Image by Salona Chithiray
Renée Waters is a porcelain and fine metal jeweller based in Melbourne, Australia. Renée prides herself on only using the finest locally-sourced materials, combining them to create shapes and textures of subtle beauty. Read on to discover more about Renée’s practice.
Tell us a bit about Renee Waters and what products we can expect to discover?
My label is an elegant and striking jewellery range. I primarily work with porcelain to make beaded necklaces, playful hoop earrings and a range of lustre stud earrings. I have a small range of sterling silver and gold rings in the mix too. The pieces are a reflection of my obsession with colour, intricate patterns and of course beautiful gold and copper lustre.
What is your background and how did you start working with porcelain and fine metal?
I have always had a strong passion for the Visual Arts. I spent many hours in my childhood and teen years drawing and painting. It is part of who I am and I couldn’t imagine a life without doing something creative.
I studied Visual Arts at CAE in Melbourne and went onto Monash University to focus on metals and jewellery under a Bachelor of Fine Art. My studies at both of these institutions were focused on using materials and getting hands on experience with a variety of mediums. This experience of trying many different art disciplines has come through in my jewellery range.
Studying at Monash allowed access to a studio full of equipment, so I had to make the most of my time there. Once you finish the course the challenge is then to build up your own resources and equipment in order to keep going with what you have learnt. I took a unit in ceramics while I was there and I am so glad that I did! It gave me enough of an introduction to porcelain to see that this medium is incredibly versatile and it became a fun way to incorporate colour into my metal work.
What inspires you daily?
Inspiration can come from unexpected places, anywhere from going for a walk and enjoying being outside in nature. Observing colours around me, flowers, vegetables, patterns whether natural or human made, anything that catches my eye. I am a sucker for fashions journals and design magazines. Fine art and travelling are always inspiring too.
What is your workspace like? and what is your creative process?
My studio space is at the very back of the house which looks over the garden. I am very lucky to have a floor to ceiling window in this space, having natural light makes for a happy studio. Luckily the studio has a humble concrete floor. I don’t need to worry about how much mess I make. I always seem to end up pouring porcelain slip onto the floor. I have one desk for my metal work and I try and keep my ceramic work contained on another work bench, it’s a messy haven for me. The all important piece of machinery, the kiln is kept working away in the garage.
My creative process involves me stewing on a few ideas for new pieces. I often need to draw them down as I do not want to forget these gems. So a few scribbles on a note pad and then I need to spend time with the materials. Once I get started in the studio this helps to fuel new ideas, each project seem to generate a new line of work. I also find time away from the practice can help refresh my thinking.
What challenges have you faced starting your own label, and what are some things you love about it?
Just starting the business up has been a massive effort financially and it can test your confidence. There are moments, especially in the first year or so when you think you must be foolish for thinking you can start a label. You really rely on getting that initial feedback and of course sales as a guide on what work is going to get your brand moving.
I have used design markets and social media as a means of getting instant feedback on new pieces, it has allowed me to invest further in equipment and get my brand to a point where retailers are confident enough to take on my work. The ‘business’ actually started when I was posting pictures of work I had made for friends as ‘thank you’ gifts. Prior to launching an official business, having a logo or a ‘plan’ I posted images of small silver earrings and rings on my private Instagram and Facebook page. I was contacted by friends for orders within days of these posts. I had wanted to start a small business ‘eventually’, but this was definitely the push I needed to get going.
Finding your feet in business takes time and I am still very much in that learning process. I have spent time working away at my craft at university but the business ‘know how’ hasn’t been given as much dedication, and that is something I am starting to look at improving on.
I love meeting my customers at markets and making a living through a creative outlet is pretty amazing. Meeting other creative business owners on the market trail is a source of inspiration as well. Everyone has their own story to tell and it can be a wonderful supportive community.
What new projects are you working on and where would your label Renee Waters in the future?
As for new projects, I have so many ideas floating around in my head. I cannot wait to get back into using more sterling silver and gold. I would love to start combining metal and porcelain to create a smaller edition of high end work.
I completed a gem setting course last year. I would like to start using Australian sapphires and argyle diamonds in my pieces as well. I am besotted with sapphires and the many colours they come in. I will be working towards incorporating a men’s range into my work. So there are plenty of ideas to keep me going for a while! I would love my label to grow and become a sustainable business that will keep me happy and creative for many years to come.