Meet the Maker
Our September edition of Meet the Maker delves into the work and life of independent jewellery designer and gallery owner Maja Piechocka.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
My name is Maja Piechocka and I am a freelance jewellery and candle designer, I am also a co-owner of Destreza Designs (based in the Craft and Design Centre) and Kula Gallery, both in Manchester. I graduated from the Manchester School of Art in 2012 where I was studying Three Dimensional Design. My practice is strongly based around colour and multimedia, I work with precious and non-precious metals and combine them with other materials including resin, spray paint and stones.
What drew you into making Jewellery and pursuing a career in the craft?
I come from a family of makers: my dad made women’s bags and was great with woodwork; my mum is a skilled knitter and my sister is a ceramist, so you could say that making is running in my blood! I have been making things all my life and jewellery is just one of my passions that I’m focusing on right now but who knows where it will take me. I was drawn into jewellery because of the process of working with metal and heat; it’s a hard and temperamental material but very rewarding. I also really like the idea that my creations can be worn by different people; they can travel and be seen all over the world. The idea of a portable gallery has always spoken to me.
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
A dancer and then later on an archaeologist, plus many other careers along the way.
What is it about having your own jewellery business/independently making jewellery that you enjoy the most?
I love being my own boss, creating my own targets and goals. Jewellery is just one of the ways to express yourself and bring happiness to other people. I enjoy the constant learning process and always try to embark on new projects and themes. That innovative approach ensures I’m never bored or feel stagnated in my work. It keeps my designs lively and my enthusiasm high. I love waking up every day and going to work and I consider that a great blessing.
What are you working on right now?
I always work on several things at once: Firstly, I am preparing for the winter exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery so that’s my main objective at the moment; secondly, I am establishing my creative focus for the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair this year. In addition, I am in the process of finishing several commissions for customers, and preparing for online sales.
What hasn’t gone as you expected in your career?
I never expected this career path to be easy so I would have to say nothing. Anyone in a creative process just has to be prepared for the unexpected. Every plan B has a valuable lesson and very often my most unexpected directions artistically proved to be the most successful.
What are your key inspirations in your practice?
Almost every collection I work on has a different theme; I am constantly learning and exploring new design concepts and innovative ways of using my diverse materials. I create each collection after putting out many curious feelers; consider myself to be highly observant and my mind is constantly on red alert for new ideas that are often not in the least related to the jewellery-making process. But they trigger a resonance in me and I then follow the idea through in my work, perhaps the shapes or coloration or just the feeling a piece evokes when completed. I am a strong believer that if you just looking at other people’s jewellery you will never be truly original or ground breaking. One of my recent favourites is my science behind food collection where I researched the Michelin Star Cuisine and in result created a collection based on world renowned dishes. It inspired me to explore colour and shape in quite a unique way. I find it fascinating how passionate and artistically skilled some chefs are. This research was very influential in my own practice within that collection in many ways. I drew on their incredible work ethos, passion, and their pushing of the boundaries to stand out from the crowd. I realised you don’t get stars for standing still and being the same.
What is your favourite tool in your toolbox?
Without a doubt it’s my blow torch. I enjoy playing with fire in my designs on my workbench and in my approach to the whole design process; I feel I have to take risks and stretch my originality to produce something I consider to be very desirable.
How do you spend a typical weekend/day off from making?
That happens very rarely but when it does I usually try to visit some friends or family. If I’m too tired which is often the case I usually enjoy a day watching movies in my pyjamas or gardening. When energy is high there’s nothing I like better than visiting off-the-beaten-track galleries. I go most places on my bike. I cycle everywhere I can: it makes me feel free and gives me a great view of the world.
Which project or piece in particular are you most proud of so far and why?
I don’t have a favourite piece of work but I’m really happy with one of my recent rings; it’s very simple but striking at the same time and I love the Tourmaline stone in it which was a present from a close friend.
Do you have any current or upcoming shows where we can see your work in person?
My work can be found in the MAG, Kula and Destreza at the moment. I’m preparing for winter MAG /GNCCF/ and I’m also planning to start selling online soon. That’s one of my main priorities right now.
What is your favourite piece of advice or feedback that have you been given that has given you the confidence to persevere?
Create your own reality and don’t wait for things to happen to you; make them happen yourself!
Finally, could you choose one of your favourite designers from MJN and tell us why?
My favourite MJN maker is Alice Beesey. She is a maker relatively new to the scene, but she has a lot of style and is passionate about her work. I find her jewellery very elegant and original with bold and eye-catching designs. I am looking forward to seeing more from her in the future.