Jewellery designer talking sleep, family life and finding
What is your background?
I trained and worked for 10 years as a graphic designer before looking for a more
tactile design field to explore. I studied silversmithing part-time while freelancing in
the corporate and commercial graphics industry.
While working with metal fascinated me for a few years, it also had alot of rules,
limitations and costs. So I continued looking for materials with more creative
freedom. After a year of exploring rope, beads and polymer clay, I gradually
uncovered this new image based polyresin technique that allowed me to make
colourful designs using my illustrations as well.
I have been working on Next Romance Jewels for nearly 3 years now. I love that I can
utilise my graphics experience to create such a unique form of jewellery making and
that my beautiful customers embrace and encourage my quirky designs and concepts.
What has been the most exciting thing about having your own label and your own
I love designing jewellery, being creative and sharing my designs with customers who
appreciate handmade original work. I have really supportive customers who have
followed the concept since the beginning. They are a great encouragement. I really
love every one I meet at markets. Their honest feedback and suggestions have been
invaluable along the way.
What goes into making an individual piece from your collection?
The hardest part is the initial illustration/design idea. I usually do these on holidays when I’m more relaxed and can visit galleries or sit with a sketchbook and a pile of inspirational magazines. Then I scan and create colour ranges and testing from the initial sketch. Tweeking designs and colours so they are eye-catching and unique,
wearable and flattering.
Then the making…that’s alot of rolling, fusing and resin layering. I take over the
house for a day while everyone’s out and go into speed cleaning mode an hour before
they all get home…none the wiser.
What is a typical day like for you?
Usually I walk the kids to school. Second stop, coffee shop. (sometimes I take a box of
earrings there to hook up while I watch the world go by.)
Then I answer emails, book markets, print orders and make a list for the day,
generally ignoring the one telling me to do an hour of yoga, so I might do a guilty 15
minutes of it. Then setup & make a batch of polyresin pieces or hookup the dry ones
from the day before. Quickly eat something, pickup kids and off to sports. Then a
frantic afternoon tidy to turn the art studio back into a family house before dinner.
Maybe a run to the post office. yep, that’s pretty much it, on repeat!
How did you arrive at your signature aesthetic?
I was making and researching all sorts of crazy jewellery techniques. I spent about a year full time spending money on all kinds of materials, searching for the one that resonated with me personally. I did some markets but I had the most eccentric crazy jumbled up stall of experimental pieces. I attended a few craft talks, my ah-ha moment was after
attending a Craft Victoria seminar where the Melbourne jeweller Natalia Milosz-Piekarska spoke about “authentcity”, and being true to yourself in your work, that really gave me the push to pursue this technique further. It has really taken 2 years of
perfecting the craft, taking it to craft and design markets to find my customers, and listening to and asking for feedback.
Do you have any rules about wearing jewellery?
The way you wear your jewellery is an artform in itself. For me, it’s either a big
earring day or a colourful necklace day, depending on the outfit.
I love it when girls can express themselves with accessories. When I sit on the train or
at a café people watching, I can tell the girls that love getting dressed in the morning.
It’s my favourite part of the day too.
What was the most valuable piece of advice you
received when starting out and what advice would
you give others?
Be true to yourself and your style, treat your customers like good friends, and ALWAYS get a good nights sleep (7 hours minimum)!
Vicki Leigh will be at the Finders Keepers Markets in
Sydney from Friday 9th – Sunday 11th December 2016: