Jewellery Masters: Annika Lahti

Annika Lahti With Her Own Designs – photo by Marcus Boman

Annika Lahti is the designer and owner of Aikasan Jewellery. Finland-based Annika Lahti hand makes precious metal jewellery. She has a love of butterflies, nature, archaeology, Viking folklore and elves. Which results in unusual yet striking and modern shapes that permeates throughout her art form design.

Her jewellery is of exquisite quality, with every detail and finish thought about meticulously. You can visually see why she calls herself a perfectionist.

Annika’s jewellery really stands out from other designers at the moment, probably because of the fact that her subject matter and influences are so different to current trends. Using older traditional symbols and emblems with a modern twist really creates something unique. The fact that she uses very polished silver makes the designs radiate even more.

I would highly recommend buying Annika’s jewellery as it can be worn for any occasion day or night. And a beautiful way to treat yourself or a loved one.

Annika was kind enough to do a Q&A with me. She chatted about her work, jewellery and design, and much more.

Tell us about yourself, and your love affair with Jewellery.

Sterling Silver Jewellery Set – photo by Marcus Boman

I first tried jewellery making while I was on a one year art course in Finland. Immediately I took to it, and I happened to have more talent for metalwork than painting or drawing.  Subsequently, I applied for a place to study at Kent Institute of Art and Design in Rochester, England. Spending the next three years on their course Silversmithing, Goldsmithing and Jewellery Design.

I soon discovered that I much prefer the actual making to the design process. After I finished the course I got a job with Aurum Jewellers in Worthing, West Sussex. It was my ideal job, really; I sat at the bench and made one-off pieces that my boss designed. It was great! I learned a lot about all aspects of running a business in the three years I was there. The business was really small (the owner + 1-2 employees). Because of this I was able to get involved in all aspects of the work. From management things to dealing with customers and designing pieces upon request.

Unfortunately, something happened in my life that made me want to move back home to my family in Finland. Hence I had to leave my perfect job.

When did you first realise you wanted to make Jewellery as a career?

I never made a conscious decision to become a jeweller, it just sort of happened. The profession suits me really well. Mainly because I’m really meticulous by nature and a true perfectionist, which is probably why I enjoy it so much. 

As a designer, where do you draw your inspiration from?

Sterling Silver Bangle and Butterfly Earrings and Pendant – photo by Marcus Boman

My first collection was a set of butterflies. I’ve always loved their natural beauty, so it came easily to me.

I suppose that’s the thing, I draw inspiration from things I find beautiful. I love fantasy, and elves in particular, so my style of designing tends to draw towards that. I’ve made a collection based on two archaeological finds for the local museum (Ålands Museum). And also developing a range for myself as well. I suppose that is my main source of inspiration at the moment – taking finds (particularly from the Viking era) and re-designing them with a modern twist.

How would you describe your designs?

Modern, with an elvish touch.

What is your favourite piece you’ve ever created?

Sterling Silver Bangle and Butterfly Set – photo by Marcus Boman

That would have to be when I was an independent jewellery and was given my first commissioned piece to make. It was a Thor’s hammer, and the customer was deliberately vague with directions. Because he wanted it to have as much of “me” in it as possible. I guess it would be creepy if I didn’t mention that the customer is a friend of mine.

We spent some time talking about Viking lore and what it means to him. I also spent a lot of time reading about the different Viking gods and creatures. In the end it became clear to me what symbolism I wanted to use in the piece. Normally I’d make a mock-up piece in copper to show the customer for approval. However, this particular customer wanted to be surprised.

Sterling Silver Wheel Design Taken From An Archaeological Find – photo by Marcus Boman

It was a little scary for me to be left with this responsibility. But at the same time it was a good and important opportunity for learning to trust myself. I think that’s what makes this piece special to me.

I put a lot of effort into research for the design, and I found out I enjoyed it. It was really important for me to learn this invaluable lesson. Since, my confidence as a designer has always been pretty weak and needs to be improved.

Personal bequests are now my favourite thing to do; I love getting to know the customer and making something truly special for them. 

What are you currently working on?

Two Sterling Silver Pendants for Mother and Daughter

Right now my biggest project is making pieces for an exhibition that will open in May. The theme is Kalevala (Finnish folklore/fantasy), and I’ve decided to make a couple of big statement pieces. However, I haven’t tackled something quite as big as this since I graduated from University. So I have spent a lot of time planning it all out. A secret dream of mine is to make costume jewellery for sci-fi/fantasy films, so I am enjoy thinking in this larger scale for a change.

