Jewellery Making Classes

Gaffa Term 3 Jewellery Making Classes are just around the corner. Starting on the 13th of July, the classes range in level from beginners to intermediate and are taught by Alida Cappelletta and Blye Wilson.

Alida and Blye are gaffa studio artists as well as experienced makers. The ring pictured above is one of the first projects Alida takes students through, allowing them to learn the basic skills involved in jewellery making, and challenging their control of heat while soldering. We were able to catch a few classes last term, and capture their students in action. Many of them were wearing creations from previous classes while they sawed, filed, sanded and soldered their way towards a new piece!

For information on how to enrol in a class visit our website:

jewellery class smDSC_1296solderingnecklace

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Interview:Francisca Rendic Jewellery and Design store

Fran Redic

Francisca Rendic’s jewellery and design store is the newest addition to the Arcade Project, which is located on our ground floor. She uses precious metals such as sterling silver and gold as well as precious and semi-precious stones to create unique and limited edition jewellery. We were able catch up with Francisca Rendic for a chat.

Can you tell me a bit about your background and jewellery practice?
For starters, I have always had an interest in the arts in general. Additionally, I found myself to be good at maths and when I combined both, architecture seemed like a happy medium. In architecture I learned the concepts of form, curves, lines and shapes of materials; how those materials are projected into spaces and what shapes are formed from their interactions. I enjoyed my field of study and I enjoyed even better when I got the opportunity to design and build a commercial and industrial building. The project was very challenging and rewarding. It was during that stage that I started to take interest in jewellery making.
I have always enjoyed jewellery and before I started making my own, my collection included pieces I had collected all around the world from designers, artisans and small boutiques. Each piece was a one of piece and a remainder of the place or experience I had lived. The jewellery made me feel special as each piece was unique and complemented my personality and most important of all, I was the only one who had it, which made me feel different, and made me stand out from the rest. That was the feeling that drew me closer to jewellery design.
However, it was not until my husband asked if I loved jewellery so much, why I was not making my own, that I considered seriously. The whole concept of creating my own piece where I could tailor it to my own desires and turn it into a small piece of art, a sculpture on its own was all I needed to make jewellery design my goal.
I started by undertaking one on one tuitions with Isabel Montoya, a renowned jewellery designer. I attended her studio once a week and after a while I decided to have my own studio so I could further my work. I enrolled myself in a few courses in different academies in Santiago, Chile, where I learned processes and techniques such as stone setting, wax carving and etching amongst others. It was then when I started looking overseas and decided to come to Australia to do a Masters in Design at University of New South Wales specialising in Jewellery.
Although you do not work in the field of architecture anymore, I see a connection between it and jewellery as architecture provides a space for people, while to make jewellery you must view the body as a space. Do you feel like your background in architecture has influenced your jewellery?
If it weren’t for my skills as an architect, I would not have fallen in love with jewellery so easily. I was during my studies in architecture where I learned the skills of sketching, understanding scale, structure, movement and training the eye to focus on the detail and the most important of all, learn to see space in a three dimensional way.
I still remember my first day in Isabel Montoya’s studio where I was able to finish a ring in my first class. Isabel was very impressed and I was the happiest person in the world as was now able to dream of a ring, make it and be wearing it on the same day. That feeling was incredible and I since then my personal collection started growing with every day.
I started working with silver as Isabel taught me to forge my own metal from 99.9% pure silver and that fascinated me. She taught me to how to user the rolling mill, shape, solder and polish the metal. I always regarded silver for not only being beautiful and very noble due its flexibility, softness and easy to work with as you could always melt it and start over again. Nowadays I have incorporated gold in my work and set stones in them, discovering a different brightness in the metal and symbolism.
The first ring Francisca made

