Chatting Unique Nature Inspired Designs & Intricate Sawing With HISO
Hanne joins us to share her story and incredible nature inspired designs in this interview. We discover how Hanne's jewellery making journey began with the help of her creative mother and how she changed paths from studying to become an Art teacher to enrolling herself in Goldsmith school to follow her dreams of becoming a jeweller. We chat all about how her home in Norway inspires her designs to eco friendly packaging, the importance of sharing behind the scenes content to sharing top tips on piercing metal.
Hi Hanne, tell us how you first fell in love with jewellery making
I have always loved jewellery, as far as I can remember - and loved to look at my mother and grandmother's pieces. They all had very different styles and unique pieces and I think from an early age I also used jewellery to enhance my style and identity.
My mother, who also is an artist, early introduced us kids to arts and crafts - painting, scrapbooking all sorts of crafty projects really - and also jewellery making with beads, wire, different findings and a whole lot of creative freedom. The jewellery world seems endless to me - there's always a new way to look at a design, or a new technique to learn.
How did you learn the craft?
After I had tried beading techniques with my mother, I really had the urge to explore other ways of making jewellery. When I was about 13 years old we found a course for kids and teenagers, where we got to pierce out different shapes in silver and try enamelling with a torch, in addition to working with real silver wire and freshwater pearls. Through my teenage years and young adulthood I took a few more courses: more sawing, soldering, filing and finishing while I was studying musical theatre and took a bachelor's degree in Arts and Design Education.
While I was studying to become an Arts teacher - I was reminded of how much I loved to work with metal through a period of metalwork (where I obviously decided to make a bunch of jewellery). So I took a turn - did not start as a teacher, but started goldsmith school in Norway. I went two years learning the craft in school - finishing with a journeyman's test. In Norway the basic goldsmith education can vary between 2-4 years depending on what other education you have got beforehand or if you're taking the entire education as an apprentice in a goldsmith-related business. After I got my diploma, I still do courses once in a while, usually digital online ones, and I do a lot of research on Youtube and social media. I also have been lucky to have worked next to a couple of master goldsmiths who have been happy to share their knowledge and experience. I highly recommend using your community for what it is worth.
"My work is very much inspired by nature; green leaves, sea and flowers... I'm also very intrigued by the night sky and everything out there in the universe"
What’s your favourite design of yours at the moment?
I really love my Ginkgo ring in gold with a small diamond - it'll be bittersweet to let it go once someone special buys it.
What other crafts do you enjoy in your spare time?
I really enjoy painting - both abstract and nature-like scapes in acrylic or aquarelle paint. On occasion, I knit - and sew, and I also own a couple of weaving looms - but the time isn't really on my side. Luckily I get to work with my favourite craft everyday.
How does your home inspire your designs
Since I live in Norway - my work is very much inspired by nature; green leaves, sea and flowers - but also, since we have a long winter season which is quite dark, I'm also very intrigued by the night sky and everything out there in the universe: stars, planets, matter, crazy formations and wild surfaces. I feel like my jewellery style has a split personality really.
One commission you will never forget!
A couple of years ago I made a replica of a sand dollar. The customer wanted to surprise his girlfriend with a gold pendant with a sand dollar, since they had been on a magical holiday together on a beach where they appeared quite frequently and became such a symbol for that place.
"My favourite thing about my current workbench is that it's really organised - so that after a super messy and chaotic day, every tool and bit has it's own designated spot to spend the night. I love to start the day with a clean slate..."
What are your favourite ways to use up your scrap metal?
I love to melt down and shape organic strips of silver - then to make them into rings and earrings that are truly unique. I also use scrap metal (clean pieces with no solder) to make granules and small pebbles.
Gold or silver?
Love them both, but I think it's most exciting to work with gold as a material. A bit harder to shape, but I think it's more forgiving when a piece has several solder joints. Gold is also more often paired with exciting gemstones (that tend to be more expensive) and designs in my opinion.
What’s your favourite part of the jewellery making process and why
I love it when I'm in the zone of building something, when it goes well and I feel like the plan is working, that is. It's amazing to see something technical come together - but I usually dread doing the finishing and polishing bit.
