Ana Ristic won our Design of the Month Competition back in November 2020. We liked the way she embraced different metals and used them to create something beautiful and unique. We wanted to know more about her, what inspires her, what drove her to jewellery making and more.
Tell us a bit about yourself – your background, education and training in jewellery making
I was born and raised in Niš, the capital of Southern Serbia, where I still live. Being interested in history, I chose it as a major for my graduate studies. However, the interest and the appeal for it faded in time. At about the same period, I hit a rough patch. I was struggling with anxiety and depression, and during one of those days when I’d spend time online checking whatever popped up, I came across some photos of wire-wrapped jewellery. It looked interesting and something that could take my mind off of things and occupy my hands, so I decided to give it a shot.
I figured busy hands would do good for my mental health. So,
wire-wrapping opened up this magical new world to me, but only three years ago, when I started working with sheet metal and began learning metalsmithing did I feel like I had finally found myself. I don’t have any training in jewellery making. Everything I know I’ve learned by myself.
When did you discover your love of jewellery?
When I was a little girl, I was going through my mom’s old fashion magazine, Burda, and ran into a photo of a model surrounded by Indian women dressed in sarees and covered in traditional jewellery. I was mesmerised by the photo. Myriad of bracelets, large, ornamented earrings, nose-rings, chains hanging everywhere. It all looked magical to me. So I suppose that was the time I first fell in love with jewellery without even knowing it.
Tell us a bit more about your work. Are there any particular materials or techniques that you favour?
I work mainly with base metals – copper and brass. Several years back, I fell in love with metalsmithing. The versatility in techniques is what made me fall in love with it. I love it when my hands get dirty and tired after a long day. I love the fact that I have to go over every millimetre of the piece I’m working on, to think thoroughly about every component I want to incorporate in it and about the process of it’s assembly. But if I had to choose, I would say the technique I use the most, is sawing.
I find it soothing and enjoy doing it. I started working with copper and brass wire and sheet because these metals are very affordable and great for learning and experimenting, especially if you are self-taught as I am. But I must admit I fell for the warmth of copper and ease of working with it, and it seems I can’t let it go.
How would you best describe your design style?
Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I can’t say I have a style yet. My designs evolve mostly around new techniques I want to try. My skills are still pretty basic and I have a lot to learn before I can even think of building my own style or expression through metal.
As a jewellery maker, where do you get your inspiration from for your pieces?
Most of my inspiration comes from my surroundings. Nature is deeply intertwined, with my current feelings.
Do you have a piece that you are particularly proud of?
Yes, my favourite piece is a copper teaspoon, inspired by forest walks. The idea came to me one night while I was working on commissions. I had to put everything down and start working on the spoon. Working on it brought me so much joy and I instantly fell in love with the finished piece.
What is the one item in your workshop that you couldn’t live without?
I couldn’t live without my jeweller’s saw. I use it for every piece that comes out of my studio.
What upcoming trends do you see being popular soon?
I’m not much of a trend follower, so I don’t really know how to respond to this question. Inspiration for my jewellery comes from within and it’s deeply intertwined with my current mood, emotions, and impressions.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt from your time in jewellery making?
Over the years, I’ve learned you have to be present and constant. There will be ups and downs, but you have to keep working hard, be consistent and persistent. You have to be open to learning so you can improve and grow.
Do you have any particular advice that you would give to up and coming jewellery designers, or someone interested in getting into jewellery making?
Don’t get discouraged easily. To master any skill you have to fail and make mistakes. Just don’t give up and try over and over again.
Finally, time for a bit of fun in our quick-fire round!
Tell us your favourite…
Colour? – Depending on mood, but I like greens.
Coffee or tea? – Coffee, dark and strong
Animal? – Cat (apologies to my dog Marlena)
Gemstone? – That changes from time to time, but lately I am drawn to Bicolour Tourmaline
Book? – Midnight Children by Salman Rushdie
Song? – Coffee and TV by Blur
Many thanks to Ana for talking to us and being our first jewellery maker of this series for 2021.