When Trevor Binford realised the guitar he’d spent weeks cutting, gluing and sanding wasn’t up to scratch, he threw it in the ocean.
You wouldn’t expect the same reaction from an employee of the Yamaha guitar factory in Hangzhou, China, where thousands of instruments are made every day.
Automation has become so precise and efficient that products can be created with a perfection that no human hand could replicate, and at a fraction of the time and cost.
So why does Binford keep pouring his blood, sweat and tears into creating his acoustic guitars, ukuleles and basses, spending hours hollowing their tops with miniature planes and gluing finicky pieces of wood to form their complex internal latticework?
The answer, Binford says, will be obvious to guitar aficionados. Some people are willing to pay thousands of dollars for one of his instruments despite being able to pick up a perfectly passable guitar for a couple of hundred bucks at a music store.
Binford, a master luthier who specialises in jazz arch-top acoustics, typically spends a month working on a single instrument, which will fetch about $7000 for a basic model.
“When I’m using the plane, I’m not just looking; I can hear the sound that the plane makes over the timber, which can change with even a few strokes,” he says.
“I can feel how the timber’s moving and whether it’s flexing because if it doesn’t flex then no sound is produced. That’s not something you can really teach anyone and not something a machine can do.”
Binford was brought up in a log cabin in Northern Michigan, from where he still sources some of the timber for his guitars.
After a year-long guitar making course, Binford landed a coveted apprenticeship with American master luthier – stringed instrument maker – Bob Benedetto.
“His instruments, just to give you an idea, go for over US$40,000 because his brand and reputation have earned so much respect.”
Binford worked in just about every department of the luthiery, attaining all the skills necessary to start his own line of instruments.
In his modest Onehunga workshop, the scents of exotic timbers permeate the air and tools which look as though they could be 100 years old are carefully hung from walls.
Obscure glues, resins and polishes line shelves beneath a huge technical guitar poster by his mentor and hero, Benedetto.
When completed and singing sweetly, Binford’s guitars bring him immense satisfaction. But when they fail to meet his high standards, the result can be deep despair.
“When you’ve been working so hard on something and you realise, ‘Nope, this isn’t going to be a quality instrument, I can’t continue with this’, you have no choice but to set them aside as delicately as possible. Well, I’ve thrown them in the ocean before,” he says.
“But when you hear something you’ve built that sounds much better than anything you can get in the shop, and that suits the customer’s desires … that’s what I do it for. The good thing is, you usually don’t have to throw them into the ocean.”
Despite being a young business – and acoustic arch-tops being a relatively little-known style – Binford’s luthiery has a steady customer base, particularly among jazz musicians. He also does repairs and holds increasingly-popular guitar building workshops.
“Obviously there isn’t as high a demand for this instrument as there is for the $300, $400 guitars, but people that play a lot can really hear the difference and know that they can’t go into the music shop and get something that sounds as good.”
Also, every instrument is unique.
“I could use the same timber, from the same tree, to the same measurements and it would sound completely different,” he says
There is also an increasing awareness – sometimes accompanied by disgust – about mass production, with many people willing to pay more rather than supporting a large guitar manufacturer.
So are the luthier’s skills being lost?
“Yes they are, unfortunately. When people get into the business … even if they’ve studied it at school they want to reduce the amount of time they put into building a guitar and in doing that a lot of the hand – that visceral appeal – is lost.”
Onward into the Bronze Age
It’s a process that’s been around for more than 5000 years, but the lost wax bronze casts made by Wellington foundryman Jonathan Campbell are being ordered faster than he can make them.
At a time when an entire car can be created using a 3D printer, you could be forgiven for thinking the ancient craft would be all but redundant.
On the contrary, Campbell is “constantly” casting objects that have been created by 3D printers, transforming them into timeless pieces, often of great complexity and beauty.
Campbell, who is also a sculptor, started his Created and Cast Bronze foundry in 1991as a way to make his own art, but quickly discovered the commercial value of what he was doing.
Campbell’s skills were in hot demand when the Lord of the Rings crew was in town for Sir Peter Jackson’s film trilogy.