The first ring Francisca made with Isabel

You recently moved from the gaffa studios upstairs, a space that doesn’t have public access, to down into Arcade 4 and the public eye. What prompted this change?
As you can see from my store, 95% of the jewellery pieces are mine as I have been making jewellery in Gaffa for a few years now. The 5% belongs an alliance of mine and it is all that has to do with stainless steel, tungsten and titanium. During all this time I have been hearing from the consignment places where my jewellery is displayed such as art galleries and museums that people buy my jewellery as presents for anniversaries, birthdays, etc. However, I was not getting any feedback on how the person felt with the piece, I was missing that connection.
Every piece of jewellery I make has a particular energy as I have put love, care and feelings into them. When a person buys a piece, there is a connection with that person, there is a reason why she or he likes it, perhaps a memory or perhaps it means something special to them. The pieces also mean something to me and that creates the connection.
The artist needs the customer’s feedback, we need that connection, make a burden or else, the artist is nothing, we need that connection as it feeds the creativity and the flow of energy to continue to express emotions into the work we do
So by having a place to showcase my work and at the same time, in the same space, have my bench to work meantime I sell me work, was an idea that burst with happiness when it came to reality. Gaffa building is an incredible place, for me, it has given me the chance to only to create my work but at the same time, showcase my jewellery pieces. It makes me very happy at the moment, to be living in this situation at this time of my life. I haven’t moved completely because I still maintain my bench in the jewellery workshop, but I spend most of my time, in this beautiful place that is, the arcade N.4.
Francisca Rendic

Working away in arcade 4

We’re very happy to have you part of gaffa family! Now, there’s also a lot of mystery and wonder about the way that jewellery is made. By having your jewellery bench in the arcade you’re really inviting the public to see a lot of the process. What kind of responses have you encountered having your bench alongside the finished pieces?
Seeing the artist working makes it more real. I sometimes find myself deeply concentrated on my work bench and after a while I look up to find eyes staring at my work. It is a fantastic feeling to be able to engage with an audience even without realising. Perhaps that person that saw me working on a particular piece goes into creating their own work with my role being their inspiration. It is very rewarding. Therefore, I invite everyone that visits the store to stay as long as they want and see the process of jewellery making and perhaps I can inspire others to create.
Francisca RendicFrancisca Rendic
You have production ranges in your store however you make commissioned pieces as well. Are there any that stood out to you? 
The process of making commissioned pieces is beautiful. As there is a need of a jewellery piece, so precious and meaningful for the customer and they want you to be involved in it, it is fascinating. It is however very nerve racking as it is a big responsibility as you can’t miss. And in a sense, it is the same as designing a house, when you meet your clients I would want to know, how they live in their homes, you would want to know what they do after lunch, where do they spend most of their time together in the homes and all sort of questions. For jewellery is the same, I try to understand their taste for jewellery, their personality, their usual activities etc. So when I built the jewellery, you would want them to use the jewellery as much as possible and from the rest of their lives.
My last commission work was to create a couple’s wedding bands [pictured below]. They wanted a very conservative and classical shape. However, wanted to have their fingerprints inscribed on the inside as sign of union and commitment. I not only gained a new skill, but I made the couple very happy as I was able to make their wish come true.

Fingerprint wedding ringsFrancisca Rendic

Francisca Rendic Jewellery Shop is located in Arcade 4 on Gaffa’s ground floor.
For more information, news and events visit the Francisca Rendic website
Open Monday to Friday 10-6, Saturdays By appointment only and closed Sundays and Public Holidays
You can contact Francisca at or on 0487 584 315
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The Curio Collector’s Cabinet: Mark Vaarwerk

vaarwerk1-4Mark Vaarwerk

delve into the garages, spare rooms, bottom drawers, cupboards-below-the-sinks of any home and you will be overwhelmed by mountains of stuff – and most of it plastic. wasted pens, retired TVs or vacuum cleaners or printers, piles of dirty syrofaom boxes, shopping bags…

a stroll down a busy street, a quick glance in a luchroom wastebin, a shortcut down a city alley…

plastics – discarded, forgotten, superseded, broken.   Sifting through this seemingly endless source of raw materials, mark vaarwerk transforms these everyday materials, utilising simple techniques, into wearable items of jewellery. A small and colorful fragment, new and re-invented, but with still a hint of its less glamorous past.

We asked Mark Vaarwerk a bit more about his practice..

Where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration can come from almost anywhere – which I think makes it hard for me to define its source. The natural world has always been very inspiring to me. But probably more important to my work as a jeweller has been my more immediate surroundings – those things that we take for granted, that we see or do every day but for some reason, one random day we see unexpectedly in a new light.

