Melt, beat, snip, file and punch! These are just some of the actions that go into a day of crafting at Tania Mallow’s jewellery bench. One of our greatest surprises on this studio visit was witnessing the incredibly physical business of engineering jewellery...those tiny pieces of art we adorn our bodies with. Seeing Tania in action was a real eye opener and we were thrilled to gain insights into this ancient and specialised art form.
Tania’s work space is a bit like a science lab meets metal forge...meets holiday bach! Only a couple of minutes away from one of Auckland's most beautiful east coast beaches she is close to what inspires her most; the natural environment and native wildlife. Her handsome Tui bird necklace is a signature piece and has recently been joined by a little Ruru, already becoming a firm favourite amongst our staff and customers.
Tania Mallow has converted a portion of her sunny Beachlands home into an efficient little working studio. Her well appointed space contains all the tools necessary for turning raw metals and gems into heirlooms and works of art. In fact it's hard to believe the incredible works she produces come from this humble space, but jewellery making as it turns out is a very intimate craft and can require as little space as a butchers block. Hours of work fine-tuning precious elements is done methodically, close-up and with great focus.
Most creative outlets have a sense of immediacy. Drawing or photography for example can bring to life images and communicate ideas with speed. Jewellery making appears to differ here. The process for translating creative ideas into physical pieces of jewellery takes many layered steps. An understanding of material limitations at the outset, the technical ability to then create the piece and lastly the patience to execute each step fully.
Some such steps: carving wax, soldering metals, dipping pieces in chemical solutions, beating and filing, setting stones, embossing metal sheets, heating and polishing ...the list goes on.
Tania was formally trained in jewellery making and speaks often of how lucky she was to have the chance to apprentice under the guidance of one of Auckland's most senior manufacturing jewellers. This foundation coupled with years of work at her jewellers bench sets Tania aside as one of the most accomplished jewellers we have at Creative & Brave. Her catalogue of works is incredibly varied and shows great technical ability.
Jewellery is a very personal form of art and expression and a lot of Tania’s research involves understanding people's preferences, watching trends and discussing jewellery whenever she can. Listening is also a very important aspect of being a jeweller. Years of working closely with clientele to create their dream jewellery has not only developed Tania’s collaborative abilities but has given her the opportunity to work with some incredible gems and metals and in ways she may not have considered before. This thoughtful, open minded and enthusiastic approach defines Tania’s jewellery practice.
Tania has recently decided to dedicate her full focus on her own creative process and developing her own special brand. This is a very brave step as it requires sacrificing in other areas like reducing hours in her full time job and investing into expensive materials. We are right there behind her, a crowd of excited fans cheering her on, anticipating wonderful new works, future heirlooms and tiny pieces of art.
Words and images by Tui Miller. Video by Amber Hankins.