He’s also made many life-sized statues of people, countless trophies, statues and also the medals handed out when the America’s Cup was first held in New Zealand in 2000.
The work requires a furnace that heats the metal to, on average, 1100C, as well as a kiln for the ceramic moulds, which must reach some 800C.
“Bronze has got lots of qualities – it’s beautiful to melt, it’s beautiful to weld, it’s really nice to machine and best of all it doesn’t rust. That means if you put a sculpture out it’s probably going to be floating around the stratosphere when the earth explodes,” he says.
Campbell loves his work – never moreso than when he gets to break the ceramic shell to reveal the “present” beneath – but it’s a hard, physically-demanding job which can get uncomfortably hot.
And it can certainly be hazardous.
“In my first few years I was a regular at A&E,” he says. “Usually it’s something really dumb; the worst one I had was when I was welding a sphere that I had in a vice when the phone rang.
“I had a conversation and then put my hand on it to take it out of the vice. It wasn’t until I heard my skin sizzling that I realised what I’d done.”
Although there are only a handful of people in the country who can do what he does, Campbell says the craft could be around another 5000 years yet.
“People always said technology would be the death knell for the industry, but what it’s actually done is opened up different doors for me.
“Like with the 3D printing – they all just bring me things to cast now. But sadly there are people I know in model making industries and things like that where it’s bitten them quite a bit.”
Symmetry is boring: Debra Fallowfield
How does a jeweller working in a tiny studio at the back of her house compete with factories able to churn out thousands of wedding rings in a day?
She doesn’t, and that’s the whole point, says Debra Fallowfield, whose hand-crafted jewellery has gained a niche international following.
Most jewellery labels are now able to make exact replicas of their wares using computer-aided design, pretty much the antithesis of Fallowfield’s approach.
She sees her pieces as being like fingerprints, in that each one is unique.
“Even if I repeat a design it’s always going to look a bit different, and that’s what I tell people: ‘It’s not going to be exactly the same – deal with it’.”
Fallowfield is mainly self-taught but uses fundamental jewellery-making techniques that have existed for time immemorial.
“There’s a lot of forging – heating metal and shaping it with hammer and tongs – lots of filing and a hell of a lot of sanding,” she says.
“It’s tough, dirty work and it’s hard on the body – I’ll go through about 10 different sandpapers before I actually get to that final polishing stage.”
Although it can take just a few hours to make a simple ring, a complex piece can take three or four days.
“It takes maybe 20 to 30 minutes to set a single stone so if you’ve got a ring that’s got 40 stones in it, that’s a lot of time,” she says.
Despite living at the bottom of the world, the internet means she has a global network of clients and rings from Australia to Alaska.
“They know that it’s not off the rack, it’s not mass-produced and so they’re willing to pay that little bit extra,” she says.
But artisans such as Fallowfield need to go that extra mile to justify their higher prices.
“For me and for every craftsperson its about carving that niche, but it’s also about educating the public about what goes into these things,” she says.
“You need to actually tell people, ‘This costs this much because of this – feel it, touch it’. Then people start to understand.”
Since her business found its feet, Fallowfield’s husband has quit his job in construction to join her in the venture.
“My work is quite wobbly and when he started working with me, because of his background in construction, he’d say, ‘Hey, that’s a bit off’, but it’s not. This is a bit of a cliche but it’s about finding beauty in imperfection,” she says.
“Symmetry can be pretty boring. I like fluidity so that it looks hand-made, without being contrived about it.”
Does traditional jewellery have a future?
“On the one hand, I think it doesn’t because so many jewellery labels are using computer-aided design. They’re even using it to make it look hand-made, which irritates me quite a bit,” Fallowfield says.
“But at the same time, the crafting and hand-made movement is gaining quite positive traction here and in Australia, and it’s making its way into the US.
“So there is a bit of a push-back against mass production and I think people like me can feel positive about that.”
Someone put the brakes on ,February is almost over..
Big apologies for my lack of Newsletters .
Hubby and I have just returned from a 2 week road trip.
We drove all the way up to Rotorua from Dunedin visiting lot’s of places I had never been to!
