JamFactory a breeding ground for craft industry talents

For the past 45 years, South Australian craft institution JamFactory has built up an extraordinary pool of talent featuring some of the country’s finest artisans.

Set up in 1973 as an initiative of the Dunstan government to connect craft and industry to help grow the state’s economy, the not-for-profit organisation is about more than just showcasing bespoke pieces across glass, ceramics, furniture and metal design.

“Craft in its inherent sense is about respecting skills that have been around for a very long time, some are technology changers,” says JamFactory CEO Brian Parkes.

Ceramic artist and designer Ebony Heidenreich in the ceramics studio. Photo by Andre Castellucci.

“I meet with bureaucrats around the country who would love to replicate something like JamFactory but there isn’t the political wheel or budgetary bravado to produce anything like it, so it’s something that will be for a very long time, a great South Australian unique property.”

“There is nothing else like it in Australia and nothing quite like it in the world.”

JamFactory, located on Morphett Street in Adelaide’s West End and at Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley, features purpose-built ceramics, glass, furniture, and metal design studios.

It offers a place for artists and designers to hone their craft and access equipment and gallery space as well as further their skills in business.

A jewellery maker’s workspace. Photo by Andre Castellucci.

JamFactory’s glass studio is the largest open access glass studio in the southern hemisphere and has welcomed a number of elite craftspeople, including two of the country’s most renowned designer-makers, Clare Belfrage and Nick Mount.

JamFactory has enjoyed some “pretty stellar growth” in the last five years, with its turnover increasing and supported by a growing retail income.

The craft and design centre also houses exhibition and retail spaces that showcase not only SA artists, but high-quality contemporary designs from across the country.

“Our retail (income) last year grew 10%. This year after the first quarter it was 32% on the previous year. That’s pretty amazing stuff and that’s the interest in craft,” Brian says.

JamFactory’s Adelaide retail space. Photo by Andre Castellucci.

JamFactory also has an online retail store and between this and the two brick and mortar shops, more than 200 independent artists and designers are represented with total sales coming in at about $1.4 million.

JamFactory takes on a handful of emerging talented designers and makers from across the country who undertake the intensive two-year associate program. Associates take up space in one of the four studios and produce work with the potential of selling it in JamFactory’s stores.

The associate program was a launching success for ceramic artist Stephanie James-Manttan who began her journey with JamFactory in 2007/08.

Stephanie James-Manttan will head up the ceramics studio in early 2019.

Since completing the program she went on to continue her love for the pottery wheel and has since built a solid career in the local ceramics community.

In 2019 she will again take up a spot at JamFactory, taking over from Damon Moon as head of the ceramics studio, mentoring associates, undertaking research and development for commission projects, and ensuring the studio runs safely.

Stephanie’s work has been acquired by the Art Gallery of SA and the Department of Premier and Cabinet, while through her own practice she’s collaborated with clients including Well Made, Beaumont Tiles and the SA Department of Environment and Water, among others.

British actor Dev Patel – who stars in film Hotel Mumbai which was mostly shot in Adelaide – even bought one of Stephanie’s pieces through JamFactory’s shop.

Some of Stephanie’s works.

Stephanie crafts stonewear pieces such as mugs, teapots, travel cups and bowls, as well as bespoke ceramic bowls and vases with woven-like characteristics.

“Porcelain has a really beautiful quality about it, it’s a flesh-like quality, it’s translucent, it’s sexy, it’s sleek and it translates what I do so well,” she says.

“The way I squeeze into the clay, it affects the balance and the lightness of the work, it’s just a beautiful material to work with. It’s very fickle though, it will crack and it makes you stop and slow down.”

Stephanie says many of the skills practiced at JamFactory’s studios should be cherished.

“The things that we make here and the studios we have here … these are trades that are dying, we’re actually conserving the skills and the abilities required to make things out of the materials we work with,” she says.

“In this mass consumed world, people should be buying homemade things. They last longer which means less landfill.”

Stephanie commends SA’s training pathways in the craft sector, including TAFE SA and university courses that offer creative arts courses incorporating ceramic teachings.

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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MJP Studio a showcase of quality craftsmanship in our city

Crafting timeless pieces that are made to last is at the core of South Australian furniture designer Matt Pearson’s studio in Adelaide’s north eastern suburbs.

