craft talk

Hi Everyone,

Here’s my friend Ingrid wearing her July Gloves. She’s also wearing the scarf I made for her five years ago out of Cousin Coral Jade Sapphire cashmere. I’d forgotten about it until she arrived at my house wearing it. The whole ensemble matches my orange dining table, yes?



Before I get on with telling you about what Ingrid and I did last Saturday afternoon, here are my scrap gloves completed. David calls them the Summer of Love Gloves because he’s young enough to remember, fondly, San Francisco, and what the girls were wearing (and doing, presumably?) in 1967.


Ingrid and I attended a discussion at Objectspace, a gallery here in Auckland that shows innovative craft and design. Check out the current show of Meliors Simms fascinating soft sculptures.

The subject of the discussion was the state of crafts in NZ and Australia. I took copius notes but I won’t bore you with the details. The topic that seemed to surface mostly frequently was “how do we get paid?”

I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but here and in virtual places I look (Etsy, Toggle, etc) I’m often shocked by how little value craftspeople put on their own work. This is discouraging, because it means that everyone is forced to join the downward trend. So it was fascinating to hear speak one of my favourite artists, someone who has been making exquisite jewellery in Auckland for 40 years, Warwick Freeman. Warwick has always put a high price on his work which, in my opinion, is art. (This was a question raised during the discussion : how do we get museums and galleries to show craft? Warwick’s response was that you can’t force it. If they like your work and want to show it, they will. Good point). Since the early 70s he has shown in Fingers, a co-op which he started with other jewellers/artisans. It’s located across the street from our beautiful new art museum, and anyone visiting Auckland would be missing a treat not to stroll across the road and peek inside the drawers and cabinets of this astonishing place. There are few places I go and walk out excited without even making a purchase. This is one.

Anyone who has seen me in my Santa Monica shop or otherwise known me for the past few years will be familiar with this  Joanna Campbell  tape measure ring, which David bought for my birthday in 2005. I feel naked without it on my middle  finger. India has one too. I also know a couple of LA ladies who have ordered them, one having to have hers in gold.

Is it not delightful?

Note: Fingers do not sell directly from their website but you can call from wherever in the world you are, and order something. They are very helpful and depending on the day you call, you might even speak to the artist her/himself.

Note #2: The prices reflect the quality of the work.  It is world-class beautiful stuff.

Now, to show you some of my favourites, borrowing photos which are all copyright Fingers, but I don’t think they’ll mind me using them since I am talking about them, after all! Please check out all the links here. You will be amazed.

Warwick Freeman has a wonderful sense of humour. I love these tool-handle pendants, all made from different kinds of stone.


Also with a smile,  Shelley Norton. This can be worn as a ring of a brooch.





This necklace by Kristin Toller is one of my favourites. It blurs the line between art, clothing, and jewellery.

textiles become  jewels. Mary Curtis

If you’re not already in a frenzy browsing the Fingers website, here are some links to tip you over the edge:

Yang Zhang uses waste materials.

Octavia Cook has taken silhouettes to new, fabulous heights.

Karl Fritsch makes the most organic-looking rings (using precious stones) that you will ever see. They defy conventional ideas about jewels in a wonderfully subversive way. One day when my ship comes in I might just buy one.


Let’s all support crafts!

5 Responses to “craft talk”

  1. Jane Says:

    This brings back memories. I used to love visiting fingers when I lived in Auckland.

  2. Kieran Says:

    Reading your post made me sad. I was a metal smith for 23 years until I could no longer afford the soaring prices of everything. Metal and supplies got to be too expensive for me to continue. I was working 3 and 4 jobs to support myself and my art. Last summer I walked away from my bench and enrolled in school. You were spot on when you said craftspeople don’t value their own work. I refused to lower my prices to compete with others on Etsy-I was barely making anything anyway. Fingers gallery sounds and looks like a fantastic place!

    P.s. your knits are FANTASTIC!

  3. Mel Says:

    Kieran: Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sorry you had to give it up. Perhaps it will be temporary?

  4. Polly Says:

    Mel that is something I often feel frustrated by, it’s as if by having a function something is rendered worthless. It only takes a visit to The V&A to reminds me to ignore this kind of mentality. It is a real shame to hear Kieran’s story..I hope that you can work it out and keep on doing what you love!

  5. Polly Says:

    P.S THOSE GLOVES ARE AMAZING!! Like a glove trifle, leftovers are always the best bits!!

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