You see ,I am one of those terrible people who has seen more of the world than places right on her own doorstep.
It was a lot of fun -but now I have to play “catch up ” with all my orders.
Never mind better to be busy than not!
February’s gemstone is the rather regal Amethyst ,which I address belowxx Deb
Amethyst as a Gemstone
A purple translucent semi-precious stone. Like all quartz amethyst is a commonly used stone in metaphysical work. Amethyst is found in many parts of the world, but only a few countries provide the dark, high quality colour.
About the Stone
Amethyst is a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness. The only difference between regular clear quartz and amethyst is the colour, which is caused by iron and aluminum that were present while the stone was forming. Amethyst is always a shade of purple, sometimes very light, other times very dark, and occasionally you will find red dots or red or blue hues in the stone.
Amethyst and citrine are closely related: citrine is formed when amethyst is exposed to heat when forming. Some people even call citrine “burnt amethyst”. When citrine and amethyst are found together in one piece, it is called ametrine and is very sought after.
Amethyst is the birthstone for February and is mentioned under the astrological signs Pisces, Aries, Aquarius, and Sagittarius. Amethyst is found in Russia, India, Brazil, US, Canada, Australia, and South Korea.
The use of amethyst dates back to Neolithic times. It has often been associated with royalty, and used in crowns and royal rings.
The word amethyst comes from Greek, and means “to not intoxicate”. It was traditionally used by Greeks and Romans as a way to keep themselves sober. Amethyst has also been used to deal with insomnia, grief, and addictions.
In other news I am starting a campaign across social media to highlight our bespoke engagement and wedding ring collection.
As most of you already know “we ” is Hubby and I ,that’s pretty much it -apart from a little help from a couple of fabulous gem setters when a job is just a little bit beyond our skill set!
We truly do everything BY HAND ,from design right through to completion , and unlike the majority do not use CAD
(computer aided design ) in any way ,shape or form.
I cannot stress this enough.
The vast majority of jewellers and jewellery companies now produce their work via CAD .
This is totally ok if it is made clear to the customer, yet there are quite a few companies in the marketplace who choose not to disclose this , yet still continue to use the terms handmade, bespoke , and handcrafted when describing their work -which I find somewhat dishonest.
How can designing something on a computer and knocking it out on a 3D printer be justifiably called handmade?
Dean (Hubby ) and I reckon this year is going to be absolutely bloody magic.
2018 BRING IT ON!
After a short break we have been back in the workshop soldering, filing, sanding away on pre Christmas orders, plus sneaking in the odd new design in the mix to keep things fresh!
I have to admit December was all a bit of a blur (No,NOT too many cocktails!) .
Just the usual insane workload and the huge push to get everything finished IN TIME for Christmas.
So a big thanks to all you amazing customers that keep this wee business buzzing.
January’s Birthstone is..
When people think of Garnet they instantly think of RED-however Garnets can come in many shades!
From red to pink ,orange, and green …
GARNET MEANING & PROPERTIESGarnet has that beautiful glassy glow which makes it one of the most beautiful stones that you will ever see.
The name is derived from ‘granatus’, the Latin word for seed or grain because of the stone’s resemblance to the small round seeds of a pomegranate.
The most common color of Garnet is red, but the color varies most of the time depending on the gemstone’s composition. It can have a dark, strong red color, or it can also be brownish red.
While it is commonly thought that Garnet is a red gemstone, there are also Garnet stones that are pink, orange, green, deep brown, purple-red, yellow and colour change! There are some that appear olive green or pale pink when exposed to natural or artificial light.
Garnet can be found and mined in countries like Austria, Hungary, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, and India.
A powerful gem garnet has the power to purify the energies in your body by getting rid of the toxins and restoring your body to its revitalised and re-energised state.
Garnet can cleanse your body, mind, and spirit. It can make sure that you are functioning at your 100% all the time!
It’s a stone that you must have if you want to achieve or regain your balance, if you want to feel safe and protected, and if you want to harness your inner strength.
It can promote self-empowerment and higher thinking. It can harness your creativity which can help you in all your pursuits.
