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From her home workshop in the picturesque Yarra Valley, self-taught Jewellery Artist, Jenny, wields fire to create one-of-a-kind jewellery pieces from mixed metals, gemstones, ceramics and more.

14 January 2022

Designer Spotlight: Fickle Fancies Jewellery

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Self-taught, fulltime Jewellery Artist, Jenny: ‘I grew up believing that if I wanted to do something, I could go find the information and teach myself’

My name is Jenny. I am a self-taught jewellery artist and the owner and designer behind the scenes at Fickle Fancies Jewellery. I live in the leafy green loveliness of the Yarra Valley in Victoria with my family, and I work out of a small corner of a dusty shed, where I have carved out my own space to create handmade, custom and one-of-a-kind jewellery using silver, mixed metal, gemstones, ceramics and glass.

A pair of handcrafted silver necklaces with large Labradorite pendants featuring intricate silver detailing by Fickle Fancies Jewellery

Despite my best intentions, my creative process is random and spontaneous, very much working to its own schedule and showing up when it feels like it. Sometimes I sit with my tablet to draw and design, sometimes it's pencil and paper, but more often than not I will find myself at the bench surrounded by metal and gemstones, fitting pieces together to see where it takes me.

A collection of blue and white Scottish sea pottery pendant necklaces and earrings all handcrafted by Fickle Fancies Jewellery

I like the idea of creating collections, and I have had success with this approach more recently, but I always seem to meander back to whatever thing inspires me in the moment.

From her home workshop in the picturesque Yarra Valley, self-taught Jewellery Artist, Jenny, wields fire to create one-of-a-kind jewellery pieces from mixed metals, gemstones, ceramics and more.

I find my inspiration in all sorts of places; the curve of a leaf, the geometry of architecture, the colours of nature and always the artistry of fellow artists and craftspeople. Whenever I find myself at a loss for inspiration, immersing myself in the vibrant, fascinating worlds of other artists will always bring me back to a creative space.

A handful of small jewellery hammers and assorted tools of Jenny’s trade: ‘Immersing myself in the vibrant, fascinating worlds of other artists will always bring me back to a creative space’

My interest in jewellery-making began when I saw a photo of a pair of earrings that I really wanted. When I couldn't find anywhere to buy them, I decided that there was no reason I couldn't make them myself and set about learning the basic techniques required.

Safety glasses on – Jenny at work on a piece of silver jewellery in her home workshop; ‘I come from a family of musicians, artists and makers of things’

I come from a family of musicians, artists and makers of things, where we were encouraged to learn, explore and create. I grew up believing that if I wanted to do something, I could go find the information and teach myself, and that is essentially what I have always done.

A pair of bold statement hammered copper dangle earrings by Fickle Fancies Jewellery’

Over the years this belief has found me making candles, knitting, crocheting, playing instruments, singing, drawing, painting, spinning and dyeing yarn, and many other things. This tendency to skip from hobby to hobby has at times been a source of frustration for me, but it also gave me my business name - Fickle Fancies.

An assortment of tools, crystals, jewellery wire, stones, and settings in progress on Jenny’s workshop table

I started out making simple beaded earrings, and in 2010 I opened my Madeit shop. Madeit looks great, is easy to use and comes with an inspiring community of local makers built right in. It is scalable, which allows those just starting out to dip a toe in the eCommerce world without spending a lot of money or needing significant expertise. Being part of an Australian community of makers feels like the right fit for my handmade business.

A ring setting and piece of seaglass ready to be combined on Jenny’s worktable; ‘I collected tools, metal and gemstones and then… I learned to wield fire!’

It surprised me by taking off quite quickly, and as my skills grew, I moved away from pre-fabricated assembly and began to explore more complicated techniques. I collected tools, metal and gemstones and then... I learned to wield fire! That changed everything.

A ring-setting waiting on a stone sits face-down on Jenny’s work table; ‘Reluctantly I put the tools down and went back to my day job’

As interest in my work grew it became clear that this hobby might actually be becoming a business. I didn’t know the first thing about running a proper business, and I didn’t really want to. So, reluctantly I put the tools down and went back to my day job, leaving my shop sit idle for a number of years.

A one-of-a-kind sterling silver floral band ring set with yellow seaglass

2020 brought big challenges to most of us, and it became clear that it was time to make a change. We had spent nine months living away from home due to renovations we had started just before COVID19 undid everyone’s plans. By September we were finally able to move in, but most of our home was in the shed... and my bench was completely inaccessible.

Coffee and design tools on Jenny’s workshop table, and behind a small lamp shines on the busy workbench where she constructs her jewellery pieces; ‘While I waited for the inevitable bad news from my employer, I started to carve a path back to my workspace’

While I waited for the inevitable bad news from my employer, I started to carve a path back to my workspace, and set about the process of learning what I needed to do to register as a business. Then, I re-opened my shop. My day job wrapped up in May of this year, and now I am working full time making jewellery, which has been a huge and exciting change and challenge.

Oh .. and I never did make myself those earrings!

‘Full Moon’: Stirling silver bezel pendant with a hammered finish set with rainbow moonstone

Handmade is about love, isn't it? That's how I feel about it. Knowing that the item you have purchased has been held in the hands of its creator. Dreamed up, sketched, mulled over countless times. Shown proudly to long-suffering partners and children.

Jenny concentrating on using a fine bansaw to create a jewellery setting; ‘Extending that support to other makers, is so important’

When you buy handmade, you are supporting someone's dream, and as a creative person working to make my living in this space, I feel the value of sharing that understanding with our communities, and extending that support to other makers, is so important.

A ring in metal forceps and the polished silver setting beside it await the fire that will combine them into a single piece of jewellery.

From a creative perspective, I like to re-use and recycle, often finding old pieces of jewellery in op shops or at markets and dreaming up ways to re-purpose them. I love to take elements which have been discarded, like sea glass and pottery, and use them to create unique pieces of jewellery, giving them a second chance to be worn and hopefully treasured. The idea that these things could tell an interesting story fascinates me, even though we may only ever imagine what that story might be.

’Bubbles’ A pair of statement copper hoop earrings with hammered finish by Fickle Fancies Jewellery

From a business point of view, the skills and values I learned from my years volunteering and working in community education and administration have provided me with a great framework for how I like to deal with my suppliers, other businesses and most importantly - my customers. I try to bring those values of transparency, honesty and kindness to every interaction I have.

Jenny is offering Madeit’s community newsletter subscribers 10% off at Fickle Fancies Jewellery for a limited time. Subscribe below to get the coupon, plus weekly handmade shopping guides, designer spotlight stories and discounts:



Visit Fickle Fancies Jewellery to find more one-of-a-kind artisan jewellery pieces: FickleFancies

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