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Saffron hand-forges earthy silver jewellery pieces to compliment unique, carefully sourced gemstones like QLD boulder opal

29 March 2019

Designer Spotlight: Treasures By Saffron

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Silversmith on a journey, Saffron: ‘Making my jewellery is very therapeutic… I feel my life has more balance and I am left with a sense of accomplishment, pride and pleasure, and a focus I absolutely love’

Hi, my name is Saffron Harris. I live in Katoomba which is beautiful town in the Blue Mountains, perched on the edge of a cliff and surrounded by national parks. I am married to a software developer who spends his spare time as a local photographer. We have a son who is 14 and a red kelpie dog who is full of beans and love.

A collection of handcrafted silver and gemstone pendant necklaces by Treasures by Saffron

I have always enjoyed being creative and was involved in theatre and performance as a young person. I would often make handmade presents for friends and family just for the pleasure of making something.

Saffron hand-forges earthy silver jewellery pieces to compliment unique, carefully sourced gemstones like QLD boulder opal

When our son was younger we often made things together, getting out the craft box to create treasures big and small. I also handmade some of his most used toys. This was partly due to having a tight budget, but mostly because I love making things and find that I get a sustained joy when they are used.

Saffron at work creating in her garage: ‘I love making things and find that I get a sustained joy when they are used’

I remember hearing a lady speak about endorphins and how people get a rush of them - like a high -from gambling, exercising or shopping. These highs end quickly. She said making things can give you the same endorphin release, but it is more sustained and long lasting. You get highs throughout the making process; when you complete the item, and every time to use it or see it being used afterwards. That really resonates with me as I feel this way.

Handcrafted Queensland boulder opal silver ring by Treasures by Saffron

Jewellery making is something I get a lot of pleasure from doing. I have a day job during the week, so I make most of my jewellery on weekends and do bits and bobs when I get the spare time.

Making my jewellery is very therapeutic and allows my mind to be immersed in what I’m planning and doing. This has helped reduce day-job stress and I feel my life has more balance and I am left with a sense of accomplishment, pride and pleasure, and a focus I absolutely love. I find I now leave work at the front door as my home space is my creating space.

One of Saffron’s home workspaces at an old kitchen table where she designs, cuts, forms and sands her jewellery under close canine supervision

My work space is at home and is split between two areas; I have a space inside the house and in the garage. When I am working inside, our dog is often under the table lying by my feet. Here is where I plan my piece, cut the metal, form the shapes, file, sand and set bezels.

Saffron working with the torch in her garage workshop

The garage is the area I do hammering, work with the torch, pickling and polishing. The garage is a low-light area which is perfect for seeing the metal well when I am working with the torch. My dream is to one day have a dedicated studio space, but for the time being I don’t mind sharing my spaces; I get to be part of the action.

Filing and shaping silver: ‘I knew the only way to learn and improve was to get in there and do it, practice and experiment’

I have an eclectic bunch of tools and work surfaces. When I finished my metal-smith course, I knew the only way to learn and improve was to get in there and do it, practice and experiment.

The number of tools I needed was overwhelming and I didn’t have the funds to buy all the things I needed. So, I built up my tools and equipment slowly, by buying second-hand and new, as well as repurposing items.

Saffron buys some tools second-hand and even makes use of things around the house: ‘Our old BBQ is now my annealing and soldering station at one end, and my rinsing and scrubbing bay at the other’

I use a solid second-hand dining table as my work bench. The first tool I bought was a new butane torch. Our old bbq is now my annealing and soldering station at one end, and my rinsing and scrubbing bay at the other, it is a perfect height and it is fireproof.

At the start I was lucky enough to find a high-end diamond jeweller who was selling off some second-hand tools, they are high quality sturdy tools that I would not have been able to afford new. I treasure these tools and love that they are worn and well used.

Hand-cutting silver for new jewellery pieces

A friend gave me a tree stump which I use to hammer on and another friend had an unused crock pot, which is now in use as a pickle pot, (this is the cleaning solution used on metal after soldering or annealing, the pickle solution needs to be warm to work). I am slowly building up more tools as I go; last year I treated myself to a couple of high-quality texture hammers, which I love to bits.

Saffron holding some of her new silversmithing tools: ‘I have to let go of the fear of wrecking a piece of silver or breaking the odd gem stone

I have found I have to let go of the fear of ‘wrecking’ a piece of silver or breaking the odd gem stone as I learn. There are times when things go a little pear-shaped. I learn from these times and mistakes can be re-used or turned into something new. Sometimes it is through these times I find new ways of doing things.