Top left photo – fused white and rose gold, oval colour change garnets, rubies and diamonds *POA
Top right : 5mm round demantoid garnet ,diamond halo ,rose gold -ONE OFF on SALE $2,200
Bottom Left : colour change demantoid garnets ,rose gold earrings (@8mm across ) ONE OFFS -$720.00
Bottom right : Rhodolite garnet AAA quality *( fabulous video of this on Instagram) diamonds, rose gold -ONE off ring – $2,900
In other news my remodelling work is still in very strong demand.
If you are interested at all -please check out the FAQS on my website regarding the process and the base cost.
My good friend and journalist Amy Parsons-King recently wrote an article in response to what I would call a piece of “fluff” editorial on successful women in businesses daily routines.All beautiful instagram stars of course!
The article (and these “Boss” girls ) were incredibly cringy, and sounded as real as a Mac Donald’s hamburger.
Whilst the other article was laughable it also had a sinister side -as it showed young woman totally unrealistic ideals on appearance and how they were “supposed” to be.
A Facebook friend (who’s also a friend in real life btw, not just a virtual one . . . although I have those too) recently shared a story by a New Zealand fashion magazine, aimed at young girls on the morning routines of three smart, successful, young NZ women.
I’m not sure what constitutes being simultaneously smart and successful but the magazine suggests if you’re a /photographer/yogi/stylist/creative director/accessory designer/blogger/cake maker who gets up at 5am, squeezes your fingers for an hour each morning to clear negative energy, eats grass on toast, washed down with a glass of lemon water, pre-plans your entire weeks outfits and scrapes the gross s*** off your tongue all before 9am you are a truly a #boss #girlboss. Hmmmm not on this planet mate!
I asked three successful, smart, honest local women to share with us their perceptions of success and their morning routines…
Debra Fallowfield, jewellery designer:
How do you define success?
Hmmm…It can be as simple for me as finishing a particularly complex piece, to getting through a massive amount of work in a day or in a week. Success to me is more of a feeling than anything else really. Satisfaction, confidence, elation. The feeling that YES things are great. For me success has very little to do with money or how many fans I have on Instagram.
Do you consider yourself successful?
Yes I think so, I feel pretty successful most of the time -there are not many people who are able make a full-time living out of their passion. I was going to use the word “lucky” but seriously luck has nothing to do with it, it’s just work, hard work and drive. Obviously success is different to every individual. I think it’s my ability to think outside the box (I never stop thinking ) and to constantly create and recreate. I never get too comfortable or complacent with what I do-I can be (I wish I wasn’t) fiercely competitive and I think that drives me to strive to be as good as I can be.
Run us through your morning routine…
First off I am not a morning person. I get up at 8am-coffee…Do not I repeat, DO NOT talk to me before coffee. Then I check emails, facebook, instagram, while thinking about having a smoothie for breakfast -but its too cold for healthy green sludge, so abandon that idea and have another coffee *( one day all the superfood supplements I buy and stick in the cupboard for when I start my “health kick” will be used..maybe) I am a Vegemite on toast kind of gal-or if it’s a shop day, poached eggs, avocado and loads of home-made chilli. But most days are Vegemite on Vogels. Then I throw on my work gear. My studio/workshop is at home, so it’s tracks, uggs, and an old sweater…I keep the ones with the holes under the arms, especially for the studio. I work with my husband so he jokes about how sexy I look…lol . I don’t bother with a bra cause I’m only going down the hallway-so what’s the point? That’s pretty much it-it’s pointless having a shower or cleaning my face, being girls cause it’s dusty, dirty and grubby in the workshop-I’ll do that later when work is done. If I leave the house it’s generally rush into a shower, brush teeth, slap on face moisturiser and sun block, if I am heading to the shop I’ll check my hair and maybe put some mascara on – throw on jeans, short boots, baggy sweater .I dress very “Dunedin “ most day’s
The October birthstone, Opal and Tourmaline are the most radiant gems in the market. Both stones exhibit a vibrant spectrum of colours, lending charm and beauty to any jewellery they are fashioned in. These dual coloured gems are prized across the world and are in high demand for their unique hue combinations and crystal structures.
