A blog by Suzanne Smedley on her experience with achieving success from being happy, linked to ceramic jewellery and inspired by Creative Rebels and Emma Gannon.Read More
My iKhaya Collection is a homage to my upbringing in South Africa. ‘iKhaya’ is the word for ‘Home’ in the African language Zulu, which is local to Kwa-Zulu Natal, the province in which I grew up
The iKhaya Collection consists of ceramic jewellery with brightly coloured geometric designs.
If you were to explore the countryside of Kwa-Zulu Natal, you would come across houses painted green, lilac and red. The washing lines are strung with clothes in bold yellow, orange and purple. These all lie beneath an open blue sky. Which is why when I think of my home in South Africa, I think of the almost surreal colours.
When I chose the underglaze paints to use on my first pendants when in South Africa, I was immediately drawn to the those on the brighter end of the spectrum, the pots of azure blue and lime green. Having been in England for four years now, I am still painting in them. Perhaps this is because they maintain my link to South Africa. My love for them has never dulled. Just take a look at my jewellery for evidence!
A traditional Ndbele iKhaya in South Africa would be painted in bold geometric designs. These have inspired many artists, architects, and designers. I draw on them for inspiration in my own work.
My iKhaya Collection is a marriage of these two features of my home in South Africa, bold colours and geometric designs. As a result, this jewellery range with designs of clean lines and block colours hold a special significance to me.
Suzanne Elisabeth Jewellery now consists of four ranges of refined, handcrafted ceramic jewellery. However, the first pieces I made were chunky, amateur and overall not particularly good. Although I will admit to loving their bright colours!
Back in 2012 when I was living in South Africa, my sister-in-law gave me a beautiful powder blue ceramic pendant with the silhouette of a windmill on it. It was delicate and truly lovely.
So in 2013 when I found myself with time to spare, as well as a kiln and some clay, I thought I could make one too. I mean, how hard could it be? Turns out, very! It’s not as easy as it looks on any level. For example, having to stir thick glaze for hours was not kind on my inexperienced wrists. There was also the time I opened a very hot kiln too soon and got blasted with intense heat in the face. Something I would not recommend. I could go on and on. I have learnt to have such respect for ceramicists and potters everywhere.
Fast forward six years and I think it’s fair to say it’s been a roller-coaster of experiences, experiments and emotions. There have been times when I’ve come close to throwing in the towel and others where I’ve been on cloud nine with joy. I have learnt from trial and error, desperately emailing other ceramicists and suppliers as well as downright luck. The more I learn the more I realise there is no end to what you can do in ceramics!
This Suzanne Elisabeth Jewellery blog will trace this journey. I want to inspire others to embark on their own journeys to make the most of their creativity. It is so worth it. You just have to keep going and keep innovating. I never thought I’d be where I am today, and it’s all because I never gave up. So check in here for tips and tales from my small wealth of experience and get inspired!
Thank You To:
The brilliant team at Bath Potters Supplies. They have answered many an email with great advice. Thank you so much for your invaluable help and patience. For an incredible array of pottery supplies, go to https://www.bathpotters.co.uk