I also have a couple of orders from customers, and of course my own collections that I’m constantly working on. I’ve applied for permission with Ålands Museum to make a replica of one of their items – a brooch.  I am hoping to have this finished for the local Viking fair that takes place in July this year.
I also aim to have a website up and running within the near future. 

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a jewellery designer?

Hmm. This is a hard question, as everyone’s situation is different. I would probably say that if possible, start your own business on the side of a regular job. This allows you to develop and find your way slowly, without having to worry too much about money.

Sterling Silver Pendants – Viking Symbol

If you’re throwing yourself into the deep water straight away, ask yourself (and be honest) what your strengths and weaknesses are. Running your own business is so much more than just designing and making jewellery. it can be a bit of a slap in the face if you’re not ready for it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help with the things you feel are out of your comfort zone. Use all your contacts, and if you have the means, pay someone else to do the things you hate. Don’t give up when you face your first hurdle; take a deep breath, cry if necessary and then jump it. Then same again. 🙂 Oh, and remember to enjoy your victories! You’ve earned them.

You can find Annika’s talent and creativity at:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aikasanjewellery/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Aikasanjewellery/

Jewellery Masters: Martina Bradach

rosewood leather necklace 1e

Rosewood Leather Necklace

Martina Bradach is the designer and owner of Martina Bradach Art Design. Croatian born Martina currently lives in Zagreb and creates unique handmade jewellery from wood, minerals, leather and brass. The way she combines the natural materials really stimulates the senses. This can be seen in her stunning statement pieces which evoke the feeling of being part of the natural world. You can just about smell the beautiful aroma of a pine forest in summer.

Martina’s art creations have a lovely natural flow and movement which captivates and accentuates any style of fashion. You can literally see the wood transforming in front of your very eyes. Martina’s jewellery will definitely add a very beautiful, natural and organic feel to your collection and wardrobe. A perfect gift for yourself or a loved one.

Martina was kind enough to do a Q&A with me. She chatted about her work, jewellery and design, and much more.

Tell us about yourself, and your love affair with Jewellery.

Beech Leather Cuff

I grew up in a small Croatian village, in a nature park, in a valley surrounded by woods, streams, hills, mountains and wild animals. I always felt the strongest connection and my perception was nourished by nature.

Through the course of my life I was living in a city, doing various day jobs, living abroad, traveling etc. However, no matter what I was doing, creativity was always part of my life. Because I always had a need to make something, draw, paint and create…it kept me connected to the nature and myself.

During my travels, I would always walk through nature. As a result I would find some beautiful stones, pieces of wood, shells and minerals. I would then make them into jewellery which would keep the energy and beauty of the natural world close to me.

When did you first realise you wanted to make Jewellery as a career?

Oak Lava Rock Earrings

At first I just wanted to be surrounded by pieces from nature, but one thing led to another. Jewellery design soon became the natural next step for me. I don’t really look at it as career because it looses spontaneity. I rather think of it as doing something that fulfils me and makes me happy.

The way that materials lead me to its shape, really connects me to nature and myself. For me, nature makes the best art, I just need to follow it into the shape.

The best thing about following this path is that it makes me happy . When I can connect with people who can recognize this and appreciate the nature, it is wonderful. I love it when people wish to wear something that has grown out of that relationship.

As a designer, where do you draw your inspiration from?

Wild Cherry Leather Necklace

My inspiration always comes from nature. It’s elements with various shapes, sizes, colours, textures, energies etc. really stimulate my creativity. Since the child in me still sees shapes and beings in clouds, in the grains of wood, in textures of minerals.

The power and beauty of the natural world leaves me in awe and moves me to creation.

How would you describe your designs?

Wenge Hematite Leather Necklace

My designs are natural, organic, following the story and history of the wood. It feels like the wood itself is transforming with my help.

Each piece of wood brings its own shape with its grain, colours, cracks and in combining it with leather, minerals and brass creates unique synergy.

Nature has designed the most beautiful part already I just bring it out and make it visible and wearable. Simple lines with power in details.

What is your favourite piece you’ve ever created?