The Opal was a symbol of and hope to the ancient Romans. The people of the Orient christened the Opal, ‘Anchor of Hope’. Others believed the Opal fell from the heavens when lightning struck the Earth. According to legend, the Opal was believed to make its wearer invisible and was a popular talisman of spies and thieves. The stone has a unique property in changing colour, believed to indicate the health and mental state of the wearer. The October birthstone is associated with purity, innocence, hope and faith.
October has a second birthstone, the Tourmaline. Tourmalines are a relatively recent discovery and assignment. Due to its recent unveiling, the stone lacks an interesting background, lore, myths and legend. This gemstone however, is known as the ‘Peace Stone’, believing to dispel anger, fear, jealousy and aggressiveness to keep the wearer calm and tranquil. Besides peace and progress, the stone is believed to enhance creativity of its wearer.
The tourmaline is a very interesting gemstone. When warmed or rubbed, this stone attracts ash, bits of paper and lint. This happens since the gem is charged with static electricity when rubbed. The tourmaline is accorded a place of honour in its part in the studies and experiments with electricity conducted by Benjamin Franklin.
According to legend, Cleopatra is said to have worn a magnificent set of opals to attract Mark Anthony, ruler of Rome. Queen Victoria was a passionate collector of the gemstones, one of the many rulers who wore crowns encrusted with the gems to protect them against evil and enemies.
Contrary to popular belief, the Russians believed that the Opal represented the evil eye. The rulers of Russia were steadfastly against using the stone in any form of jewelry.
Other nations believed that the opal was considered a gemstone that brought immense fortune on the wearer as the stone possessed the virtues of each gemstone whose colour was captured by the Opal’s spectrum of colours.As a result the stone was considered lucky.
The word opal is derived from the Roman term ‘Opalus’. Some believe the word was derived from ‘Ops’, wife of Saturn, the Goddess of fertility. Other references indicate the term was derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Upala’.
The word tourmaline is believed to have been derived from the Singhalese word ‘Toramalli’, meaning ‘something out of the Earth’. The Sri Lankan term is applied to all green, brown or yellow stones.
Below are two rings I just completed to celebrate October
On the left a large 10mm round Welo opal set in 9ct yellow gold -an incredible stone that flashes orange,yellow,green and red.
On the right a large Green to orange Catseye tourmaline (@ 12mm across ) in rose gold with Pave diamond shoulders.
Both are one of a kind and available to purchase.
QUESTION OF THE MONTH “How long does it take to make a ring?” Easy answer is “As long as it takes”
It’s actually difficult for me to pin point the exact time it takes to create each ring, some are complex ,others are simple ,and some are just a right pains in the a@@ from the very beginning.
Sometimes things don’t cast properly and I have to remake them ,or occasionally I succumb to human error and somehow make the wrong size ,or do something just as silly.
Creating jewellery by hand is always challenging -it never gets EASY!
But I like it that way ,if things were too easy ,I would get complacent ,or worse still -bored!
Back to the question “How long does it take,Deb?”
So here I break down of my typical week MONDAY
In the studio at around 9am to start on the weeks orders .
I tend to work on a group of rings at a time-anywhere from 6 to @ 10 max -anymore than that and it’s too much work.
I pull out the notes on each job, read through them carefully carving and creating an individual wax for each ring ,which is then sprued and set aside ready for casting.
In eight or so hours we may get 8-10 waxes done ,ready for casting the next day. TUESDAY
Continue with orders or make some stock items from pieces cast over the past few weeks.
Because I am not really a collections based jeweller (that would get incredibly dull ) ,I often head to my gem boxes and start with the gems first choosing what stone for what combination eg: A rose gold crown setting on a wide silver band with a cobalt spinel perhaps?
I never quite know what I will end up with when I start on stock rings, sometimes what I originally envision changes completely by the time the item is finished.
Obviously custom work is completely different as I am constantly referring to mine and the customers notes ,recalling our conversations and the whole “feel” we are after eg: not too bulky, not too wide ,brushed or shiny flush or grain set .
I then line up the combinations ready for soldering(with a big gas torch) and tend to solder 8-10 in a row .