The craftsman is behind MJP Studio, maker of handmade and one-off designs that are manufactured from high quality materials with precision and passion.

Matt has an eye for refined style and a drive to make use of SA’s local supplier base wherever he can, and says Adelaide’s strong support networks allow the small but strong craft and furniture industry to flourish.

Matt Pearson in action at the Hendon-based MJP Studio. Photo by Lewis and Wilson Photography.

“The thing about Adelaide is that people support each other, they support good design and culture, they give back, and that instils confidence in me and my business,” he says.

“Supporting local is incredibly important and it’s something I’m doing in my business as well, I use local suppliers as much as I can. If local businesses expect people to buy local then they should be supporting local too.”

Matt strives to craft furniture pieces “to be woven into the fabric of the family home” but also builds custom designs for commercial and retail markets.

The Husk chair features Australian Wool-blend fabric. Photo by Heidi Wolff.

He encourages consumers to see the value of investing in high-quality locally made products and not fall victim to “high turnover consumerism” where furniture is mass manufactured and likely to be thrown away – not repaired – if broken.

He says a market of consumers who choose well made and sustainable bespoke pieces does exist, helping to sustain not only his own business, but the industry as a whole as the effects trickle through.

“With low cost furniture, if it breaks people will just throw it away, whereas if you’ve spent time with a furniture maker along the process you become connected to the maker … good furniture is made so it can be repaired,” Matt says. “A lot of contemporary makers push that and it’s always something MJP Studio has always done.”

His playful yet sophisticated works are made from high quality, locally sourced timbers from Australian and American origin, while leather and Australian wool also works their way into the fabric on some pieces, such as dining chairs and armchairs.

MJP Studio’s coffee table, the ‘Crossover’. Photo by Heidi Wolff.

Matt is originally from Sydney and moved to Tasmania in 2011 to complete a Bachelor of Environmental Design with Honours at the UTAS School of Architecture and Design, majoring in furniture.

He had heard of SA’s renowned craft and design hub JamFactory during his time at university and ended up applying for a coveted associate position within its furniture studio.

Matt was successful in gaining the spot at JamFactory in Adelaide and worked under the guidance of furniture designer Jon Goulder before going on to have his own studio there for one year.

Matt says he made the decision to remain in SA because Adelaide “ticked all the boxes”, with MJP Studio now settled as one of the city’s high end furniture manufacturers.

“Aesthetically, my style is influenced by Scandinavian design and contemporary Australian architecture and I think that comes from my training in Tassie,” he adds.

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Global collectors blown away by SA glass artists

Glass artists from South Australia are gaining increasing global recognition as the state’s unique arts institutions help create opportunities on the world stage.

“When it comes to glass, on an international and national scale SA is renowned,” says Emma Fey from SA’s leading creative organisation Guildhouse.

She cites a group visit this month from Canada’s Corning Museum, revealing that Adelaide was specifically chosen for meetings with key glass practitioners over other cities in Australia.

Emma says that SA has “some really unique specialisations” that are a legacy of its strong teaching institutions created from the 1960s onwards.

She lists the likes of SALA Artist of 2018 Clare Belfrage who “has won a bucket load of prizes” and made several overseas visits representing her work this year among particularly prominent names.

Wakefield Press recently published a monograph Clare Belfrage: Rhythms of necessity exploring the significance of her contribution to contemporary international glass art.

Clare has maintained a distinguished practice for more than 25 years with her highly detailed blown glass making her one of the country’s most renowned designer-makers.

Clare Belfrage’s glass work, ‘A wash in greens’.

Then there’s the “extraordinarily talented” Nick Mount, whose work is represented in major private and public collections including state galleries and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

And Tom Moore, well-known for his maximalist style and is one of Australia’s most respected glass artists.

Emma from Guildhouse believes the rich relationships between institutions like Adelaide’s JamFactory “where Clare still blows hot glass in the studio a couple of times a week” build a strong arts community.

“It’s feedback we often get from larger cities, especially on the east coast of Australia,” she says. “In SA we’re small enough that the ecosystem is dynamic and there’s lots of collaboration.”

The former development manager at the Art Gallery of South Australia took over the reins of Guildhouse about 18 months ago.

Established in 1966, Guildhouse was originally known as the Craft Association of South Australia, and is a member-based organisation promoting and supporting the careers of living SA artists, art students, curators, installers and arts workers.

