Silversmiths might be rare these days, but Jenny Mason has been interested in metal work for many years. She is now able to focus on her craft and make beautiful jewelry with precious metals and found objects.
Michelle Barber: What’s your background?
Jenny Mason: I was born and raised in London, although my parents are Americans. They persuaded me that I should experience life in the US, so I studied at Skidmore College in upstate New York, which is where I was first introduced to silversmithing and met my husband Paul. I completed a degree in English while taking all the metalwork classes on offer.
Paul and I were keen to travel, and in 1997 we took a world trip and discovered New Zealand, where we instantly felt at home. As soon as we got back to London we applied for residency and moved here a year later.
Arriving in New Zealand we worked at the Cardrona ski field. When the season ended, we needed to decide where to settle. We drove around the country for six weeks, sleeping in a tent and trying to find the perfect spot (there were many) where we would be able to find work (this was harder). Then one morning, unzipping our tent beside the sea at Whakanewha, we realised that we had found it.
I was lucky enough to meet Paora Toi Te Rangiuaia, who had an extra bench space at his jewelry studio in Oneroa. Paora was incredibly patient and helpful to me as a complete novice, and always willing to take time out from what he was doing to explain a technique or give advice, but jewelry was still something I did in addition to working full time as a graphic designer. When Paul and I started a family it just became too difficult to fit everything in, and I put my metalwork on the back burner. •Michelle Barber is the owner/operator of Artisphere.co.nz and can be reached for this column at firstname.lastname@example.org
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