My name is Maria and I am the hands and heart of O Bliss Jewellery. I live with my husband and three teenage children in the Gold Coast hinterland in sunny Queensland, Australia. My studio sits just off the living room, so I can tinker away at my jeweller’s bench while still participating in the hubbub of family life.
After graduating university 20 years ago, I worked as a ceramic artist and for the past eight years have enjoyed a richly rewarding career as a high school art teacher. While teaching has stretched me as an artist, that intrinsic need for a personal creative outlet languished. Fate stepped in when I found myself supervising a group of students in a one-day silversmith workshop. I was captivated, and enrolled in night classes soon after. My creativity has found new life in silver.
The process of designing jewellery is somewhat organic. Many pieces are the result of “play” while others start as sketches in my journal. Nature’s forms have been a constant source of inspiration in my art practice over the years and are very present in my jewellery. I work with basic silversmithing tools and techniques, such as saw cutting sterling silver sheets and wire, soldiering pieces together with a torch, filing faceted edges and hammering to create gentle textures and forms. Believing that less is more, I tend to gravitate towards minimalist design.
Finding a presence online can feel overwhelming, but through photography a personal language has emerged that creates a point of difference. The O Bliss look found life while photographing a new ring. Bored with the wooden hand that dominated too many listings, I picked up a bird statue from a shelf, wiped off the dust and suddenly the ring became a crown. I love finding a prop to use when photographing new work; it is even better when the prop creates a story or theme.
Since launching O Bliss in January, Etsy has become an addiction. As an old-school marketer, I find this new era of online global selling terribly exciting. There is buzz that comes from sending parcels to places I dream of visiting. The hours once spent at craft markets are now spent photographing, listing items, blogging and participating in the wonderful Etsy community.
A major motivation for selling on Etsy is to model for my students (and daughter) the viability of art as a career pathway and also to teach conscious consumerism. While every student will not become a practicing artist, it is my hope that they will all become supporters of the arts. I love it when a student excitedly shares with me their latest handmade Etsy purchase. I am also committed to minimizing environmental impact by using recycled metal sourced from a local Australian merchant when possible, rather than materials obtained from mines.
My shop is a blissful retreat from the frantic pace of teaching. Working at my bench, I become fascinated with the minutia: the elegance created by a filed edge, the change in texture from a few extra taps of the hammer, the glow of orange when silver scraps melt into a ball – these present quiet moments and simple pleasures. My soul is refreshed, my creative impulse is satisfied and I return to the classroom revitalized.
All photos by O Bliss Jewellry.