Emma has overseen the peak body reaching record membership numbers, growing 15% to 830 members during her time in the role.

The organisation also moved to the Lion Arts Centre among other contemporary arts institutions in the West End of the city during December last year with support from Arts SA – which also has led to a “huge increase in the number of people popping in”.

Emma says it’s all about “connecting artists with the outside world and letting the magic happen”.

She refers to the organisation’s Well Made website – created to showcase high quality and bespoke creative work in SA and to give buyers looking for unique work the opportunity to connect directly.

Emma Fey from SA’s leading creative organisation Guildhouse says the state’s glass artists are renowned on a global scale.

There’s been a particular focus on strengthening the platform with Guildhouse last year winning a Google Adwords grant worth US$120,000 to spend US$10,000 per month on Google Adwords. The move has doubled Well Made website views, reaching up to 300 visitors a day.

It’s also seen an increase in enquiries resulting in commissions from the likes of Twentieth Century Fox to the City of Charles Sturt and The Gallery restaurant and bar on Waymouth Street in Adelaide. Emma says more than 50 artists now use the curated site.

“There are quite a few commissions coming through the website and we really want to grow that,” she says.

“We have a really diverse sector of artists working across all forms of visual arts practice – from the more traditional to new and experimental art.

“Some of the emerging artists are jaw-droppingly amazing. Likewise, we have an enviable cohort of accomplished mid-career and established artists that have chosen SA as their home and place of business – we are incredibly fortunate.”

Emma believes there’s been a gradual change among artists who look toward creating sustainable businesses, with Guildhouse supporting them through their website, workshops and funding opportunities.

“For a number of artists the language around marketing and understanding what they bring to the market place is something new, but it feels like that is changing,” she says.

“Still, the key thing I would say is that when it comes to succeeding, your work has to be excellent – the important thing is to have great work and from there anything is possible.”

Header image is of glass artist Clare Belfrage. Photo by Grant Hocking.

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Slowing it down in the world of craft

In an industry consumed with fast fashion and big brands, Adelaide shoemaker Matea Gluscevic is proving that slow and sustainable is best when it comes to the world of custom-made creations.

“I can’t really participate in fast fashion or trends because by the time a trend comes and goes, I’m only at the research, development and pattern making stages,” says Matea from her workshop at creative hub The Mill on Angas Street, Adelaide.

“My satisfaction comes from making something that I know will last a long time. I want somebody to be able to have my shoes for ages.”

The 30-year-old designer and maker launched her own shoe brand just over a year ago, with the first order placed by a woman in Portland, Oregon, in the US who had spotted Matea’s shoes on Instagram.

Matea’s workspace at The Mill. Photo by Christopher Arblaster.

Since then Matea’s brand has transitioned through a few name changes and different style directions, from minimalistic and basic block coloured sandals to more futuristic and colourful designs.

Her label underwent a rebrand recently to become Matea Gluscevic Handmade, – in response to Matea’s desire to adopt to a more genuine and sincere style suited to her own personal taste.

The shoes are made to order, taking about three weeks to craft from sustainably sourced materials including wild kangaroo leather, cork and recycled rubber.

The vegetable tanned kangaroo leather is considered more environmentally friendly than typical chrome tanned bovine leather and is sourced from South Australian kangaroo leather tannery Vacel Leather in Adelaide’s north.

“Veg tan leather is made using bark tannins, so it’s better for the environment … I would rather not have too much of a guilty conscience in terms of what I’m doing,” Matea says.

“Even the rubber I use is made from 20% recycled content.”

These custom fit house slippers feature green holographic vinyl, yellow kangaroo leather and a medium density orthopaedic insole.

Matea has been a resident at The Mill for three years, with the first two years of her tenure spent as a sculptor and installation artist.

She brought with her qualifications in shoemaking as well as a Bachelor of Visual Art specialising in sculpture and installation from the University of Adelaide. She even studied a year of dental technology to learn more practical skills with plastering and mould making.

Matea admits that life as an artist can be a tough gig compared to a regular nine-to-five job, and so she works on weekends as a bartender and is also an event manager for a dance party held at an Adelaide nightspot roughly once a month.

Matea’s shoes are made to order and take about three weeks to create. Photo by Michael Papez.

“In terms of being a maker I prefer it here in Adelaide, the environment is better and it feels like a more supportive scene,” she says.

