us to an unexpected path. All the best and keeping doing what you love.

  39. Alison says:

    Fi, I feel the the raw magic of the coast through your words and exquisite work. Be so proud of the gift you share.

  40. Connor Baker says:

    What an inspiring story. I love how you have changed something that could be negative and turned it into a positive.

    Love love love your work and will be buying some soon!!

  41. Steph says:

    Whenever I wear my gorgeous teal blue earrings I get so many positive comments and they make me happy! You are one of the most special people I know. xx

  42. Nona says:

    Fantastic colours! Very very clever!

  43. Jeanette says:

    I have been lucky enough to live near to Fiona and be part of her life and observe her talent and all that she has achieved in her life both personally and in her art..
    She has an impeccable eye and extremely high standards.
    Her work is amazing.

  44. Janene says:

    Love these green earrings

  45. Rosie says:

    Beautiful earrings Fiona i have been admiring these since you first listed them on Felt! One day i would LOVE to own a pair for my self! Thanks for the insight into your creative life.~

  46. sarah jane tonkin says:

    gorgeous work crafted with so much care and love for the materials…your seaglass pieces will always hold a special place in my heart — I still have the piece of blue glass washed by the west coast and surrounded in silver from years ago: it’s a gem.

  47. Deb says:

    Very very clever, and great to see a young mum producing such wonderful jewellery. Keep up the great work. The enamel earrings are lovely.

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