Even 15 years on, some days soldering goes like a dream, other days nothing seems to “run” properly on those days you just have to walk away and say “let’s try again tomorrow!”
Most evenings after dinner I answer emails ,messages, post on social media ,quote jobs,
test gold from remodelling jobs ,photograph old gold for remodelling jobs ,send invoices, it does’n’t really stop out of the studio! WEDNESDAY
All the work I soldered yesterday is ready to be “cleaned up”.
Starting with a very course bastard files I file the top layer of metal off the bands of the rings and any rough bits from soldering around the ring tops-they have no stones/gems in them as yet, they are just empty little vessels, all charred and black looking.
I check all the joins thoroughly and re solder if necessary .
After the initial “rough up” I then work with smaller needle files from a course grade to a finer grade ,moving the ring around ,smoothing rough patches.
After filing comes sanding ,I use pieces of sandpaper working in one direction smoothing the metal. Grade after grade is used from 80 grit through to 1200 grit, paying special attention to the joins ,needless to say I go through sh@tloads of sandpaper!
Larger areas on the back of the rings can be done on the bench grinder, mine is nothing fancy a good old Ryobi workhorse called “Rob” with spindels attached on either end to take flap-wheels *
(compressed sandpaper/emery paper grit buffs).
This saves me hours ,although my fingers and nails unfortunately take the brunt of this.
Often after a day on the grinder my thumb pads are worn and bleeding and my nails are filed in weird directions!
Normally whilst I am doing the outside of the rings ,Hubby Dean is grinding out the interiors.
I am a firm believer my rings must be as nice on the inside as they are on the outside so we work these just as hard.
The rings are now ready for polishing ,I change the flap-wheels to buffs and use a polishing compound to cut and polish them to perfection.I repeat this process with 3 different compounds so they are smooth like silk.
It’s very dirty and messy, even with a respirator on and the extraction unit going,I still get manage to get covered in black grime!
The rings are then cleaned in an ultrasonic bath.
It’s 3pm now and I realise I have an appointment down at the shop at 3:15pm ,so quickly wash my face and scream down for that. THURSDAY
The Monday’s waxes have been cast so it’s clean up and file, sand and repeat.
I get Dean on onto sprue removal whilst I decide which rings finished yesterday will be ‘set”(the gems put in-and no we do not glue them in ,as a lady last weekend asked in t the shop) by us or couriered to one of two setters we use who set the more complex jobs for us.
We do set a lot in house ( Well..my husband Dean does much more than me!)
Gem setting is actually a completely different trade to jewellery ,and finding a good setter can make or break your work ,so I totally treasure the two that I use (Adele and Dave if you are reading this!).
It takes many, many years of training and practise to be a good setter .In another newsletter I will go into detail about setting a bit more ,but just so you know all those little gems set into my “scattered” gem style of work can take 20-30 minutes each to set . FRIDAY
The courier delivers last weeks lot of rings from our setters .I re polish them all till they are pristine then photograph them ,invoice them ,send off to their forever home or pack up ready for the shop tomorrow.
I then realise I should make a few earrings and necklaces ,but by Friday afternoon I need a break (wine) because I will be at the shop all day Saturday and possibly Sunday ,so they are put on the back burner till till next week (Yet again..Lol!)
Tell us about your design background and what lead you into Jewellery Design?
I fell accidentally into jewellery when living in Australia ..I worked as a retoucher back in the days PM (pre Macintosh!) on magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire etc-.Retouching fashion shoots and Mag covers by hand -old school with paintbrush , scalpel, etch and a magnifying glassAccidentally -because I went to do a Computer -mac course at the local highschool . The course was cancelled due to not enough people and I was asked if i wanted to choose another course..I choose jewellery as a laugh.
I reckon I was pretty much hooked after the first night!
I had always been ‘arty ” as a kid I was painfully shy -but always drawing,painting or making stuff …But when I left school I had no idea what to do – I did work experience with a local print firm and ended up training up as a retoucher before moving and living in Sydney for over 15 years…When I returned to NZ late nineties pregnant,without a job and a single mum (oops ) I started making jewellery in my dads mechanics garage of an old kitchen bench with a handful of second hand tools.
