Monday, 29 August 2011

Heidi - architect of urban armor

Remember those kick-butt (literally) boots that Sigourney Weaver wore in Alien?
All metal buckles and leather - the stuff that takes you through the roughest bit of any galaxy - I'd definitely count those as one of my inspirations for Urbanative jewels.
Life may be a struggle but that doesn't mean that one can't defy the daily grind in style. After all, our modern armor of choice consists of our clothing, shoes and jewellery.

My studies began with architecture but finished with a degree in interior design. Add ten years in the fashion industry and my passion for design as an engineering challenge, paired with the exuberance of fashion, was born.
Since I love to get my hands dirty and 'make stuff', my journey took me to Cape Peninsula University of Technology, where I completed a B Tech cum laude in Jewellery Design and Manufacture.

Something that has ever since occupied my mind is the development of an African jewellery design language, or the lack thereof. How is it that Africa is such a great source of inspiration for designers from all over the world yet African inspired images and forms are not valued for their inspiration in our own country?
If excellence, outstanding craftsmanship and passion are indicators of what contemporary African jewellery design has to offer, then South African jewellery designers can positively contribute to the growing appreciation for African design.

I am the resident goldsmith at the Gold of Africa Barbier-Mueller Museum in Cape Town. The African gold artifacts in the museum's collection retain all their original beauty, magic and relevance to this day. To be surrounded by this craftsmanship and beauty reminds me that I belong to a long line of gold workers that have captured people's imaginations for centuries.
If you would like to see more of my work, or are keen to do a jewellery making class at the museum, email me on or visit my website

Monday, 22 August 2011

Jane, naturally

I can't imagine where I'd be today if I had not been born in South Africa and exposed to this amazing nature and big-sky-landscape that still feels to me like a draught of cold water when you are very, very thirsty.
Introductions were made by fabulous excursions with my Dad, a keen bird-photographer and environmentalist (long before it was fashionable), climbing every available tree, spending hours sketching bugs & flowers, or making mice out of an old fur coat. My favorite Christmas present were boxes of coloured pencils and paints, chosen by my artistically talented mother.

The reconnection with the arts came in the form of me attending a hobby class for jewellery making. Attention to detail came easily to me (thanks to a lifelong habit of close observation) and I instantly loved to work with metal. This ancient and intractable material that could be turned into the most delicate shapes and forms, inspired me to take up studies in jewellery manufacturing.

Even though I always wanted to do fine arts, I was equally fascinated by life sciences and chose to do my bachelor of science in Joburg, which lead to a year at the Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban as a research assistant. Here, one of my tasks was to cut up crustaceans and my doubts about research as a career were confirmed. I don't regret the studies though and still find our planet and it's life an infinite source of wonder.

My design lecturer at Technikon Natal (Durban University of Technology today), Chris de Beer, introduced a multidisciplinary approach, and taught me to try to see a thing for what it was, rather than what I had hoped or expected it would be, and encouraged me generally. He also made me aware of how the process of how something is made is reflected in it's appearance, in a similar way to that the beauty of the natural world results from it's evolution and function.

In this day and age where jewellery is often judged by the artificially created value of its components or simply reduced to the materialistic display of wealth, I find it important to reconnect with a wider audience with the concept of the expression of identity through jewellery, both for the manufacturer and for the customer alike. For me it feels quite an honor and it gives me great satisfaction when people really enjoy wearing jewellery that I have made for them.
If you would like to see more of my work, please contact me by email or by phone +27 (0) 83 331 8935.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Frieda loves Namibia

Thanks mom! If you had not been on my case after my matric year and gently pushed me (I think the exact words you used were: "Ok, you have to decide now what you want to do with your future!"), I might not have become a goldsmith.
Growing up on a farm in Namibia was the ultimate inspiration to what would become my passion for life. The endless Namib, the flora and fauna of this vast and beautifully arid landscape leaves me with more than one heart string attached to this amazing country.

After an introduction to jewellery manufacturing in Germany, where I was fortunate to work with Birte Wieda, a fantastic jeweller that did amazing things in her 6 square meter workshop-come-shop, I was ready to pursue my education in jewellery design and manufacture in Schwaebisch-Gmuend, Germany.
Traditionally these studies over three years include the ancient art of manufacturing items (bowls, vessels, goblets, cutlery, etc.), a wide variety of techniques (engraving, granulating, enameling, the setting of stones) as well as putting a big emphasis on the design of jewellery and it's history.

After my studies, I started an apprenticeship in Aachen, Germany, to gain even more in-depth experience. When I finally came to Cape Town in 2004 and opened my studio, it was a dream come true for me. Ever since then I have been involved in a multitude of creative ventures, from organizing events, over teaching jewellery classes, to exhibiting my work in South Africa and Namibia.
To be able to create a piece or artwork that exists only to be enjoyed and appreciated, as well as to inspire, gives me great pleasure.

