This is the first in a series of interviews by SquarePeg volunteer Elena Sorensen.
SquarePeg Studios: You studied at the prestigious contemporary jewellery school Alchimia in Florence. What bearing does that experience have on your current practice and how does working in a collaborative studio space like SquarePeg compare?
Albert Tse: It has a large bearing on my practice, mainly because that’s where I learnt how to make jewellery and about design. My first series started at Alchimia, the Wanderer series. Because I knew little about jewellery prior to this (I did not think I would be a jeweller growing up) but I enjoyed it after doing a short course and then randomly ended up in Italy. so everything I know about jewellery I know from studying at Alchimia. They taught me both the old school traditional techniques and contemporary design, so a lot of their aesthetic comes through in my work.
Alchimia was a school environment, but here at SquarePeg we are all working towards similar goals of becoming professional/ commercial jewellers. Professionally we push each other to find stockists, we push and encourage each other to create websites and to promote our work. We also share experiences of industry skills and techniques. I think working in this environment has galvanized areas of my practice, for instance I participated in the Atelier course on offer here at SquarePeg in which I had an idea to design my second collection, the Eon series, through going back to basics in wax carving and then sandcasting the pieces.
SP: What does a typical day in the studio entail for you?
AT: Coffee. I like to start the day on Young Jewellers Group on Facebook to see what’s going on in the jewellery world. I have also been putting more pieces together for stockists. It’s always about trial and error, making prototypes, experimenting with new techniques, polishing and figuring out the best ways of finishing works. A good hour or so is spent on social media, creating content and posting. This year I am working on getting a plan together to make sure I get everything done.
SP: You are interested in men’s jewellery. How did this interest emerge and what role it plays within the development of your pieces.
AT: I noticed over the years that it was difficult for my friends to find something that they wanted to wear and just settled for the best of the worst. Men’s jewellery designs do not seem to have evolved much since the ‘90s. There hasn’t been much innovation or variation. Plus the fact that I don’t know much about women’s jewellery, made the choice easier.
As for how this is developed in my pieces, I think I just do what I like and ask my friends for feedback. I would describe my aesthetic as a bit of a mix of simple, yet organic and rough. I’m very into making one off pieces that I achieve through the sand casting technique because this method produces a unique and individual piece each time.
SP: What would you like to see in the field of men’s jewellery and the wider field of art jewellery in the future?
AT: With mens jewellery I think it would be great if men wore more jewellery. The market for men’s products in Sydney is growing and there’s not much out there so being one of a few local makers is exciting. I want to learn more about how I can make my pieces appeal to more men.
For the wider jewellery field I’m very much about supporting what is made locally and introducing more people to art jewellery.
SP: What advice do you have for students entering the field of jewellery?
AT: Go to class, learn what you can, redo your technical pieces and create as much as possible. You only get out how much you put in, you need to put in the hard work and keep making. Hand skills are where it’s at and the design will follow, unless of course you want to be a designer.
SP: What is next for you?
AT: Next for me is focusing on expanding my brand, building up brand recognition and making my work available to more people. More specifically I would like to do a collaborating with another artist in the mens field, network with more people in mens industries, produce an art piece for the Radiant Pavilion exhibition in Melbourne, look at international opportunities and work towards the Paris Jewellery Fair.