West Coast jeweller Adele Stewart’s delight in flowers began as soon as she was aware of them in her infancy. By the time she was three years old, she was amazing her Mum’s friends by giving them a personal tour of the garden and telling them all the names of the flowers. That child-like enthusiasm for flowers hasn’t faded for Adele – in fact, it has intertwined with another passion: making.
What do you make?
Individually shaped and enamelled sterling silver flower jewellery. No solder or glue, just sterling silver and glass (melted enamel powder and glass beads).
How did you get into your craft?
I just love making intricate stuff. Flowers and their details bring me great joy. So it was natural to play around with how to make flowers that you could wear and would last.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I did a three year apprenticeship in gemstone setting which is not directly related but has given me the fine motor skills and technical know how of fitting forms together.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I love my files, smoothing off silver is so satisfying. The enamelling process amazes me how glass can bond to silver with heat.
Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your jewellery pieces:
Saw, file, form and heat.
The heat is the most fascinating, I put the silver component onto a mandrel and get it red hot, but not too hot or the enamel will not be bright. Not hot enough and the enamel will not stick to the silver. Then I dip the silver into the glass enamel powder before it cools down, then back to the flame to repeat two, three or four more times.
What inspires you?
Flower details, getting up close and studying them. When you look close, there are so many details and patterns. Go and check one out some time…
Flowers and their details bring me great joy. So it was natural to play around with how to make flowers that you could wear and would last.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Slow down and appreciate the little things in life, the simple pleasures.
Describe your creative process:
Trial and error. I used to think I could learn from others mistakes, but I reckon you learn way more in depth when you personally make the mistake.
Describe your workspace:
A rabbit warren!
Five words that describe your mind:
Playful, natural, cheerful, grateful, compassionate.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“Wearing them makes me feel the lovely thoughts of spring all year round.”
What are you currently listening to?
“On Being,” a podcast by Krista Tippett.
Recommend an album:
Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughan: In Session – such beautiful rapport between them.
What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
Autumn Story by Jill Barklem. I’m such a homebody. I remember the emotions the book gave me; that comfort feeling of stocking up the cellar for winter, the last bit of warmth at the end of summer. The cozy home with the shelves up to the ceiling all packed with home preserves. The homemade quilt on the bed. The autumn harvest drying up in the ceiling…
What are you reading now?
The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka.
Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
Krista Tippett. She has an absolute golden heart and brings so much insight into the art of living compassionately.
Tell us about your pets:
I have seasonal pets, wild and temporary. At the moment, there are swallows circling around sharing the shed studio with me. Last week I had two sweet little waxeyes quietly chirping away in the loft on a plastic Christmas tree. In the morning and evenings, keas come to make sure the house is in good order…
What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Limitations are a perfect excuse for creativity.
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A most inspirational, soulful artwork by a powerful artist Vashti Johnstone.
What’s in store for 2018?
Considering having flower jewellery making classes…
Adele Stewart has very kindly offered a stunning prize for one lucky Felt reader of this beautiful, delicate bluebell necklace (see above). Adele is always looking for inspiration for what to make next, so to be in to win, simply leave a comment telling us and Adele what you enjoyed about her story and what your favourite flower is – and why!
The draw closes at 5pm on Friday 1 December and is open to New Zealand residents only.