Jeweller, Metalsmith and Educator
We first met Claire Townsend when we started up Maker&Smith and were looking to plan some craft specific talks and discussions. In March 2019 we hosted a one-day forum, ADORN, about contemporary jewellery and metalsmiths in partnership with the City of Joondalup, to complement an exhibition of work by the JMGA-WA (Jewellers & Metalsmiths’ Group of Western Australia) and the City’s Urban Couture festival.
After an illuminating talk from Katherine Kalaf about her journey promoting contemporary jewellery in Australia, Claire introduced the gathered throng to her work, alongside five other ‘smiths’, and later ran an enamelling workshop for keen amateurs.
We are pleased that our work on the ADORN programme grew our acquaintances in the local jewellery & metalsmithing network and our knowledge of their unique talents. It has also informed us of the challenges they face as skilled makers in Western Australia (WA).
Claire highlights in this short & sweet Q&A her love of rings and her desire to see craft and design nurtured in Western Australia.
Read on for a glimpse into Claire’s smithing life.
What is your craft? How do you like to describe yourself?
I mainly make jewellery and like to use traditional techniques to make wearable art.
Your studio – where and what is your studio/workspace like?
I live and work from my studio in Lesmurdie, in the Perth Hills. I love it!
Which of your tools do you love the most and why?
I have a beautiful old hammer that came from my grandfather’s shed. He used to make wooden toys, so I never knew why he had a metalsmith’s repousse hammer, but I love that he used to hold that same handle.
Your inspiration – what really pumps your creative heart?
I am most interested in the marks we leave on each other through our exchanges. Friends, strangers, lovers, family, we all affect each other, so I guess I’m interested in humans, and how we interact.
What was the spark that made you choose this particular medium?
I made my first ring in high school and I gave it to a friend. The joy I had in seeing him wear it with pride has given me an ongoing desire to make things for others to wear.
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?
I am really flexible, because I work around my family of four. I am in the studio whenever I can be, my dog keeps me constant company, and I mostly listen to podcasts. Huge fan of true crime, and I love getting immersed in the story while I’m immersed in my work.
What are you working towards right now?
I want to make a new selection of rings to sell at some galleries over east*, and am exploring more enamelling in my pieces.
If you could land the dream commission/exhibition/project, what would it be?
I would love to put together an education program for contemporary jewellers in Perth. A program that produced and fostered the future of craft in WA amongst this ever changing fiscal and technological driven landscape. I’d also get to make rings at the same time!
*this is the term that people in WA use to refer to the eastern states of Australia.[Collected 3 November 2019.]
*Since we had this chat with Claire, we’ve had many discussions with her about the need for a craft specific centre of excellence in Perth and Western Australia. We continue to have conversations along these lines with many local craftspeople of differing specialisms. If you’d like to join one of our chat sessions and/or can contribute any intel, please contact us.
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.