Q&A – maker of the week: Bethamy Linton

Hammering away, delightfully.

Immersed in the family business of metalsmithing practically from birth, Bethamy Linton started formally working with her father making silver flatware and restoring antiques from the age of 16. Later she trained formally and also in apprenticeships and mentorships in fine jewellery, art and object design.

In this short (and sweet) Q&A, Bethamy gives us a snapshot of her making world and how she upholds the mantle of being a fourth generation silversmith and jeweller.

Read on …

What is your craft? How do you like to describe yourself?

I’m a silversmith.

Your studio – where and what is your studio/workspace like?

When I first answered this question in March 2019, I had three! But it was one too many to handle; so now, since early 2020, I have just two (phew)!

I gave up my city pad, where I did small scale hand makes and taught in a shared space with six other artists. Now I can spend more time in my Gidgegannup workshop, as my son is in school five days a week (theoretically). The workshop is housed in what used to be an emu incubator; it is beautiful, surrounded by trees and filled with things I love.

I am also renovating my family’s workshop in Maylands where I make larger scale silverware and need to make a lot of noise and mess. I’m planning to hold classes and workshops there. It’s filled with generations worth of metal, tools, dust, grime and love.

Which of your tools do you love the most and why?

Oh, I don’t know! I have a lot to love. I love my rolling mills because they have facilitated so much for me.

I have a beautiful collection of hammers too, some are new and purchased from Germany with the help of my beloved mentor Hendrik Forster; others are well used and loved by my father (I have an excellent raising hammer that he brought back from England in the 1970s when he went to study at uni’ there) and others that were my grandfather’s, like the chasing hammer that I use to make my icons, which have now become indispensable to me.

I also recently bought a PUK5 welder which is changing my life, one job at a time.

Your inspiration – what really pumps your creative heart?

Most of my visual references begin somewhere in the natural environment; I am mostly diverted by native flora and fauna, especially those with which I have a personal relationship, and then also by history and the passage of time.

I love challenges in my creative work, I like to continually build new skills and I like making work that surprises me.

Bethamy Linton, Heritage collection pendants, Western Australian wildflowers, in the traditional Linton Sterling Silver style

Bethamy Linton, Sterling silver Heritage Collection pendants, Western Australian wildflowers, in the traditional Linton Silver style for Mundaring Arts Centre.

What was the spark that made you choose this particular medium?

It was always there, I grew up surrounded by it; that smell of metal and grease.
(Read more about Bethamy’s ‘immersion’ below.)

Your working style – how do you like to start on a project and then progress it? Do you stick to a working schedule 9-5 or flex around a bit? Do you play loud music? Are your pets welcome in your space?

My process has changed a lot since I had a child; I used to immerse myself in work. I used to sit around and think about it for hours. Now I just have to use the time I have and tear myself away when I need to go back to my family with my whole self.

I try to stick to a schedule, and I try to pace myself so I’m not up until dawn on projects anymore. I love having pets in my space, for 10 years my dog was my constant studio companion, I also had a lamb at foot that I was bottle feeding for a time.

Mostly I like quiet, but sometimes I’ll listen to music or a podcast.

What are you working towards right now?

Balance!!! No really – I’m trying to build my classes as a part of practice that delivers a regular income. I’m also working on finding a way to streamline the production of Linton Silver and separately I have a hollowware commission that is leading and supporting a new body of work (vessels) that I have wanted to lean into for some time… as well as other jewellery commissions and silverware orders.

Update: I’ve been shifting my practice a bit this year [2020]; focusing on higher end jewellery pieces as a product line to better support my commission practice (as I seem to have come across a lot of high end jewellery commissions lately). That’s a whole lotta fun, I’ve also started using ethically sourced Australian gem stones and am thoroughly enjoying the colour and sparkle they’re bringing to my life.

If you could land the dream commission/exhibition/project, what would it be?

I feel like I already have it! It blows my mind that I can do what I love for a crust.