I like to keep an open mind and find artistic challenges that inspire me moving forward. People that have inspired me on my journey so far are the Namibian sculptor Dörte Berner, South African artist Judy Woodborne (whose etching class inspired my designs), Jugendstil's Kolo Moser and 'Die Wiener Werkstaette", as well as a textile course with South African-based German artist Nadja Bossmann.
Come and visit me in my workshop/showroom in 30 Roodebloem Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, or get in touch by email:

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Giselle's fact file

When my dad asked me one day what I would like for my birthday I replied enthusiastically "A drill daddy, a drill!" Instead of a Mercedes Benz as in the Janis Joplin song. He was taken aback and bemused but granted me my wish, eager to see what I would do with it. I guess being married to my mom, a passionate artist herself, who recently asked him for a printing press for her birthday, had prepared him for this rather special request.

My journey started on the academic side with time spend at Stellenbosch University and UCT on fine arts studies. I soon realized that this was not the approach that I had in mind for myself. I was looking for a more hands-on-approach as well as the opportunity to learn about the business side of being a manufacturing jeweller. I had finally arrived at the place where my journey into jewellery took shape, direction and grew wings, when Michael Cope, an exceptional jeweller and designer, accepted me as an apprentice. And learn I did.
Thrown into the deep end with no pay and big ambition. From the offset he guided, mentored, inspired and taught me, involving and including me in exhibitions and the running of a jewellery business from a very young age. I was still not convinced though that I could make a secure enough living out of jewellery alone, so adjacent to my apprenticeship I continued with my BA through UNISA. I finished my apprenticeship and successfully passed my trade test. Now it was time for me to stand on my own two feet.

However, I knew that my education in jewellery was far from over. Learning to make jewellery is an eternal process if one is passionate and committed. Although very rewarding, it is a difficult and sometimes very challenging one, especially if one is a self employed artist/jeweller.
I like lots, one is nothing, but I am always attracted by that which glitters. That is why my work ranges from cutlery over fine jewellery to mosaic mirrors and I am positive that the list will grow in the years to come. Manic-compulsive? You could say that, but in the best possible way. My inspiration is a case of a penny drops and I need to spend it. I don't know exactly where it comes from, I am just grateful that it comes.
Hence one of my favorite quotes "You don't need to know where you are coming from, you just need to know where you've been" courtesy of Mater, Lightning Mc Queen's pick-up-truck buddy in the movie "Cars".

I draw inspiration from the world around me, nature, the jewellery and beauty of the Touareg and other Saharan tribes, to name but a few sources. I like clean simple line and try to incorporate it in whatever I am creating.
I invite you to meet me in my workshop in Roodebloem Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town. Or if this is too far off your beaten track, connect with me on email: or phone +27 (0)79 971 2976

Thursday, 4 August 2011

A is for Adi.

What did I get myself into? This was the first question that came to mind when I started my apprenticeship at Galaxy in Cape Town. Little did I know that I subconsciously had chosen the trade that would become my passion for life.

After 6 years of training and working as a model maker for a commercial jewellery manufacturer, during which I was thoroughly trained in all techniques, skills, equipment and materials of the trade (and had the certificate to prove it), I decided that it was time to move on and out these skills to a more creative use.
I started working for myself and have never looked back, even though it has been tough and an uphill battle at times. But I love what I do and more importantly I am in the fortunate position to being able to do what I love.

In my work I explore my love for working with metal, pattern & detail, combining it with form and texture. I also enjoy creating sculptural work to use in adornment. In combination with metals like silver, gold and bronze I use gemstones, wood, found objects and glass beads. My jewellery combines bold strong form, with intricate patterns or detail that is engraved and oxidized.

India is a great source of inspiration for me. During a 6 month stint in a workshop in Noida (Deli)I was overwhelmed by the amazing skill of local jewellery makers and their fascination for detail, which I adopted.
For more info, images and inspiration please visit my website or make an appointment to visit me in my studio, that I share with friend and business partner Adeline Joubert in Roodebloem Rd in Woodstock, Cape Town.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Mind the gap!

Our collective grew out of a conversation around "jewellery" vs "art". We asked whether these two terms can ever be synonymous or where they may meet? And furthermore, where do we position ourselves, we wondered, the goldsmiths, the artisans, the hand-crafters of fine things?! But instead
of getting warmed up to do the splits and straddle this divide, we thought we'd much rather bridge this gap by asking a few more questions.

Meet Adi, Frieda, Giselle, Heidi, Jane, Adeline (aka Jubi), Maike and Nadja or "fine ounce" for short. Goldsmiths by trade and passionate about it by heart. Come and join us on a journey through our workshops and also through our thoughts about what we do. Become part of our wider circle, share your experiences and ideas with us and other like-minded people.
Watch this space for updates on our work, upcoming events and jewellery workshops. Get in touch on or make friends on facebook.