Sandstone jasper set in a stirling silver pendant: ‘I love to source gems that have a personal story… gems that have been shaped with passion and care show it’

I love to source gems that have a personal story attached, I try to buy stones from lapidarists that are passionate about making their cabachons, or from suppliers that buy direct from the source and have built a good connection with the miners. Gems that have been shaped with passion and care show it, and have a special feel to them. I also love gems that still have natural elements included in their beauty.

A textured sterling silver ring setting ready to be set with a gemstone

I’m not one for drawing plans or measuring things out perfectly. Most things are done freehand, which is why my pieces can have a more organic feeling to them. I tend to work a lot of stuff out in my head and by playing with the shapes and pieces at hand. I will come up with an idea and try it out, if it doesn’t work out, I try something different.

I follow groups and other metal smiths on social media and watch lots of tutorials online. This helps me learn about techniques, handy tools and tricks. It can also give me ideas about shapes and how to connect different parts together.

I am also often guided by the shape and qualities of a gem stone. I love to use gems that have unusual shapes and enjoy the process of creating custom shaped silver bezels and backings.

Handmade silver and boulder opal cuff bracelet with hammered texture by Treasures by Saffron

I love making custom orders with people; I enjoy the process of listening to their ideas, what they like and then creating the piece for them. When someone picks a stone that they are attracted to they become more invested in the piece and it is a real pleasure to then see them wear it and enjoy it.

When I was a kid, I was surrounded by many amazing artists including my very own mother. When my mum was in art school I would go and hang out on the campus and got to see amazing creations being made. I remember being in awe in the jewellery classroom and seeing amazing silver pieces people had made.

Stack of hand forged sterling silver rings of different textures: ‘I love simplistic and sleek as well as rustic and industrial looking items’

I have always loved handmade artisan silver jewellery; silver has always been my favourite precious metal. I have never been attracted to mass produced jewellery pieces and have always liked unusual, unique pieces like those found at markets and artisan shops. I love simplistic and sleek as well as rustic and industrial looking items.

A selection of silver and gemstone statement rings by Treasures by Saffron

Having a preference for silver, I was often disappointed that many stones were set only in gold, so I enjoy being able to source my own gems and set them in silver. I have found other silver lovers and wearers who appreciate it when their favourite stone set in their favourite metal. I love to break a few rules and traditions.

Plus, making my own products gives me control of sourcing supplies ethically and sustainably. I buy all recycled silver sheet and wires, and all my scrap is collected, re-used by me or sent to the supplier to me smelted down and recycled.

Saffron at work in her garage workshop

I love handmade items, knowing that someone has invested a part of themselves in the piece you are holding, you know you are buying a person’s journey and are sharing a part of their passion. I support handmade and artisan products and produce whenever I can.

Saffron at work with the torch in her garage workshop: ‘When you make your own products you have control on sourcing things ethically and sustainably’

Being part of the handmade artisan community, is not just about creating and selling your own things but supporting and encouraging others. It is amazing the talented people that live in our local communities and within our very own country.

A collection of Treasures by Saffron jewellery pieces, boxed and ready for new homes.

I currently sell items through a local artisan shop in Mount Victoria as well as at artisan markets and online. While I would love to one day turn my hobby into my main income earner, I want to preserve jewellery making as an activity I love and enjoy and be able to spend time making beautiful pieces that haven’t had to be rushed. This year I am limiting my market stalls as I want to be spending the lion’s share of my spare time creating and making.

Saffron, the face behind Treasures by Saffron: ‘Making jewellery for me is about the process and journey as well as the finished piece’

I opened a Madeit store about six months after searching for an Australian selling platform and was thrilled to discover Madeit. I love the fact Madeit is an Australian platform just for handmade products. I love the energy that Madeit puts back into its artisans by promoting them and encouraging them. It is a simple platform that is easy to use and makes it a great option to have my online store on. Creators can’t exist without those that support us.

Heavily textured silver shield ring, handcrafted by artisan silversmith, Treasures by Saffron

Making jewellery for me is about the process and journey as well as the finished piece. Currently I am not focussed on making profit out of the pieces I sell but looking at it as a way to replenish my materials and build my tools and skills. I am enjoying the journey and have so much more to learn.

I currently offer free shipping on all my silver, and in conjunction with this article, the next 5 purchases made through my Madeit store will receive a free gift.



Visit Treasures by Saffron to find unique, sustainable silver and gemstone jewellery pieces: treasuresbysaffron

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