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Expert Jeweller Sally Laing back for Summer Skills

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SallywebLooking for a creative start to 2021? As part of The Learning Connexion’s Summer Skills, expert designer jeweller Sally Laing is once more running a workshop on the art of jewellery enamelling.

The five-day workshop is your chance to work with one of the industry’s best practitioners and create your own works of art to treasure for a lifetime.

Sally, who is originally from England, has over 30 years’ experience teaching and practising enamelling in New Zealand and Europe. She specialises in the art of vitreous enamelling, a process that involves fusing powdered coloured glass on to precious metals.

“One of the wonderful things about enamelling is that through its intrinsic beauty, a complete beginner or child can get great results,” says Sally. “At the same time, someone might spend a lifetime developing ideas expressed through enamel.”

Sally says during her workshops she guides people to achieve knowledge and confidence through simple test pieces that they can then use to develop their own ideas.

“I have taught all ages and abilities and have ‘tricks’ that help people achieve happy results at whatever level they are at. Enamelling is a time-consuming process that requires concentration and patience, but is not really difficult until a person has a difficult idea to express.”


Sally’s contemporary jewellery has featured in exhibitions in New Zealand and across the globe. Now based in Taranaki in the seaside town of Oakura, she draws inspiration from the colours, textures, patterns, and forms of the region's natural environment and wildlife to create her distinctive pieces.

“I spent my childhood appreciating nature, and the beauty of detail in it. I do not believe in waste, and try to make beautiful things that will be treasured, that might help people notice detail, and appreciate the fragile.”

She credits her grandmothers for planting the seeds of her own career in creativity.

“Both grandmothers were creative and between them, they taught me to sew and knit at a very early age. Particularly my maternal Grandmother was a real stickler for neat sewing, and said the work was only good if it looked great on the wrong side – technique was important.”

Training in England and Germany, Sally eventually discovered the art of enamelling - and has been hooked ever since.

“I found I could attain wonderful colour on metal, with so many ways of expression it would take a lifetime to explore. It was also easier to pack tools and equipment for jewellery and enamelling than for large scale work.”

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Her first New Zealand work was made with tools she brought in a backpack when visiting New Zealand in 1991, with no intention of staying. She’s been here ever since.

Sally says she has seen a recent rise in popularity of hands-on craftwork and creativity, as people rediscover skills their grandparents had.

“I get a real buzz seeing evidence of the younger generation taking old skills and old machines and making them work in a contemporary way. New generations are re-discovering enamelling and metalwork with the advantage of new technology sometimes helping them achieve very different work.”

Sally Laing’s Jewellery Enamelling workshop is part of The Learning Connexion’s Summer Skills. Taught by some of New Zealand’s leading contemporary artisans, Summer Skills is a two-week event running 18 to 29 January 2021 that will take your skills to new levels in jewellery enamelling, leatherwork, sculpture, painting, felting or mosaics. 

For more information and to register, visit www.tlc.ac.nz/summerskills

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