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An interview with jeweller Kate Bajic

Kate Bajic is currently exhibiting her jewellery at the Design-Nation showcase selling exhibition at the National Centre for Craft & Design. She was also at MADE London last weekend but we managed to catch up, to ask a few questions about her practice and work with Design-Nation.

Design-Nation asked: Please tell us about your practice and how your business began.

Kate Bajic answered: I have been working as a studio jeweller since graduating with a silversmithing/jewellery BA in 2003 from Loughborough University. I was fortunate that straight from graduating I was offered a series of exhibitions and opportunities to display my work in galleries, so as soon as I could I set up my own studio and began to produce new collections of work.

D-N: Who has been your most influential teacher or mentor?

K.B: There are many makers and creatives who inspire me so it would be difficult to say just one who has influenced. Artists and sculptors like Barbara Hepworth and Andy Goldsworthy, jewellers like Jacqueline Ryan and clay artists like Phoebe Cummings, to name just a few of them.

D-N: What inspires you?

K.B: Inspiration for me comes from studying natural structures; currently the varied shapes, forms and chemical structures found in lichen. Their diversity offers a rich source of design material and I photograph and collect different species whenever possible. My work has always had a natural feel with initial collections being influenced by movement and repetition in nature. My interest in science has increased with the opportunity to complete a studio practice MA in 2014 and then go on to do a short residency at Lincoln University where I worked with scientists in the School of Life Sciences.

D-N: Please tell us about your design process.

K.B: I work mainly by hand and am passionate about preserving traditional jewellery techniques alongside embracing new technology. I don’t tend to draw out ideas, rather I work in paper models or straight with the material seeing where it takes me. I use both base metals and precious metals in my work and am interested in incorporating different techniques and materials into my jewellery. Designs evolve and develop through experimentation with composition, playing with contrasting colours and adding textural details.

D-N: What is the best thing to have happened in your business to date?

K.B: Being invited to sell my jewellery at the Museum of Art & Design LOOT exhibition in New York. Not only was it a fantastic opportunity to meet new clients and be in wonderful surroundings, but I also got to meet fellow jewellers from across the globe.

D-N: What is your workspace like?

K.B: After several years of working in the workshop at the back of my in-laws garage, I was able to get a purpose built studio in my own garden at home which I love. I could always fit more tools and equipment in there but it is perfect for me at the moment and gives me the flexibility of being able to work whenever I want to, with just a short walk up the garden.

D-N: Do you work hard on your PR or do others help you to market your business?

K.B: I spend a lot of time on social media, but it is a great resource for creative businesses to get their work seen globally by people who have similar interests and practices as well as future clients and galleries. I also have a bi-monthly newsletter which I send out and the option to sign up to it on my website. Currently I manage all the PR on my own which can be time consuming and challenging when you’re working with different technologies which you may not be familiar with.

D-N: What are the main challenges in your practice?

K.B: Finances are always a challenge, also time and energy. It is difficult to consistently create work of a high standard if you are struggling to pay for materials or are feeling low. I think all creatives must face these challenges, but for me I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I try to manage my time to give me a life balance where my creativity still has time to develop and grow.

D-N: Where would you like your practice to be in 10 years?

K.B: I would like to still be creating and still be learning. I don’t think you ever achieve an end result in a creative practice; it grows and develops as you do. I hope I still have a workspace I can escape to and that what I am producing is appreciated and desired by some.

D-N: If you could collaborate with someone new who would that be?

K.B: I have been lucky to have collaborated several times with other jewellers and also ceramic artists and textile artists. I think if I could choose someone new to work with then I would love to be involved in a project with someone completely different like Luke Jerram. His installation Museum of the Moon is incredibly moving, while his work with glass microbiology was fascinating and beautiful.

D-N: If you weren’t a designer what would you like to do?

K.B: I would have liked to work as part of an organisation working to protect natural environments or to be able to work with wildlife in some way. I’m very nature based, definitely not a city dweller.

D-N: Why did you join Design-Nation? What is helpful about being a member?

K.B: I have been a member of Design Factory / Design-Nation for many years now. Initially it was great having the support of a local group and all the networking and exhibition opportunities it offered. When the groups merged and became Design-Nation it has offered different opportunities but they are still relevant. I have taken part in several group exhibitions and have been able to join subsidised group stands at national events, which have been beneficial in promoting my work and my practice.

D-N: Do you have you any exhibitions, commissions or events coming up that we should know about?

K.B: Yes I’m off to Amsterdam next week to take part in an international jewellery fair called SIERAAD, it’s my second time there and I’m very much looking forward to being back!

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Clare Edwards


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