What sets the Debra Fallowfield brand apart, and what do your clients come to you for?
I have no formal jewellery training nor did I go to art school.. I lamented for years about not attending art school..but now that I am older I feel it’s a blessing in disguise -I have such a distinct style,being pretty much self taught (apart from the basics) has meant I do things so differently to most jewellers.
That’s what sets me apart -I think outside the box,I take risks.I was mixing gold colours together long before it was fashionable –I look at what’s happening today in the jewellery world and think “hell,I was doing that 15 years ago!!
As well as my strong design aesthetic -I refuse to use CAD (computer aided design) -the majority of what you see these day’s from big brands is mass produced CAD work on 3D printers-Bang out one mold and then cast of 100’s of the same thing,over and over…
Everything I make is entirely by hand,made by me with a little help from my amazing husband.-old school ways -with saw,solder,flame ,files,polishing-I get my hands dirty ,I just don’t draw pretty little pictures then hand them over to someone to do all the dirty work!
My clients come to me because they want to escape the blandness that dominates the jewellery world -they come to me because they know I will create them something no one else has,they come to me because they like me are individuals.They come to me because they appreciate quality and craftmanship ..and because I am South island straight up -no B@llshit
Where do you get inspiration?
Inspiration comes from anywhere-I tend to see things in minute detail..droplets on a blade of grass,shadow on a building,erosion,natural landscapes,manmade landscapes-I don’t tend to sketch-I work with an idea in my head and just roll with it…Otago is so freakin beautiful and rugged and wild it’s a great place to be an artist..everyonesan artist in Port Chalmers. Hotere used to live up the road.
Isolation breeds creativity..
How would you describe the Debra Fallowfield aesthetic?
Strong,bold,confident – extraordinary jewellery for uncommon jewellery ..wearable art. REFRESHING ..it’s different -I don’t follow trends nor others-others follow me!
What have been some of your favorite commitment pieces to create, and why?
Every committment piece tells a different story-it’s hard to pick one ,and whilst I love making wedding and engagement rings for your couples-it’s the 60 years olds that are still loved up getting their rings re designed that rocks my boat!
Do you have a favorite metal or stone?
I love coloured sapphires the ones called “partis”-who does not love a good party!!!
Grey diamonds,rose cut stones ,coloured diamonds and high coloured golds
Apart from Jewellery Design, do you have other creative outlets?
My other outlets are travel -I head away to Sri Lanka for a month soon -traveling solo ..it’s my adreneline.I’m a pretty good cook too-buying contemporary art and sculpture…Music (Hubby DJS )
Favourite thing to do outside of work?
favourite thing is walking the dog at many of the amazing beaches down here on Dunedin harbour..If all you North islanders realised how bloody gorgeous it is down here i swear the would be no one left in Auckland..lol
Keren approached me a while back to create a remodel using some inherited rings of great sentimental value.The main ring (which comprised of sapphires) was previously her Nanas, gifted to Keren after she passed away, the other diamond ring (with the two small diamonds either side) was from her mother.
We began by figuring out what liked l and did not like.Referring to my many styles on facebook ,instagram,and the website we were able to come up with a design that used the elements from a few of my designs.
Because Keren lives outside Dunedin up in Moutere ,we did this via facebook ,through the message box on my page.Facebook business messenger is great for this as it’s was just like having a real conversation and we could bounce ideas off each other pretty instantly.Keren then couriered the rings down to Dunedin.
I have to say Keren was an absolute dream to work with -I really appreciate a woman who knows what she wants!This absolutely makes my job much, much EASIER. Never be afraid to tell me what you want!!!
From the information gathered I sketched out a rough design to make sure we were completely on the same page before starting.
Then began the painstaking task of carefully removing all the stones from their old settings ,sometimes this can take hours.Once that was done all the gold was sent up to a refinery I use in Auckland to be refined and returned as pure gold granules ,clean and alloy free to be used in the new casting!
Keren’s original rings
The finished creation in a very solid 18ct gold.We added a large central 1ct Forever brilliant moissanite and 3 smaller diamonds amongst the diamonds and sapphires either side to balance out the design.
