Recently I was lucky enough to have a chat with Kim Victoria Wearne of Bonfire Folk, to get an insight into her diverse jewellery making practice. Between dusting off Enid Blyton books and brandishing flame torches, Kim is quite the explorer when it comes to making fine jewellery.
KW: Bonfire Folk is the name of an Enid Blyton story book that my sister and I loved when we were children. We were cleaning out our book collection when we came across the title and both agreed that it would be the perfect name for my jewellery business! It evokes magical and slightly shadowy figures dancing around a crackling fire. I think that I am one of those creatures in my head. And I am regularly wielding a flaming torch during the production of my work.
SR: Tell us a little bit about your background. How long have you been making jewellery for and what path has led you to what you do now?
KW: My career path began in interior design. I studied at RMIT and learned model making skills from some wonderfully talented people, including a jeweler. Gradually my work became as much about the models I was making as what they represented and I began to think about the power of the object. I went back to University 5 years ago to study Gold and Silversmithing and love it so much.
SR: Do you design and create each piece independently or do you employ staff or outsource to have these pieces made?
KW: At the moment, I am still a one-woman show. All the pieces are designed and made by me. I am beginning to dabble in new technologies though and the “Small World” collection is the first step in that process. Basically I draw the pieces in a 3d modeling program and then they are printed and cast. I then finish the pieces by hand.
SR: Can you give us a little bit of insight to the day-to-day operation of your business? What does a typical day involve for you?
KW: The morning begins with 2 weetbix and coffee with my dog Aero. The days are then divided between sitting at my work bench filing, sawing, soldering and polishing. There are also trips to suppliers, pieces to model and private commissions to work on. I try to take a break and go down to my local coffee shop, Luncheonette, which is run by a wonderfully creative friend and frequented by many other artists and designers in the area. It can get a bit lonely working by myself so I love this time to chat to like-minded people. Then, back to the studio for more bench work.
SR: With names like ‘into the fire’ and ‘small world’, your pieces evoke a sense of fantasy and whimsy. What inspires you when designing your ranges?
KW: To be honest, I am not a huge fan of reality so making jewellery gives me an opportunity to operate within the realms of imagination. I am very conscious of the wearer of my jewellery and enjoy the idea that they are carrying around a secret– for example, the tiny birds and branches cupped inside the “Small World” ring. The focus is also on making pieces that are well made from high quality materials.
KW: At the moment I am working on a new collection that incorporates highly detailed motifs and some precious stones. I absolutely love making commission pieces for weddings and special occasions too so hope to keep developing this side of my business.
SR: What Bonfire Folk piece/s are you wearing right now?
KW: A gold Small World ring!
Thanks Kim! What a great insight into the way you work and the ideas behind your beautiful pieces! You can find a gorgeous range of jewellery by Bonfire Folk at Stockroom - we have just had a delivery of the classic rings (pictured above), so there are plenty of styles and sizes to choose from!