The Handmade’s Tale: Brimstone Jewellery

Laura talks to Ami Holifield; the creator behind beautiful Brimstone Jewellery.

Ami Holifield is something of a renaissance woman– tour manager, stalwart of Art Departments in the New Zealand film industry and creator of beautiful jewellery.  I don’t know how she does it, but I’m glad she does– some of my favourite pieces of jewellery were made by her nimble hands!  She generously gave me the low down on what goes into making her magical work.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

A mixed cauldron, spanning simple and chic fine jewels, to esoteric charms, magical amulets and one-off custom finery.

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What drew you to jewellery making?

I knew I was going to pursue something artistic when I finished school. Jewellery spoke to me and I felt myself drawn in to its tangibility and its potential to be a sacred keepsake or heirloom for another.

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How did you learn how to make jewellery?

I studied at Auckland’s MIT Art campus – completing a two-year a Jewellery techniques trade course.

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I had an incredible introverted tutor who I enjoyed and related to, and whenever my attempts on new techniques were less than desirable, he would write encouraging little notes on my submissions rather than be negative.

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Graduating from this course led to confusions, at that time the internet was pretty much nonexistent, and the opportunities that exist now did not then for someone wanting to pursue a non-traditional career in the field.

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I landed a job in a manufacturing jewellers workshop where we produced stock for the two big name NZ jewellery retail stores. Even though I didn’t appreciate it at the time, this job helped refine my skills and develop the high standards of crafting and finishing required.

Eventually I rebelled against this production-line cookie cutter grind and disappeared down the rabbit hole of music and touring. I re-emerged in 2015 with a world of new opportunity at my feet – building a webstore, embracing Etsy and Instagram, and opening for business.

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Can you describe some of your processes?

Sketchbook ideas come to life via hand forging metal, sawing shapes from plate metal, creating settings from wire stock. Ideas also become tangible from carving and melting jewellers wax to form and then using the ‘lost wax’ method to cast them into metal. Stone setting proceeds in the format of claw, gypsy, flush and bezel settings, all done by myself.

I also incorporate making silicon moulds of natural forms to cast into metal and integrate into pieces. Once completed, a piece will then go through various stages of finishing – sanding, texturing, polishing and applying gloomy patinas where called for.

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Have you always been an arty or crafty person?

Always. I have very vivid memories of specific ‘art’ I would make in the craft areas at kindergarten. At primary school I steered towards the more nerdy after-school art classes and school holiday programs, and my childhood years were filled with paper-making kits, paper marbling, flower pressing, volcano eruption making, bugs and science experiments.

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What have been some of the highlights for you since starting Brimstone Jewellery?

Being approached and trusted to make engagement and wedding rings for dear friends is at the top of my list.

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Where do you do your making?

Brimstone studio is a very cosy space set up in the garage of my Auckland home.

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What do you spend your time doing when you are not crafting beautiful jewellery?

I currently split my time three ways as a self-employed lady – my other outlets of work are in the Art Departments of the NZ film industry, and booking and tour managing the international escapades for an extreme metal group from New Zealand (my night- owl work). My plate always seems very full in terms of workload, but this has led for a fulfilling life for me so far, and the variety keeps me engaged.

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What are your plans for Brimstone Jewellery going into the future?

To continue on how I am going would make me very happy. Brimstone Jewellery is one area of my life where I have not placed high expectation on volume of output, in order to reserve it as a sacred and fulfilling outlet for myself. In a world of cheap and churned out items, spending the slow and intended time to craft wonderful keepsakes for people using old world skills means everything for me in terms of process and product.

Brimstone Jewellery can be found on Etsy at www.etsy.com/nz/shop/BrimstoneJewellery

Now is a  great time to check it out too because the annual Brimstone ‘Cabinet of Curio’s’ clearout  is on — all pieces are completed are ready to ship.

And as a special treat for Eclectic Ladyland readers head to www.brimstonejewellery.com where you can use the code BRIMSTONE at checkout to get 10% off!

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