Featured Seller: Theresa Burger Jewellery Designer
1. Who is Theresa Burger? Tell us a little something about yourself.
I like to think of myself a creative person who way always going to end up doing something in some sort of creative field. I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa and immigrated to Dublin with my parents when I was 16, I finished my leaving cert here. At the time I didn’t have a concrete idea as to what I wanted to go and study, since a kid I always dreamt of becoming an artist. That however didn’t happen and in 2004, I applied for a jewellery design and manufacture degree at CPUT in Cape Town where I stayed and spent over 5 years there. The course was intensive but great; it’s provided me with a solid base across many aspects of making jewellery. When I completed the course I decided I wanted a change of pace and scenery, I thought studying further would broaden my abilities and provide me with some creative challenges. I applied in early 2010 to partake in NCAD’s MA Design degree, I was accepted and promptly moved back to Ireland.
My Masters project has kept me busy since Oct 2010, I finish at the end of May this year. It’s been everything I wanted and more. I ended up venturing into a side of jewellery manufacture that I hadn’t expected too. I have incorporated CADCAM and 3D printing into my practice and these tools are the basis for my MA project. The work for the collection gravitated towards using CAD software and rapid prototyping fabrication techniques in order to manufacture work that would be unable to produce using more tradition methods. Other than college work, I was able to set up a small studio in my parent’s garage where I am able to do bench work and keep myself busy with a few individual commissions and work for markets or fairs.
2. When did you know you were going to be a jewellery designer?
This was only something that had seriously occurred to be about 4 years into studying my degree. That’s about the time that I became far more confident in my abilities as a designer and maker, it’s when I started to realise that what I was making, people might actually love to wear.
3. Where does your inspiration come from?
It come from any place, I am fascinated by many things that I will use within work I have done. In the past I have been drawn to everything from heirlooms, my own family tree to ritualistic tribal tattooing. Currently, for my project I have been investigating the Zulu of Southern Africa for the collection of work, with their colourful with bold patterns and symbolic motifs. They formed the basis of the visual research that inspired this projects collection. They have incredibly rich jewellery traditions and I have been heavily influenced by their patterns and colours used within their bead working and basket weaving.
4. What is your creative process?
For me everything begins with drawing and sketching. Some makers think through making but I am not one of them. For me to start anything and for it to be successful I need to have mapped it out in my brain and see it on paper. So yes, I will start with an initial idea and will then research things further. Visit NCAD’s library, go to exhibitions, research online and slowly gather up my visual ‘help’. Designs will then start to develop on paper and I will process them then further till I am happy with the finalized piece. Depending on the process I use to manufacture, I will either take it to the bench or to the computer. Where I guess you could say ‘the magic’ happens.
5. Who has been most influential in your craft?
In my life personally, most probably my mother’s father, he was many things throughout his life but practiced as a blacksmith for a lot of it. I was close to him growing up and in my early twenties; he showed me what true passion for knowledge is. Also that one is never bound by the boxes we are placed into and labelled …craftmaker, artist or designer; if we want we can be all of these things and more. It’s just up to us to go out and acquire the knowledge we need to make what we want happen, this is good advice for life too :)
6. What is your favourite piece in your collection?
Right now is a pair of earrings I made late last year. They are part of my collection for my MA project. What I love about them is their size, they are huge and bold. I dyed them brown because they are based on early Zulu earplugs called ‘Amashaza’, these were wooden discs inlayed with mosaicked plastic. I wanted a neutral earthy colour. They are 3D printed out of nylon so they are light in weight and durable in strength.
7. Can you tell us what you are currently working on? What will we see in your new collection?
At the moment, I am busy finishing up my MA degree collection; still a lot needs to happen before the end of May. The work is predominantly 3D printed and will be large and bold collection of colourful work. At the moment I have been playing with large oversized bangles and am moving on to neckpieces soon. The NCAD graduate exhibition show starts in June 2012 and runs for 3 weeks. I also have work in a show titled 'Jewellery As Art' at the Cill Rialaig, Art Centre in Ballinskelligs, Co.Kerry.