Friday, November 18, 2011

Meet Your Maker: Larissa Kemp from Little Lari

Larissa Kemp is the silversmith behind her jewellery label Little Lari. Her work is beautifully handcrafted from her Hobart Studio from recycled silver. I recently caught up with Larissa to chat about her background and the methods behind her jewellery practice. 

S: Tell us a little bit about your background. What path has led you to what you do now?
LK: I spent 5 years of my high school in New Zealand which was the beginning of my passion for jewellery. We were taught how to do bone carving, and I have never stopped. It was only when I moved to Hobart from Sydney about 8 years ago that I did a two year course in art, craft and design, majoring in jewellery. I worked for a bronze sculptor for a while which also gave me a different take on working with metal and my partner Benis is a Blacksmith, so that also has a big influence on me. I have always been creating things it just took me a while to find a medium that was right for me. So long as I am doing something with my hands, I am happy. 
S: What does a typical day at work involve for you?

LK: It involves rugging up and heading out to my little, yet cold, green shed in the back yard with a coffee, procrastinating for a bit (I'm really good at that) and then making stock for any orders. If I have none, I get to play and make new things all whilst singing badly to loud music.
S: You primarily use recycled silver in your designs. Can you tell us the reasons behind this decision?

LK: The reason behind using recycled silver is for environmental reasons. I was bought up to know and ask where things come from. Metal is a very dirty product. As shiny and pretty as it is when we finish with it, it started out from a great big hole in the ground. I believe the less holes we make in the ground the better.

S: What processes do you go through to get to a finished piece, in particular your stitched pieces?
LK: I start with a very thin sheet of metal and I chop it into a disk, then hammer it on an anvil to give it texture. I then put it on my favorite stump (given to me by another blacksmith) and hammer it into a hole to give it shape, then I drill out the holes for the stitches and solder the stem in ready to go into the tumbler to get polished. After it has been polished I can sit on the couch after dinner and stitch all the pretty colours in to make pretty flowers.
S: In a world that’s increasingly mass-produced, what challenges and triumphs have you experienced in creating pieces that are hand made from start to finish?

LK: I can't recall any challenges from the mass produced world, I think if there is any it just comes from peoples' ignorance of what made by hand means and how long it takes. It's not just buying components and putting them together, it's making something from start to finish with your own hands. When I get to go to markets and sell my jewellery it's so lovely to hear peoples' comments on your work - makes you feel all fluffy inside.

S: When starting a new body of work, where do you turn to for inspiration and ideas?

LK: For inspiration I normally take that from nature, and from what scraps of metal are sitting on my work bench. My best ideas so far have come from what I have in front of me, and one of my many ideas floating around in my brain will find it's way out. Ideas give me sleepless nights.

S: What are your future plans for Little Lari designs?
  LK: I'm not very good at plans I can make them but I don't seem to stick to them. I dream of makeing more sculptural pieces but only time will tell. 

Thanks Larissa - we look forward to seeing what's next in store for you! In the meantime, as well as our extensive range of Little Lari earrings, Stockroom has just received a lovely new shipment of Little Lari necklaces and brooches - check them out!