Britta Böeckmann studied industrial design at the Folkwang University of Art in Essen, Germany. During her schooling, she undertook an internship where she used CAD (computer-aided design) programs to create her first jewelry collection, a line that incorporated precious metals. Today, with her background in cutting-edge techniques, Böeckmann’s designs pair wood with jewel-toned resin to create dazzling handmade accessories. Featured in our Rock Paper Silk store as an exemplary nod to the possibility of raw material, each piece is unique, and is inspired by the beauty of wood from which it is made. We spoke with Böeckmann to learn about her design process.
How did you learn to make jewelry?
During school, I studied and used woodworking tools frequently, as my university had well equipped workshop facilities for the students to build prototypes of their designs. After finishing my studies in 2013, my Australian partner and I moved to Wangaratta, Australia. Not knowing what to do with myself, I started working three days a week at the Wangaratta Woodworkers workshop hoping to earn a little extra money by selling some of my creations. It took me about two months of testing and researching to develop the process of creating the wood and resin jewelry pieces. After experiencing success with these designs, my partner and I moved to Melbourne in 2014, where I opened a small woodworking workshop.
What interests you in making things by hand?
I love working with wood, the material always requires hands-on work. It is my favorite material as it comes in so many beautiful variations. The variety of colors, grains, and densities of wood fascinates me. For me, designing and being creative is the most fun part of the process, and I like how a vision can be executed instantly when making things by hand.
Your work seems to bridge the natural and the man-made. Can you tell me more about that?
I wanted to create a fusion between two very different materials. I find the contrast between natural colors of wood and the eye-popping colors of resin visually pleasing, [and enjoy] exploring the different tactile qualities of the two materials.
Can you walk me through the process of making one of your pendants?
The process starts with sourcing wood—which is quite easy, because I find every piece of wood beautiful and unique. As I only need small pieces for the jewelry, I often find little off-cuts and pieces of firewood that I can use. I color the liquid resin with pigments and combine it with the wood in a cast. Once the cast is cured, each piece is smoothed by hand to its final shape. I like natural shapes inspired by eyes, leaves, or teardrops. Each hybrid then needs to be sanded with several grits until there are no scratches visible to the eye before getting a final polish.
How does it feel to be represented in a museum so far away from where you live and create?
When I first read the email with the request, I thought someone made a joke. I couldn’t believe that The Metropolitan Museum of Art could be interested in my work. It was a great surprise and I feel extremely honored.