Today I show you GESINE HACKENBERG’s work, she does a few works very interesting in jewellery, and especially today we show you her series “Ceramic Jewellery”. Gesine tells us how she began, how she organizes her work, the happy moments and terrible moments of her profession … I hope you like it!

A4_GESINE HACKENBERG_peacock feet ring kopie
A5_GESINE HACKENBERG_fish kitchen necklace 2008 kopie
A7_GESINE HACKENBERG_schildersproef 2010 kopie
A9_GESINE HACKENBERG_G. Hackenberg_drilling
A10_GESINE HACKENBERG_G. Hackenberg in atelier
A11_GESINE HACKENBERG_ in atelier 2

I have really liked your concept about placing ordinary objects of use in the perspective of jewellery, how did you get to it?
my jewellery is based on my own interests…. Coming from a goldsmithing background I think I got I kind of bored working within the classic parameters of ‘jewellery.’ I wanted to broaden my view. My work is an ongoing investigation of every day life and bringing these ideas and objects into jewellery. My first investigation of this began during my final year at the Rietveld Academie, where I tried to find connections and similarities where an object (spoons) has an intimate function comparable to jewellery.

I find very funny your “Ceramic Jewellery Collection”, how do you do it?
…. Funny comment to consider my “Ceramic Jewellery Collection” as funny….
First a plate is discovered from an antique shop. And then, I start drilling the discs out manually with a drilling machine. Once the drilling has begun, the design of the piece emerges based on the placement of each drilled hole from the plate. Once all the ‘pearls’ have been drilled, a small channel is carved around the circumference of the pearl in order to string them together for a necklace. For brooches, earings and rings, the design is also determined based on the placement of the drilling, but instead silver settings are made to hold each pearl in the piece.

When did you begin your own business? Was it hard?
I started right away in 2001 after graduating from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. Yes, making author jewellery is a hard business and not easy to earn your butter on the bread. This profession has to be your passion. It asks commitment to spend every free minute that you have on your work.
Like so many others I started with another small job as eg a gallery assistant to earn the basic income. After a while, my work was consistent enough to ask also for grants. Slowly by slowly I gained a reputation in my field and I do sell now on a regularly base.
Still now, making jewellery is my main profession but I earn my money with different facets: I’m a technical metal smithing teacher at the Vakschool Edelsmeden in Amsterdam and since 2011 I also teach jewellery on a conceptual level at the Object & Jewellery department of the MAD-Faculty in Hasselt (BE). Sometimes I’m happy to be invited giving paid lectures on my work…

You fabricate by hand every object you make?
Every piece I make is all done by hand. I do the ceramic drilling myself in my studio and each bezel is made custom to that specific ‘pearl.’ There is the possibility of having the ‘pearls’ cut out by water jet, but this technique isn’t flexible when working on a piece and is very expensive. I am not against using other methods of production, but in the end of actually finishing the piece it really doesn’t save me any time.
In the end, this appears to happen with almost every collection. I somehow find within every technique I use a niche where eg computer aided techniques or big production series don’t make sense. I like working with my hands, expressing myself in a visual way. Hands do think, they are a prolongation of the brain.

For whom you fabricate these pieces? Do you ever imagine the final client?
I am fabricating pieces for everyone that appreciates high quality craftsmanship, concept, technical skill and passion. Galleries usually sell my work because they have the clientele who is willing to pay for jewellery within these parameters.
Within the “Ceramic Jewellery Collection”, the ceramic necklaces are major pieces with the strongest image that draw the customer in, while rings tend to be a more affordable option within the series.
Well, yes, I try to take in account several possible types of customers. When working in a higher price range of arts and craft, your customers are usually at least middle ageds. Whenever possible I try to design also a little simpler though still strong models within my collections.

Do you work by your own ? How do you deal with lows and highs?
Yes, I work on my own. Sometimes, I work with an assistant or intern. That is pleasant and often helps me to stay sharp about my own little business since you have to communicate about what exactly you’re doing. Though teaching them what I’m doing hardly helps me to increase my production.
I have several series of works I can work on if I feel stuck on a new piece. I never feel like I don’t know what to work on as there are many facets within the jewellery I make. My production is pretty small and I’m always ways to ambitious in what I would like to make. My head is rather busting.

How your ideas come up? Which ones are your sources of inspiration?
The concepts I work with are an ongoing story of everyday life. Concepts never pop up just like that. It is real work to develop an initial idea and bring it into visual forms. Working out new facets of these concepts usually develops through researching and by this bringing up new images or associations. A main source of inspiration in the end is art, design and jewellery history which I try to connect to my own life.

Are you influenced by anyone?
Conceptually, I am probably somehow influenced by my former teachers and how I have learned to approach my ideas. Sometimes I still imagine having a little Iris Eichenberg on one shoulder and a Ruudt Peters on the other, evaluating my current work like they did when I was in university. It is good to have them there, it keeps me sharp. Though they nowadays probably have different criteria there on shoulder (*_*)
But above all, I am most influenced by daily life and my fascinations. Also different projects that I’m invited to, direct my work by making a piece for that.

Do you spend time in your work to publications or other media to make yourself known and increase sales, or you have someone to help you?
Answering your questions belong to this side of the business, don’t you think so?
I am making my work out of passion, but it is still a business. Eg having artistic images that express the concept is very important and that is how so many people know my works. Investing in a good photographer is very worthwhile and I probably have in a lot of cases publications through museums and galleries because I had good images.
But in the end, I’m not very good in marketing and do not spend too much/enough time to be really commercial. It stops when I don’t find a way of putting an artistic level to it.

Which would be your ideal project?
Working on my different jewellery collections is the ideal project. Having days working in the studio is precious time dedicated to my jewellery.

Tell us how a normal day in your work is
There are different facets of my work and different days. Sometimes I get up very early in the morning to drive to Belgium and teach at the MAD-Faculty. Another day I have to spend totally on the computer. A day in the atelier is starting with e-mails and once that is done I shut the computer down so I can focus on making. At the end of the day, I have to fetch my daughter and I would spend quality time with her and my boyfriend. Usually I have to return to the computer in the evenings and nights.
Every few months I have a list of what projects need to be worked on and what pieces need to be done and prioritize them. Through this planning, I can work on different projects in the same time and let them grow.
Today I am working on the Daily Delicious series and am making apples and cherries out of copper (*_*)

Which has been your biggest success?
My biggest success is having a family and also being able to continue making my works and working in my atelier. Surviving the economic crisis with what I like to do..

What is beauty for you?
Beauty is something that I can connect with. I really like things that are made to last, this includes authenticity, cleverness and craftsmanship.

What is the most difficult and the one you like more in your work?
The most difficult is making good and strong works. I always like the most recent works that I’ve made. Right now the most recent series is “Daily Delicious”.

Which one has been your biggest success?
The most published piece is probably the ceramic necklaces. Sometimes I make one from a really valuable and antique plate. Those bring up the discussion of whether I am diminishing or adding value to the plate. … (*_*)
Right at the moment I’m trying to bring the “Daily Delicious”series to a success.

What is your biggest dream for the future?
My biggest dream is that I always can continue to work in this field while developing myself and maintaining the artistic quality and craft of the jewellery.

Any advice?
Be honest and do what you’re passionate about.


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