Author: Stephanie Tomczak
“To be a studio jeweler is to be both a dreamer and a maker. Poet and engineer.” - Margaret West
I was instantly drawn in when Julie Blyfield began her lecture, at the 2011 Symposium, with this quote. As a young maker, just getting started in the field, I found Julie’s lecture incredibly motivating and I was very excited to have the chance to sit down with her and ask her a few questions for the SMG blog.
Julie lives in Adelaide, Australia, where she is living her dream as a full time jeweler. It was 17 years ago when Julie quit her job as a secondary school art teacher to persue more time in the studio. “This wasn’t something that people just did, I quit a good, stable job, we had just bought a house, my friends and family thought I was mad!”
It seems that Julie has been able to make this dream her reality by maintaining balance. She divides her time in the studio equally between “bread and butter” work for retail stores, exhibition pieces and custom orders. She also treats her jewelry as a 9 to 5 job and tries not to work on the weekends. “When I was younger it was easy to work long hours and let jewelry start to take over. But I learned quickly that I couldn’t maintain that life.” I mentioned to Julie that as a young maker the leap of becoming a full time artist is very intimadating, to this Julie said: “We all have to earn money somehow, would you rather spend your time working in a coffee shop? Or in your studio, making bread and butter work and developing your skills?” Great question and when I look at it that way I have to say it is an easy answer.