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Steph Lusted: x-bones to butterfliesSteph Lusted: x-bones to butterflies

New Zealand jewellery designer and creator Steph Lusted tells us about life post-Pforzheim
by Jo Haas

Expanded from issue 26 of Lucire




PARENTS DO NOT often tolerate their kids’ projects covering the living room floor. But, some would say they have little choice when their child demonstrates an addiction for anything hand-made. Steph Lusted was just that child. As a graduate of a master’s degree in goldsmithing and design completed in the small German town, Pforzheim, Steph is now far from her parents’ living room floor.
   Why Pforzheim? You may well ask. When you learn of Pforzheim’s nickname, Goldstadt (Gold City), however, the reason for Steph’s choice becomes clear. It was not just Pforzheim’s golden reputation that drew Steph: Germany, as a whole, offered the chance to immerse herself in a long history of goldsmithing and high-quality craftsmanship, and attend a reputable jewellery school. It also offered Steph the "big change" she was looking for, and the opportunity to see new things and be inspired anew.
   The experience has not been a bed of roses, however. Funding had to be obtained and German learned. No easy feat, by any means. Steph’s talent paved the way, however, with the receipt of two grants from Creative New Zealand for professional and creative development. This enabled her to travel to Germany to visit selected jewellery institutions and then return to begin study in 2004. A German language grant from the Göthe-Institut in Wellington (where she studied for three years) also allowed Steph to undertake an intensive four-week language course in Germany.
   Post-Pforzheim, Steph says that her work has continued to evolve. ‘With everything in life, the more you learn, the wider your mind opens’ and the more you ‘see new possibilities’. She says she now has a ‘stronger technical understanding of goldsmithing’ that has allowed her to explore the area in more depth, but says that the æsthetics and ideas for her work still ‘come from the inside’.
   Steph’s classics have always included her cross-bone and butterfly brooches, and insects cast in resin, but she is also drawn to the ‘really intense time-consuming projects [involving] technical development within a piece’. Steph says she finds ‘great satisfaction in creating one-off avant-garde pieces,’ but that no matter what the piece, she constantly strives for ‘high-quality craftsmanship’.
   Her choice of materials has also been diverse. She enjoys combining precious metals (such as gold and silver) with industrial materials such as rubber, resin and aluminium ‘because of the colours obtained using contrasting materials’. In the future, Steph says she would like to experiment more with gold while still combining other materials such as blackened steel to ‘create strong colour and surface contrasts’.
   Steph demonstrated this interest in her end-of-year practical examination piece for her master’s. The skull-and-cross-bones neckpiece has a removable medallion in the centre featuring Steph’s initials (S. L.) in fine gold inlaid into the steel. This reflects an old technique of inlay work where craftsmen would blacken steel to create a strong contrast in design.
   Steph has not, however, denied us of her work here at home. Since finishing her Master’s, Steph’s pieces have featured in both Wellington and Auckland. Last year in Wellington, she was involved in the National Jewellery Showcase at the Michael Fowler Centre and had a solo show, The Selected Few, at Avid (her long-time dealer gallery). In Auckland, she exhibited her New Zealand Inspired Collection at World’s Deluxe Store and various pieces at Miss Crabb. Steph is now back in Germany with the goal of selling through galleries in mainland Europe and, eventually, England.
   If Europe is not a travel destination of yours in the near future and you want to catch a glimpse of Steph’s work here at home, make your way to World Deluxe, Miss Crabb or Avid. However, we do issue a warning: even if on the pretence of “just going for a look”, there is a high chance you will be tempted to buy. •


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‘With everything in life, the more you learn, the wider your mind opens, and the more you see new possibilities’

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Expanded from issue 26 of Lucire