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wearable art with joAnne burkE


For the latest issue of INPRINT, Rosie Dalton interviews designer Joanne Burke about old-world jewellery making techniques and finding inspiration in Ancient Rome.

Jewellery by joAnne burkE

Joanne Burke doesn’t just make jewellery; she makes “artwork that you can wear.” The Rome-based British designer produces intricate adornments reminiscent of Ancient Rome — even if this was by accident. “The reason my pieces probably [reflect this] is because I’ve made them using a similarly simple, old wax casting process and because I make things figuratively,” she tells INPRINT. But with her jewels, there is always more than meets the eye.

Employing lots of bronze and yellow gold, it’s clear to see the historical link in Joanne Burke’s pieces. But there is also a sense of irreverence about her method that makes the label stand out amongst a sea of jewels. “Sometimes I add coral and pearl pieces [into the jewellery],” she explains. “Because I love water jewels.”

Joanne Burke doesn’t just make jewellery; she makes “artwork that you can wear.” The Rome-based British designer produces intricate adornments reminiscent of Ancient Rome — even if this was by accident. “The reason my pieces probably [reflect this] is because I’ve made them using a similarly simple, old wax casting process and because I make things figuratively,” she tells INPRINT. But with her jewels, there is always more than meets the eye.

Employing lots of bronze and yellow gold, it’s clear to see the historical link in Joanne Burke’s pieces. But there is also a sense of irreverence about her method that makes the label stand out amongst a sea of jewels. “Sometimes I add coral and pearl pieces [into the jewellery],” she explains. “Because I love water jewels.”

“Drawing frustrates me, so I usually start sculpting the wax immediately.”

“Lately I have also been drawn to more unappreciated forms and I’ve been gathering a collection of ‘uglies’ that I’ve found along my walks.” This translates into abstract or intangible shapes, which hang dramatically from the earlobes, or can be looped around the neck.

Either way, there is something highly distinctive about Joanne Burke’s approach — both the process and the results. Contrary to what people might expect, she doesn’t draw any of her designs. “Drawing frustrates me, so I usually start sculpting the wax immediately, with a feeling in mind and then go from there,” she says. “Recently I have started keeping a scrapbook of images. It’s the book of a world of a person that might possibly wear these pieces — but it’s also a book of the world of the jewel itself.” This helps her to formulate the shapes more effectively, and truly understand the feeling of a piece.

It is this mysterious feeling that’s perhaps most significant about Joanne Burke’s jewels. A quality that intimates belonging to a time past, or carrying deeper meaning beyond just what meets the eye. “I’m drawn to all of my pieces because there was a good reason for making them in that moment,” Burke elaborates — and perhaps it’s this providence that makes each item so striking and unique. But one gets the feeling that it also has a lot to do with the designer herself. “I didn’t go to school for making jewelry, I’ve just been teaching myself as I go along,” she explains. “Everything will always be wonky and misshapen, because that’s just how I am. It’s not about skill, that’s just my spirit.”

 

This article was written for INPRINT Issue 5, which you can purchase over here.

“Lately I have also been drawn to more unappreciated forms and I’ve been gathering a collection of ‘uglies’ that I’ve found along my walks.” This translates into abstract or intangible shapes, which hang dramatically from the earlobes, or can be looped around the neck.

Either way, there is something highly distinctive about Joanne Burke’s approach — both the process and the results. Contrary to what people might expect, she doesn’t draw any of her designs. “Drawing frustrates me, so I usually start sculpting the wax immediately, with a feeling in mind and then go from there,” she says. “Recently I have started keeping a scrapbook of images. It’s the book of a world of a person that might possibly wear these pieces — but it’s also a book of the world of the jewel itself.” This helps her to formulate the shapes more effectively, and truly understand the feeling of a piece.

It is this mysterious feeling that’s perhaps most significant about Joanne Burke’s jewels. A quality that intimates belonging to a time past, or carrying deeper meaning beyond just what meets the eye. “I’m drawn to all of my pieces because there was a good reason for making them in that moment,” Burke elaborates — and perhaps it’s this providence that makes each item so striking and unique. But one gets the feeling that it also has a lot to do with the designer herself. “I didn’t go to school for making jewelry, I’ve just been teaching myself as I go along,” she explains. “Everything will always be wonky and misshapen, because that’s just how I am. It’s not about skill, that’s just my spirit.”

This article was written for INPRINT Issue 5, which you can purchase over here.

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