Of course, it would be amazing if I could focus solely on art works… and, if somebody paid me a steady wage to make whatever I felt like dreaming up – y’know, if there were no strings attached, and if everything I made found a forever home.

But then, I occasionally receive amazing commissions like the aforementioned hollowware commission which essentially does all that! Maybe I need to think bigger. 🤨

[Collected 19 March 2019. Updated 11 June 2020.]

Read more about Bethamy Linton and view some of her work in our Directory – use the links to connect with Bethamy and to commission a unique piece of jewellery, ware or art.

This is a standard set of questions that we ask of all our guest presenters and ‘makers of the week’. They are deliberately low-key.

Post Script from M&S

It’s amazing how in our lifetimes the tradition of the ‘family silver’ has faded. Thankfully Bethamy is able to keep the traditions alive, even if families are not purchasing large sets they are perhaps gifting pairs of serving spoons or platters, which Bethamy designs and makes by putting a contemporary twist on the traditional Linton Silver designs. We look forward to observing how her practice develops over the years and to the opening of her workshops in Maylands.

The Linton workshop was established in 1908 by Bethamy’s great grandfather James Walter Robert Linton, a British trained painter and teacher of art. He was joined in his studio by Mr Arthur Cross, a master jeweller and together they produced commissioned pieces of silverware and jewellery. His son and later his son, Bethamy’s father, also trained and followed in the family business. Linton Silver is held in several major institutional collections, as well as in the homes of royal families and many suburban homes too. It is recognisable for its ‘arts and crafts’ style incorporating Western Australian flora.

On another note and to explain..

Maker&Smith owe the pleasure of highlighting a number of metalsmiths via our platform, thanks to the work we did, producing and facilitating the Adorn program, for the City of Joondalup. It was a delight and a fulsome learning experience to meet and to engage with members of the Western Australian chapter of the Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia* and other interested makers.

* The Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia, WA (JMGA WA Inc.) is a membership based organisation which represents jewellery and object practitioners throughout Western Australia. As a volunteer non-profit organisation they provide a forum to promote, support and develop the field of contemporary jewellery.

Heirloom of the Day: Darning Mushroom.

The Craft of Carnival.

Elaborate Costumes Send a Message of Breaking Free from Slavery and Racism with Optimism and Hope.

It all began in the summer of 1958 in West London when racial tensions grew in the Afro-Caribbean community. Riots went on for three days with over 100 people getting arrested over the bank holiday weekend.

In 1959, the human rights activist, Claudia Jones who was also a Trinidadian journalist, decided to organise an indoor Caribbean carnival to bring all the communities together. That’s when the ‘concept’ of the Notting Hill Carnival came about.

Fifty-four years later, it is the second largest street festival in the world attracting up to 2 million visitors from all over the globe and contributing around £93 million to the UK’s economy, annually (but not this year, as the Carnival is cancelled in 2020).

Every year, around 15,000 costumes are handmade for the carnival parade. Taking over a million hours to create, the main message behind these elaborate costumes is breaking free from slavery and racism, while the music represents the life left behind by the Caribbean community after the emancipation of the freed African slaves from the Caribbean.

This short film The Craft of Carnival, commissioned by the Crafts Council (UK), goes behind the scenes with Mahogany Carnival to discover the craft that helps make it a success each year.

(Photo: @mahoganycarnival ; Text derived from and courtesy of thelondonnottinghillcarnival.com )

The Craft of the Carnival was featured in the 2017 edition of Reel to Real: The Craft Film Festival.

Submit your short film for the Makers’ Film Festival 2021 – and tell your community’s story. Calling now for submissions from all countries of the Indian Ocean, Australia and New Zealand.

Q&A – maker of the week: Megan Stewart

Extremely loud and incredibly motivated.

Megan Stewart describes herself as ‘extremely loud’, and she’s entitled to be, as one of a few young makers in Australia, indeed internationally, who specialises in the unique genre of custom eye ware. A metalsmith by training, Megan makes bespoke frames for your glasses, mainly hand made out of aluminium and titanium with unique ingenious hinges.