My materials too can inspire me. Working with unconventional materials means there’s room for unexpected results, which might trigger new ideas for new techniques, or might simply leave me with something always unique, maybe beautiful.


How do you translate the ideas you have into the jewellery/objects you make?

My current work began with collecting an assortment of plastics and subjecting them to a variety of treatments – those which showed interesting results were subjected to further experiments and trials. Most of my making begins with an experimental phase, where samples, trial and error gradually lead to a process that can achieve a particular result with a particular material.

From there its a matter of applying those methods in such a way suitable for making the desired piece. Over time, steps in the process may change, to improve on or vary the results. Other materials may be incorporated gradually, again through a series of experiments and samples, to help cultivate an interesting collection or simply to satisfy my own curiosity.


What attracts you to making jewellery/objects and what about it excites you?

I like that jewellery is both so small and yet so precious. So much focus, concentration will go into every piece. Making a piece, unhurried, feels like such an indulgence.

Furthermore, choosing discarded worthless materials to achieve this only makes it more fun.


What draws you to polystyrene and the act of shrinking it?

-It’s free

-When its big its easy to work with

-When its small it’s new, I’ve created something, but there’s still a hint of its old self, some familiarity. And it’s cuter.

-Shrinking brings an addictive element of chance and surprise to the process.


Where did you gain your skills?

I studied jewellery design at the Sydney Institute of Technology Design Centre Enmore. Since then I have developed skills generally through self-directed residencies, then by making jewellery using these skills, and by allowing these skills to evolve through this application.


What is your studio environment like? (I.e. At home, shared space)

Generally I have a simple home-based work-shop.


What does the future hold for you?

For now more shrinking!

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Round bubbles floating up the gallery wall, pom pommed pillows nesting on shelves and puffy glyphs floating about in boxes, these latest offerings from the artist Donna Eddie appear in intimacies and dichotomies a group show comprised of Donna, Christine Wiltshier, Lisa Tilse, and Mollie Rice .

Grace Mackey caught up with Donna to chat about her soft assemblage series.


‘soft assemblage II’, 2014, Nuno Felt, Double Gauze, Calico & Acrylic 400mm (W) x 600mm (H) x 100mm (D), $735

1. How do your works tend to evolve? 

The work itself evolves through the making process. The inspiration for my work comes from a variety of stimulus, personal experiences, books, conversations, unconscious meanderings… I am a bit of a mad maker, and sample profusely. I tend to over-make and then edit. The palate is usually the only thing that is fairly consistent from the beginning. My ideas tend to develop in the making stage and I usually allow the materials response to be the guide for the direction of my work. The decisions on the final work usually come very late, as I tend to have a lot of work to choose from, it makes it much easier

2. Do you feel the need to ‘House’ or give a home to your objects?

It would certainly seem that way wouldn’t it. For me it is important to nurture, and care for the often unwanted and disparate elements within my work, I need to ensure they are contained and in a safe and secure place

3. How does the artist re-instate the indifferent and refuse like object back to a position of consideration? Why is it important to?

I am rather fond of the discarded. There is a real beauty in these often overlooked pieces; they have a curious yet familiar presence. Sometimes they may need a stitch here or there, or a little bit of paint, more often than not, they are left as found. I think they offer such honesty; and create cohesiveness within the work. These objects tend to reveal things in profound and unexpected ways.

WEB_1_Donna_Eddie4. In your soft assemblage series there’s a definite dense and hyper colourful world contained by the sterile perspex cases. It’s as though, in your current works, you’ve been on an expedition to a colourful dimension and captured a variety of specimens. Has museum and specimen display influenced your work at all?

Love your description…Museums to me are a wonderful world of discovery, a place of intrigue, so yes I am most definitely inspired by their display techniques. I love using perspex for my work, it offers very clean lines, and the work/artefact is the focus without distraction. I often use entomology or wig pins to raise the objects up from the 2D surface to create a more sculptural work. I suspect this love of the sculptural form comes from my days working as a milliner

5. What do you feel the exhibition process brings to your practice?

It is always an honour to see my work in a gallery space, but as we know there are a few hard yards to get there. I guess timelines, organisation, and good planning are always part of maintaining longevity in your practice. As far as the process goes, it really makes me consider the importance of the materials and the methodology. For me it is all about trusting my intuition and hoping through the making process the ideas will eventually transcend to the viewer. In one word I would say ‘consideration’.