*I go into full detail in my FAQS about the process,base costs etc-click below!
Mystic Topaz is a stunningly beautiful gemstone!
Mystic Topaz has been on the market since 1998, and the first time I saw it WAYYY back then,I was… Well, Mystified!
Mystic topaz looks like no other gem in the world due to the Insane Iridescent Rainbow Colours that the stone exhibits.
It is Brilliant, Bright, Sparkly, and Beautiful ,all rolled into a single gemstone!
Being the Magpie that I am ,I adore Mystic Topaz ,and feature it in a large selection of my work.It is a relatively cheap gem (when compared with say sapphires ,or other precious gems) yet carries a huge “wow” factor
Originally the only variety of Mystic Topaz available was the classic green/pink shade(As featured in the ring above),but now it is being created in a myriad of shades (see below)-although often the more unusual shades are difficult to find .
Most of the Mystic Topaz I purchase is created in the USA from white Topaz mined in Brazil .
So what is Mystic Topaz?
Mystic Topaz is actually an Enhanced, however still real , Topaz Gemstone. White Topaz isCoated with a Layer of Titanium on the Pavilion to Create these Wonderful Colours. It is only Microns Thick, and only Coats the Pavilion or Base of the Stone (Never the Top or the Table).
The Result is a Multi-Color Effect that’s Breathtaking and Surreal.
How hard wearing is Mystic Topaz ?
Mystic topaz is an 8 on the Mohs scale and very suitable for everyday wear in rings, pendants or earrings.
One should take the same care as one would when wearing a diamond.
Like a diamond it has perfect cleavage and it can break, chip or form straight cracks if one were to hit it in just the right place.
So protect it from hard knocks.
As with all gemstones, one should avoid using chemicals like bleach or chlorine or abrasive polishing cloths when wearing your Mystic Topaz.
I always state “common sense prevails”
“Talk to me anytime about creating your dream ring in MYSTIC TOPAZ “
Whilst it is definitely common knowledge I am more a “ring” gal, last month I finally grabbed some time to craft some fabulous new bangles from designs I had had swimming in my head for quite sometime.
These are solid,bold and edgy -and would make amazing timeless gifts,for young and older woman alike-future heirlooms to pass down no less!
Some are inspired by my ring collections ,whilst others such as the ARAMOANA bangle is based upon morning walks along beautiful Aramoana beach with Maia (our rescue Pitbull) and my husband Dean.
I am completely fascinated by the curvature and flow of the long kelp strands strewn on the beach, I have always been attracted to nature with it’s complexity and simplicity at the same time.
My other new favourite is the new RELIC bangle ,showcasing my darker side and love of textural elements,erosion and decay.
Most have a BUY NOW option on the website -head to the WRIST section to check them out!
I am slowly working on increasing the amount of ready made items available on the website,but it is difficult due to the high demand for my custom pieces,and only one pair of hands!
We came across Debra’s website quite by chance and immediately knew she was the woman for us. Debra is clear, direct and an awesome creator – and all that made her super easy to work with. We wanted wedding rings that were special, well considered, expertly created, and crafted by someone we really respected. After all, we’re planning to wear these every day for the rest of our days and wanted someone who would really put a lot of energy into our jewelry.
My husband loved one of Debra’s rings at first sight, so he was an easy fix…me, a little more complex (!). After just a few emails back and forth (we’re not in Dunedin), Debra sent through a design concept and I loved and we were full steam ahead. We found out part way through the design process that we were expecting twins, so we wanted five little gems to symbolise each member of our little family. I wanted a ring that complemented my husband’s – but in a subtle way – so Debra incorporated some of the texture from his ring onto the back of mine. I’d shown Debra a photo of a ring I wear daily from another awesome NZ designer, and she was somehow able to *seemingly magically* pull together my eclectic tastes and interests to create a ring which is just perfect! It’s practical for home life with three small children, and for running and mountain biking, yet also timeless and whimsical and girly. We couldn’t be more delighted to have worked with Debra. Such an easy and delightful process – even from afar!