According to Megan’s research, 57% of young people wear spectacle frames compared to the 12% that wear contact lenses, and she certainly has a point, that most Australians would prefer to buy local. However, currently 90% of the frames we buy are mass produced off shore. Also, the majority of these are made of plastic with an average life-span of one year, whereas well crafted metal frames designed to your personal taste and style can last for up to 10 years.

If you wear spectacles, you want to know about Smec Eyeware, Megan Stewart’s brand. We encourage you to take up her cause and buy better – custom made frames by Australian young designer makers.

In this short, sweet Q&A, Megan shares a glimpse into her creative life – we know you’ll be able to discern the dedication to her chosen craft.

Read on…

What is your craft? How do you like to describe yourself?

My craft is designing and fabricating spectacle frames. I would describe myself as someone who’s extremely loud; appears small but, has a big personality and even bigger ideas.

Your studio – where and what is your studio/workspace like?

Since I moved back home, my studio space is in my parents’ garage. I have a jeweller’s bench with a shelf above, that my Dad made for me. Even though it’s not a typical studio space, I love that when the garage door is open I can see the sunset and hear the birds. When I’m there, I’m in my happy place.

Which of your tools do you love the most and why?

I love my tiny screwdriver. When I use it, I adore the feeling that I’m building something. All the aspects of my work come together with one simple tool.

Your inspiration – what really pumps your creative heart?

I’m really inspired by people’s reaction to my frames. Sometimes I am stopped in public for my frames – people smile when I say that they’re my own. It makes me realise that people like things that aren’t considered the ‘norm’. This drives me to keep going, to experiment, to push myself and my designs. To show that anything is possible with design as long as you keep going, it can take you anywhere and hopefully encourage others to pursue what they love.

What was the spark that made you choose this particular medium?

After completing a jewellery design diploma and a Gold & Silversmithing degree, metal became a part of my life. It’s incredible to see the contrast between the raw material and what it can transform into. To me, metal is an unusual medium to pursue, but with so many types out there with varying temperaments, it’s hard not to go down the rabbit hole and fall in love with it.

Your working style – how do you like to start on a project and then progress it? Do you stick to a working schedule 9-5 or flex around a bit? Do you play loud music? Are your pets welcome in your space?

My working schedule is quite flexible as I go from CAD modelling to the bench. For both, my concentration has to be in the right place, if a frame isn’t assembling as expected, I have to stop and take a step back. I have a small BlueTooth speaker above my shelf and play a variety of music. Now and again I listen to podcasts but I can get a bit distracted by them! My cat BamBam is always welcome in my space. If I have the door open, she’ll meow her arrival and wander around the garage and disappear for a time. It’s almost a respite when she comes over and I give her a stroke after I’ve been sanding for hours on end. That’s really therapeutic, plus she’s company if I’m on my own.

What are you working towards right now?

I’m in the development stages of the new, 9-piece range which is called the Botanica Collection, which is based on the flora and fauna I’ve grown up with – from living in England to moving to Australia. To accompany the frames, I’m also working on a new Smec Case which will be made from a combination of felt and leather. I’m hoping the collection will be released later this year! I’m also developing a new hinge mechanism that will be universal across the new range.

If you could land the dream commission/exhibition/project, what would it be?

My dream project would be to have my frames sold nationally and internationally, be a freelance accessories designer and a speaker to encourage those studying, or who are considering studying in the art and design field.

Anything you’d like to add?

During COVID-19 lock down I decided to make more use of my time and up my design skills with an online Graphic Design course. I’m just over half way through and it’s definitely getting more intense but I’m really enjoying learning new skills.

[Collected 14 March 2019. Updated 15 June 2020.]

See more of Megan Stewart’s work and her brand ‘Smec Eyeware’ in our Directory – with links to more.

This is a standard set of questions that we ask of all our guest presenters and ‘makers of the week’. They are deliberately low-key.