Journal: Amy Renshaw – Beginnings
I have always wanted to be jeweller and spent a lot of my childhood making and drawing. At the age of 14 I was making Fimo jewellery and objects and selling them at the local craft market. By 16 I had managed to get work experience with a well established trade jeweller, allowing for my first experience of working with precious materials and using jewellery tools. While going into a trade apprenticeship wasn’t for me, I decided to go to art school and follow the path of a contemporary jeweller. Straight out of secondary school, I undertook the Bachelor of Fine Art: Gold and Silversmithing at RMIT. The course offered a solid foundation in design and construction of contemporary jewellery. I was particularly inspired and influenced by my lecturers Robert Baines, Marian Hosking and Carlier Makigawa.
Hybrid bangle by Carlier Makigawa (silver)
‘Bloodier than black’ brooch by Robert Baines (silver, powdercoat, paint, electroplate)
Vessel by Marian Hosking (silver)
This teapot is a piece I made while at RMIT (Silver-plated copper and anodised aluminum)
After completing my degree at RMIT I began work within the trade to enhance my technical skills and gain experience within the industry. My first job was for a opal jewellery manufacturer. In a small workshop opals were cut and polished, jewellery designed, handmade or cast, set with stones and polished. I was one of four jewellers making all pieces from 18ct yellow gold. While the work was very different from my art school training, it was incredibly helpful to rapidly refine my skills and give me insight into all levels of manufacturing. That said, I never ever want to make another gold and opal kangaroo again!
After a few years working in the trade and making a small collection of my own pieces, I travelled overseas and started working in London for several contemporary jewellers, assisting them with their production. From workshops not much bigger than a cupboard to expansive workshops, the opportunities and diversity of roles I undertook provided me a solid foundation of skills and, more importantly, the drive to begin my own practice (but more of that later). Like Melbourne’s Nicholas building, London’s Clerkenwell Close was home to many designers and makers.
Returning to Melbourne I set up my own studio and began work on my own production range and exhibition pieces. To subsidise my income during the establishment of my business I freelanced for a Bridal Millinery company where I made tiaras, soldering the metal pieces before they went onto the next person for embellishment. This work and my own experimenting with coloured materials, lead to a collection of my own pieces made with silver and resin. Colour had became a feature in a lot of my work at this point and still is today.
Resin pendant by Amy Renshaw (silver and resin)
Resin Leaf Embossed brooch by Amy Renshaw (silver and resin)
Now as a practising contemporary jeweller I make a collection of precious rings, with diamonds and coloured gems in 18ct gold, alongside a silver range that features resin, paint and other coloured materials. See my next post for more detail on my exploration of colour.
Pastel earrings and ring by Amy Renshaw (silver and paint)
Pastel brooch and neckpiece by Amy Renshaw (silver and paint)