I don’t really have one favourite piece, each has its own beauty. Each piece fascinates me with its uniqueness, due to the story of the wood combining with the leather, minerals and brass. 

What are you currently working on?

Plum Brooch

I’m working on a new line where I wouldn’t use leather, only wood and brass. Because I find, using wood- leather combination has some kind of powerful statement energy.

Whereas, combining wood with brass wire adds some lightness to it. Of course in my mind, I come up with a concept and how I would like it to look. However, it is only when the hands start to work that the magic happens.

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a jewellery designer?

Mahogany Leather Cuff

Follow your inspiration and your feeling. Do what you love and makes you happy, don’t try to fit yourself into someone else’s concepts.

Jewellery Masters: Kate Harvey

2017-04-17 16.11.53

Kate Harvey In Her Garden Studio

Kate Harvey is the designer and owner of Grace and Flora. She designs and hand crafts jewellery inspired by nature. Creating elegant, intricate and beautiful pieces of art that the wearer can take pride in. Her jewellery will make a cherished gift for yourself or a loved one, and will also compliment any outfit.

London-based Kate uses precious metals to create every piece by hand, in her garden studio. Each piece is made with love and attention to detail, using a variety of different methods. This includes using gorgeous natural gemstones and pearls combined with precious metals. Creating fashionable pieces, suitable for any occasion.

2017-04-17 16.09.44

Sterling Silver Nature Inspired Necklaces

Not only are Kate’s designs inspired by nature but she takes her responsibility for being eco-friendly very seriously. She uses recycled sterling silver and packages the jewellery using environmentally friendly materials.

Kate was kind enough to do a Q&A with me. She chatted about her work, jewellery and design, and much more.

Tell us about yourself, and your love affair with Jewellery.

2017-04-17 16.06.17

Sterling Silver Woodland Charm Bracelet

I first started making jewellery as a teenager, making things for friends and myself. I started making jewellery to sell 5 years ago and really love it, it’s a great way to spend my time!

When did you first realise you wanted to make Jewellery as a career?

After having many years without making jewellery, I decided 5 years ago to try again. I soon realised that things had dramatically changed from when I was younger. There was now a great market place online with an array of different platforms for makers to sell their work. This made it much more viable and possible, than it had been before, for me to sell my work.

2017-04-17 16.07.32

Sterling Silver Hydrangea Ring

I love being able to be creative. It’s also wonderful to have good feedback about my pieces from my customers. Knowing that customers love my designs make it even more satisfying. I balance my jewellery design with my other job as a part time Counsellor and it works very well.

As a designer, where do you draw your inspiration from?

2017-04-17 16.10.16

Sterling Silver Shell Earrings

All my jewellery is inspired by nature. I make replicas of leaves, flowers, shells etc and turn them into pieces to wear in silver and soon in gold. My pieces are a celebration of nature.

How would you describe your designs?

2017-04-17 16.07.01

Sterling Silver Bangle With Rose Leaf Charm

My jewellery is fairly delicate and wearable, but unique as well. They are simple designs on the whole which people seem to like. And can be worn every day, day or night. Soon I’m going to start making jewellery in gold, but at the moment it’s mostly silver.

What is your favourite piece you’ve ever created?

2017-04-17 16.10.53

Sterling Silver Blackberry Necklace

I have quite a few favourites. However, I love to wear a blackberry necklace every day. It’s a lovely shape and a little quirky whilst being subtle. I never take it off! I think because it took a couple of failed attempts and I persevered, that makes it more satisfying!

What are you currently working on?

2017-04-17 16.08.56

Sterling Silver Daffodil Necklace

I have several new things in the pipeline. I’ve just finished a snowdrop and a daffodil pendant. And I’m just finishing an ammonite fossil pendant and new hydrangea ring which I love.  I’m bringing out some gold plated designs very soon and solid gold after that which is very exciting!

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a jewellery designer?

Lots of people are buying online now so it’s easier to set up a shop. Jewellery is particularly competitive in terms of volume of makers at the moment. Therefore, jewellery designers have to work harder to be seen in social media and online marketplaces. It is important to try and offer something unique.

2017-04-17 16.11.21

Sterling Silver Sycamore Earrings

Jewellery making is a wonderful thing to do whether it’s to make a living or just for pleasure.  It’s important to make things you really love and because of that, the chances are someone else will too!