After studying in Tassie, jewellery maker Christine Battocchio set up her own Melbourne based design studio, creating small production runs of simple modern hand made jewellery, inspired by the colours and shapes of the natural world and our built environments.
Tell us about your journey into jewellery making. Have you always known you wanted to be a jeweller, and how did you end up starting your own design business?
I have always liked wearing jewellery and saw it as a quiet way to express myself. I worked in a jewellery shop for a while once I finished school but needed to get my hands involved so off to Uni I went for four years (two in Tassie, and a further two in Sydney) where I gained a Bachelor Degree in Visual Art with a major in Jewellery & Silversmithing. This terrified me so I completed a four year cooking apprenticeship and worked as a chef for 18 years. Some of that was part time where I gained confidence again to go back to jewellery making and have been making now for around 14 years. I still enjoy cooking at home but it was the heat in the kitchen that drove me back to jewellery making.
Where in Melbourne is your workplace situated, and what’s a typical day in your studio?
My workshop is in a converted garage at the back of the house and a typical day at work starts with dragging my dog’s mattress inside. He barks at me if I haven’t opened up by 10am. Then I’m at the bench sawing silver, soldering, filing and so on continuously for days on end until I have a body of work made, then I emery and polish. Setting resin is done in the last hour of the day so there is little dust flying around while it is drying and I close the workshop at around 6pm. 5pm in the short winter days.
My favourite escape is anywhere with large trees, huge rocks and preferably running water. Fortunately I live close to Merri Creek (in Melbourne’s northern suburbs) so almost each day I am there running or taking Charlie the dog for a walk. There is just something about nature that makes me feel happy and clear headed.
I work with silver and resin. I am able to get so many fabulous colours from the resin that it sometimes amazes me about what is possible. When I think I have covered almost every colour imaginable a small dot of blue, or a bit of yellow can bring a whole new feel to a piece. The silver makes a nice clean background for the colours to reflect in.
Which piece of your own jewellery have you unashamedly fallen in love with, and what treats are in store for us at Bowerbird?
I own a lot of my own jewellery. Every year something new seems to enter my collection and currently it is the hollow black ring that I have been wearing almost daily for about 18 months. Bowerbird will see my city scape work make an appearance. I have a pair of prototype earrings that I keep wanting to wear but I need to wait until the body of work is ready.
Undoubtedly I love the work of South Australia’s very own Julie Blyfield. My favourite jewellery maker/silversmith ever! I also love Tiwi art. I was up there as a 21 year old many years ago and perhaps its an emotional attachment as a result of my travels. One of the things that inspires me about successful artists/makers is their dedication and commitment to what they do. There are some dreadfully mundane aspects of making so to remain inspired and motivated can be very challenging.
I look forward to coming to Bowerbird every year and meeting up with other makers from around the country. Its a great event and well run. See you in May! Christine