What would be your workshop soundtrack?
Last year I almost exclusively listened to three artists - so I guess my workshop soundtrack would be a mix of Yebba, Dodie and Greta van Fleet - all moods pretty much covered there.
"I think a lot of people really underestimate what it really takes to make a piece of jewellery in terms of design, time, tools and equipment and labour..."
Statement or minimal?
Though I love a good statement piece, and often find them very inspiring, I both tend to wear and make more minimalistic pieces myself.
Tell us about your workspace and how you make it your own
At the moment I rent my workbench close to where I live and I share a space with a goldsmith of 50 years. It has been really helpful in my starting years - and I've learned quite a lot of tips and tricks of the trade from him. However the space doesn't really feel like my own - and I'm currently looking for a new place where I can make the workspace of my dreams. My Pinterest is full of images of old wooden furniture, green plants, pretty vintage tools and art on display and beautiful calm colours on the walls.
My favourite thing about my current workbench is that it's really organised - so that after a super messy and chaotic day, every tool and bit has it's own designated spot to spend the night. I love to start the day with a clean slate.
We love your intricate designs, what advice would you give those wanting to perfect their piercing technique
Thank you! The piercing technique is mostly about practice, and also a little bit about positioning the piece you're working on. Starting my education in goldsmithing we spent the first couple of months really focusing on piercing and filing only - and I'm really glad we did now because my piercing technique is quite effective and precise because of it.
I like to position my peg (I also have a thinner, parallel peg for saw piercing that I prefer sometimes) at the height of my upper chest. Then I make sure the piece I'm piercing lies flat and horizontal on the peg, and that my sawing is really vertical, or perpendicular to the piece. So no angling of the blade forwards or sideways. And take it slow - the speed will come once the blade is “having a good time”.
What are your top three favourite gems right now?
"I'm a ring girl! I love to make them, love to wear them and love to look at them..."
What’s one tool you’re loving right now and why?
One tool I love at the moment is my barrette needle file. It's great for a lot of hard and small cleaning jobs - including touching up intricate piercing work. I use it every day, and it feels almost as important as my torch and piercing saw.
We love your behind the scenes videos on social, why do you think it’s important to share the process?
Because I think a lot of people really underestimate what it really takes to make a piece of jewellery in terms of design, time, tools and equipment and labour. However, I seldom feel like what I share through socials really do these things justice - a reel is so short, and often very sped up or cut. Though I don't think it's enough to really enlighten people, at least it's something - and who doesn't love to watch things be made by hand? I know I do.
Tell us about your packaging
My packaging is eco-friendly and comes from a Danish company called Westpack. I use boxes made of cardboard, and I strive to use eco-friendly material too when I prep to send orders by post (a lot of the time it's either reused envelopes or cardboard box-mailers). At the moment I have different coloured jewellery boxes - dark green for rings and earrings and nature cardboard for pendants and bracelets - both are imprinted with my logo, which I'm quite proud of. My business cards are also eco-friendly and made of recycled kraft paper.
Rings or pendants?
I'm a ring girl! I love to make them, love to wear them and love to look at them.
"Every time I'm making a piece with stone-setting, it always feels like I'm out of my comfort zone..."
What’s one design that has pushed you out of your comfort zone?
When I had my goldsmith exam I made my most challenging piece by that time - lots of solder joints with very different dimensions. Sawing ajours (angular back openings for setting stones) and intricate saw piercing as well as smithing and shaping 14 kt gold - all under time pressure. It turned out to be a stylistic pendant of an oak leaf in yellow gold with a stem with a white gold acorn - presetting ready. Nowadays - every time I'm making a piece with stone-setting, it always feels like I'm out of my comfort zone.
What’s one thing you wish people knew about jewellery making?
I wish more people knew that there are so many ways to make jewellery, some more sustainable than others. Oftentimes the most eco-friendly and unique pieces of jewellery can be found shopping with small, handmade businesses - and every sale can have a direct impact on someone's life.