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Expert Jeweller brings rich history to The Learning Connexion

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SallywebLooking for a beautiful way to start the new decade? As part of The Learning Connexion’s Summer Skills, expert designer jeweller Sally Laing will be a running a workshop on the art of jewellery enamelling.

The four-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 four-day event running 21 to 24 January 2020 that will take your skillset to new levels in knife making, jewellery enamelling or leatherwork. It comprises of three specialised boutique classes run by experts in their fields, utilising the Learning Connexion’s studio resources based in the beautiful native bush near Taita Gorge in the Hutt Valley.

“Summer Skills celebrates the rise of craft and the creative processes of the modern artisan. The classes are about hands-on creativity, tapping into the history of each craft while working towards creating your own unique piece of functional art,” says Kiran Gandhi of The Learning Connexion.

Whether it’s through jewellery enamelling, leatherwork or knife making, this is a rare chance to learn some wonderful old-school techniques with a contemporary twist. The classes are suitable for beginners and those wanting their skills tested.

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

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