Sabine Konig

Sabine is taking part in our coming Makers and Designers Market at Turner Contemporay on 4th and 5th December 2021.

Describe what you do as a creative.

I am a jeweller working in precious metals such as silver and gold using precious and semi-precious stones and pearls.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I was born in Cologne, Germany, and came to England in 1984 to study at the Sir John Cass School of Art.
My father was an architect and my mother stayed at home to raise my brother and myself.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I always loved making things and drawing which my parents encouraged. After my A-levels I didn’t want to go to University but decided to do an apprenticeship instead!

How did you begin doing what you do?

My brother’s first girlfriend was a jeweller and she showed me her workshop, I was hooked! I had to wait a year to start my apprenticeship and at 19 was quite a mature apprentice ! It lasted 4 years and was hard at times but I am really glad I persevered as it gave me such a good knowledge and training.
I was self-employed in Cologne after that for a while and continued my studies in London in 1984 at the John Cass College doing an Extended Study Course practising techniques I hadn’t learned during my apprenticeship such as engraving and diamond mounting.

What turns on your creativity?

What usually sparks my creativity are stones or pearls I choose. I love big colourful cabochons and set them in gold with a silver ring shank. I have always loved the two colour metal combination, maybe it’s a German thing. Like painting, making a piece of jewellery is very rewarding and therapeutic at times as I listen to music and my thoughts can just drift. It has helped me through difficult times in my life…

What do you like best about your work?

What I really love about the ‘making’ process is starting out with the stone and then just letting the design develop by itself. Sometimes I might draw a sketch but it still doesn’t mean I stick to it! It’s a bit like playing around with shapes and the stones or pearls.

When were you most satisfied in your work?

A few years ago I took part in Goldsmiths’ Fair in London. I had made new pieces based on the Japanese Collection at the V&A Museum. They were hand engraved pieces with two layers, one background and the top a pierced out design. I chose clear stones to set on top so you could see the design through the stone.
I got a commission from the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers for a brooch as a gift to the Masters wife.

Describe a memorable response to your work?

I sometimes use customers jewellery and redesign it. I remove all the stones and melt down the metal. In our trade that is the wonderful thing that you can melt it and start again which is not possible with wood for example. To design a different piece with their stones and metal creates a very special heirloom with sentimental meaning.

What is the most exciting part of your work at the moment?

During lockdown I read up about a new technique for me called Keum Boo which is an ancient Korean gilding technique used to apply thin sheets of gold leaf to silver.
I still need to practice a bit more!

Which artists / creative people are your heroes/inspiring figures?

I am always impressed with other jewellers technical skills, so for me Ray Walton is just an amazing craftsmen and silversmith!
I am a member of Precious Kent, our local group of Kentish Jewellers and Silversmiths. I think all of the women involved never cease to amaze me with their creativity and joy in what they do.
From Joan’s beautiful enamelling skills to Shelby’s colourful perspex necklaces we encourage and inspire each other.
I also love my prints by Chagall and Leonor Fini I have inherited from my parents as well as my love for classical music.

Your idea of happiness.

My family and friends are the most important people in my life and being surrounded by them makes me happy! I am also a grandmother now which is a whole new chapter in my life and Luna brings me so much joy and happiness. To see the world through child’s eyes again is an amazing experience .

What art/creativity related book should everyone read?

The book I really enjoyed reading recently is called ‘Stoned’ by Aja Raden. It’s about Jewellery, Obsession and how Desire shapes the world. It puts the meaning of jewellery and discovery of stones in a historical context. I have learned so much !

Tell us a lesson life has taught you.

I am not sure whether it is life which has taught be tolerance or age…
I have learned that the world is not black and white but has many nuances in between! Tolerance for the differences in beliefs and attitudes are vital ti get along with fellow humans.

Author: nathalieb