What better way to re-use grandma’s old china or upcycle broken crockery than by turning it into wearable ‘modern’ jewellery?
My first interview of the year combines two of my loves: ceramics and jewellery. Searching for a career change and fearing she was becoming a china hoarder, Dutch maker Bregjes Weterings turned her back on teaching to create a new business …
Jewellery maker Bregje Weterings
Can you please introduce yourself – tell us about your background and how you’ve got to where you are today?
I’m Bregje Weterings, 31 years old, a collector and unstoppable creative living in The Netherlands. I am an Amsterdam lover who likes to travel, an up-cyclist, positive thinker, to-do list lover, history freak. For 12 years I taught youngsters to read and write and now I am the founder of BregjesDesign.
Just like my mum, sister, uncle and little sister I became a teacher and it felt really good. I taught for 12 years and had a great time both in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Despite this, I decided to change course. Not because I had to, was forced to or was burned out, but because I wanted more in life than only one job direction. I have always enjoyed creating new things and after a period of searching, I decided to combine my passion for jewellery (statement rings to be exact) and granny’s china.
When and why did you begin exploring with the idea of turning china pieces into jewellery?
I’m a collector trying to stop myself having an overload of stuff. I don’t want to end up like a lunatic with no more space left to live in because of ‘the collection’! For the sake of my relationship and the space in our house, I had to set some boundaries. It started with six beautiful egg cups. Then six cake plates, six cups and saucers; six breakfast plates and six dinner plates followed. All beauties with flowers on them and gold edges, straight from granny’s china. I found them all around me: recycle stores, vintage markets, bric-a-brac fairs and my family’s attics. With the completion of my collection I had to stop looking, no more searching, the end of collecting. That was hard.
In the mean time I was such a proud owner [of the china]. I liked it so much but I missed the search. And then, the inevitable happened. A beautiful plate fell and smashed into many pieces. A personal disaster.
This gave me the opportunity to search for a new item to restore the collection to six plates. Plus, I had a box filled with beautiful shards. What to do with those? I could not throw them away. That’s when I came up with my business plan for ‘BregjesDesign’ – giving these beautiful broken pieces a second life.
In my store you can find jewellery made from these shards – rings, necklaces and brooches. All with beautiful and soft edges. They are sanded, milled and glazed to be perfect wearable items. Some of the jewellery has more than one shard and is glued together with the ‘kintsugi’ technique, which makes it even more beautiful. [‘Kintsugi’ is a Japanese method for repairing broken ceramics with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. The philosophy behind it is to recognise the history of the object and to visibly incorporate the repair into the new piece instead of disguising it].
Where do you find the china?
Anywhere that sells old stuff. I even create cycling tours in my area to visit as many recycle stores as possible.
Can you share a bit about the creative process …
- Where do your ideas come from?
Brain farts, you know them? Hard to explain, but they come and go. Very unexpectedly. But when it happens, they can keep me awake for hours. Thinking of new ways to do or create. This happened with the pieces of my first broken plate. Hours later the concept of my store was there, settled in my head, in the middle of the night. The only thing left to do was to make it happen and … sleep!
I was a fan of the ‘kintsugi’ technique for many years and wanted to merge this into my concept and it was a great success.
- How do you like to work?
I’m blessed with a beautiful workspace. Sitting in my conservatory, full of light with nature all around me. I like to work in silence and secretly talk out loud to myself. Sometimes I have this longing to listen to music and I always turn to the beautiful ‘Ludovico Einaudi’.
- What inspires you?
My granny. And all the good feelings left. I had the most amazing childhood spending a lot of weekends at my granny and grandpa’s farmhouse. I loved it and still miss it. It’s a good feeling to wear a little piece to remember them and those days.
What are some of your important tools of trade?
For me it’s very important to pick the right china, beautiful and different. Then there is the ‘kintsugi’ technique that distinguishes ‘BregjesDesign’ from others. I don’t like adjustable rings with painful sliders. ‘BregjesDesign’ only offers good sterling silver rings in four different non-movable sizes. Once you figure out your ring size, you’ll have a perfect and comfortable ring for the rest of your life.
It’s not very cool, but I really like…
Going to church to be filled with the love of God. I believe love makes us creative and gives us new inspiration. Love gives me wings and I find a lot of inspiration on those wings.
Have you ever had a ‘who’d have thought’ moment?
My very first order on Etsy was a real surprise to me and a ‘who’d have thought’ moment. It’s such a good feeling when you discover that people like and want to buy the things you create. I don’t want to get used to that feeling. I love it when that ‘who’d have thought’ moment comes to me.
Thanks so much for giving us an insight into your creative life, Bregjes!