6. And 3 QuickiesUltramarinepigment

Colour of the month: Ultramarine Blue

Favourite bolt of material: Japanese Double Gauze

Favourite assemblage artist: Eva Hesse

Intimacies and dichotomies  ends Tuesday / October 28.

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The Curio Collector’s Cabinet: Zara Collins

Zara Collins

At the moment the wonderful work of Zara Collins has filled our cabinet! We asked her a few questions to find out more about her work..

Where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration can come from the most surprising places! I have a long held fascination and interest in Asian culture, history, tradition and aesthetic – this underpins my art practise. But I can also be inspired by pattern, texture, discarded ‘everyday’ objects and the desire to learn and play with new materials and techniques.

For example my Orphrey Poison Bottles shape was originally cast from the ‘squeaky toy voice box’ inside my dog’s toy bone. The shape reminded me of Chinese snuff bottles and Victorian vessels for perfume which I was researching at the time.

How do you translate the ideas you have into the jewellery/objects you
I sometimes feel like I have too many ideas going at once and not enough time in the studio to bring them to fruition. But I am sure many artists feel the same way! In my exhibition work I enjoy researching my topic of interest and produce very loose sketches of my ideas. With my production work I tend to dive straight into the making process. Ceramics is such an immediate, tactile material you are intuitively aware of the possibilities in regard to your ideas.

What attracts you to making jewellery/objects and what about it excites you?
To be absolutely honest I enjoy wearing jewellery! In the beginning I liked wearing the pieces I had made and to my surprise other people liked them too. There is a real thrill in seeing your work on a total stranger!

What draws you to ceramics in particular?
After years of working with very hard materials like glass, silver, resins, brass and Perspex; ceramics was a revelation. Ceramics is tactile, sensual, messy and expressive. In many aspects quite a forgiving material and I have so much to learn!

Where did you gain your skills?
I studied Visual Arts for a year at TAFE in Adelaide and Film Studies for a year in Sydney before I completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Glass) at Sydney College of the Arts. Fellow students, friends and colleagues have been very generous teaching me jewellery making skills and tricks along the way, in particular Kat Freene, Kath Inglis and Sue Lorraine who I worked with at the Jam Factory Metal Studio in Adelaide for nine months. My partner is a Visual Arts teacher and artist and he has been an amazing mentor regarding working with ceramics.

How does your production range relate to your exhibition work? How do they
influence one another?
My exhibition work and production work are loosely related but quite separate. The exhibition work is the driving force in my practice at present, but it hasn’t always been this way. It’s like a see-saw in the studio; there are periods where production work is my predominant focus and times where exhibition development is essential.

What is your studio environment like?
At the moment I am working from home in a state of flux! I am about to move my studio to the Illawarra and divide my time between Sydney and the coast. I am really excited about the change of environment and space. I have two kilns, a printing press and a lathe that I have never set up in the one place. Much of the equipment was left to me by my late grandfather and I am eager to set up my studio spaces and develop artworks without a deadline!

What does the future hold for you?
To be honest the last two years have been incredibly busy with my own work and a travelling curatorial project. So the plan is to have no plan! I just want enjoy my new studio space, play with the printing press and slowly develop new jewellery combining ceramics and metal for a future solo exhibition. In 2015 I plan to do an artist-in-residency in Adelaide and travel to Japan.

You can view more of Zara Collins work at her website: 

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Cut From the Same Cloth


Stand by me, 2014 oil on cotton fabric and canvas 61cm x 92cm


Beach bums, 2013 oil on cotton fabic 41cm x 31cm


Market day, 2013 oil on cotton fabric 41cm x 31cm


Endless summer. 2013 oil on cotton fabic and canvas 61cm x 76cm

Leah Mariani’s series of work portrays a close relationship and the bond between people we care about by using fashion as a method, depicting patterns and colours in a colourful manner. It is heartwarming to see two people side by side, letting out their long term friendship, their fond memories of each other and the most genuine love.

– Gallery Volunteer,   Judy Kim

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