I found this great (unattributed) quote on Pinterest: ‘I don’t think outside the box; I think of what I can do with the box’ which I think perfectly sums up today’s interviewee, Louisa Jenyns, who creates ‘new’ jewellery and accessories from pieces of vintage jewellery and watch parts.
Like everyone who upcycles, recycles and re-creates, Louisa finds beauty in the old, the pre-loved and the no-longer-wanted and loves to create ‘a whole new kind of beauty or art that has its own story’.
Please tell us about yourself – where are you from, what is your background and how have you ended up where you are today?
I’m a Queensland gal but my parents moved a lot so I’ve lived everywhere from lovely Melbourne to a country New South Wales farm to sunny Brisbane with a stint in Papua New Guinea for good measure. But I met and married the best man I have ever met 14 years ago in Brisbane and have remained here since.
When and why did you begin exploring/ working with vintage jewellery?
My love for vintage started when I was a teen. My parents worked for a not-for-profit organisation and we often did it tough financially which meant it was a struggle to follow the trends of my peers, so I created my own and vintage clothing became my unique expression! I fell in love with the quirky designs and patterns and the fact that each one was so unique. It was only a matter of time before my love spread to the textures and designs of other objects and to love the workmanship and history behind each piece – whether it’s an old watch movement, a chandelier drop or an off-cast brooch. And then I began teaming different pieces together to create a whole new kind of beauty or art that has its own story.
Where do you source the jewellery and watch parts from?
I source most of my watch parts and antique chandelier parts from Europe but get some American pieces from time to time to create a little more diversity.
Tell us about the creative process and how you go about making each piece?
My creative process is rather chaotic! I get my best ideas from seeing things that wouldn’t normally belong together sitting next to each other begging to be created into something new. Hence my workbench, desks and sometimes floor resemble a titanic explosion and a vintage jewellery factory-cum-time machine.
Apart from your work, what other interests or hobbies do you have?
My main interest is my family, hubby, two sweet boys and darling little girl. But I’m also a singer/songwriter and have some amazing muso friends and a great church family that I love hanging out with too. You can also find me enjoying scouring op shops from time to time and passing on my addiction to the friends I drag along with me.
How important is upcycling and sustainability in your work, work practices and home life?
Upcycling is the centrepiece of my work, redeeming the old, and lost and discarded and giving it new life. It seems tragic to cast such beautiful pieces away when someone has so precisely and often lovingly invested so much in creating them. In terms of my personal life, my family and a group of friends are planning to move into a community together where we’ll grow much of our own produce, join the tiny house moment and try and live in a way that is sustainable – environmentally, economically, personally and spiritually. It’s a big dream but we’re planning on beginning next year, which is exciting!
What’s one thing other people may not know about you?
People may not know that I am a dreamer of epic proportions, and that I long to see people and nations rise to become redemptive voices and reshape our world to end poverty and all forms of slavery. I really want my business to be shaped around that, so a portion of every cufflink sale goes to rescuing girls from sex slavery in Cambodia and enabling them to start their own businesses.
It’s not very cool, but I really like … hideous 60s and 70s wallpapers. The clashing and sometimes revolting colour combinations make me smile and put a spring in my step.
Have you had a ‘who’d have thought’ moment?
I think I have a ‘who’d have thought’ moment every time I see what others in the creative community are doing. At the top of my list of things to do is make a coffee table from discarded books.