While the life of a craftsperson is usually seen as one spent tucked away in a one-person studio, Matea’s everyday surroundings are quite the opposite.

Although she occupies her own dedicated workspace at The Mill, she’s surrounded by a number of like-minded creators, artists, makers, writers and designers – some emerging, others established.

There’s JamFactory trained jeweller Tanis Blines who shares a studio with her husband John Blines, an artist whose works are entrenched in medical and behavioural science.

Other associate artists include Lisa Penny of Hey Reflect’o, furniture designer Robyn Wood, ceramicist Kate O’Callaghan and tattoo studio XO L’Avant.

Furniture by Peter Fong.

Illustrator and furniture designer Peter Fong has been at The Mill since its establishment in 2013.

Graduating with a visual communications degree at the UniSA, Peter went on to become a freelance illustrator using traditional tools of nibs and ink.

Peter’s portfolio includes wine labels and magazine illustrations and says Adelaide’s close-knit community means he’s rarely had to promote his brand to find work.

He recently pushed the pen to the side to pursue his love for woodwork and furniture design and is preparing to launch his first collection of custom furniture including tables and stools in the near future.

“I mainly use hand tools and try not to use many screws or nails, it’s all joinery,” Peter says.

“I just love building things that last. It makes me happy seeing something down the road and saying ‘yep, it’s still there’.”

A sideboard by Peter Fong.

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Shop South Australia is home to a unique collection of over 300 South Australian gifts and goods from more than 70 local makers and producers. Choose local and Shop South Australia.

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Inspiration aplenty for outback jewellery designer

Jewellery buff Emily Fels may live 400km from Adelaide on a sheep station in outback South Australia, but that doesn’t stop her creative juices from flowing.

The mother-of-two says the Flinders Ranges’ striking sunsets and sprouting wildflowers are a constant source of inspiration for her jewellery line, Emily Jean Designs.

“I’m obsessed with colour so the way the light falls on the ranges is always an endless inspiration for me,” she says.

Emily uses lamp worked glass techniques to create one-off earrings, pendants, rings and bangles.

Emily spends hours in her home studio crafting the delicate pieces.

Made in her home studio on a 50,000-acre sheep station in the Far North town of Hawker, the pieces take hours to create.

Emily uses a high-quality furnace to melt the glass and shape it onto earring posts, pendant bezels and ring bases.

The glass is then fired at a high temperature in a kiln making it “strong and durable”.

“Everything is fused together – there is no glue, meaning it’s stronger,” Emily says.

“I have an idea of how it’s going to turn out and I can recreate color combinations.

“But none of the pieces ever come out the same – that’s the fluid and tactile nature of glass.”

Working dog Roo keeps Emily company during the polishing process.

Originally from Adelaide, Emily studied visual arts at the University of SA, majoring in jewellery design and silversmithing.

“I then studied to become a teacher and twelve years ago I came to Hawker as a prac (practice) teacher.

“As the stereotype goes, I met a farmer and never went back.”

Emily worked as a visual arts teacher in Hawker for 10 years before having two small children.

“When I had kids I was home and had the time to focus on the jewellery,” she says.

“I had learnt silversmithing at uni, but I was always interested in beading and glass.

“So I did a lot of research and focused on making a go of it and creating a proper business.

“I had wanted it for a really long time.”

Emily says living on a 50,000-acre sheep station in the Far North provides plenty of inspiration.

Emily set up an online shop through popular marketplace, Etsy, selling her pieces to jewellery lovers across Australia and in the US.

She also began showcasing Emily Jean Designs at markets in Adelaide, including Etsy Made Local, Gathered and the City East Markets.

Emily recently secured a deal to stock her jewellery in arts and crafts store Kingo Trading in Nagasaki, Japan.

At home, Emily Jean Designs can be spotted at Relove SA, an Ebenezer Place store representing dozens of local independent makers.

In 2016 she showcased her craft at Hawker’s inaugural Flinders Fest, which aims to support local makers and artists.

The bangles are a recent addition to the line.

Emily says the arts scene in Hawker is strong and that living in a regional town is no barrier to creative success.

“Hawker is an amazing place, there are really talented people who live in the area,” she says.

Emily encourages consumers to give local makers and designers a look-in when shopping.

“There’s always a beautiful story behind the label,” she says.

“The products aren’t faceless and have that special feeling.”

Emily Jean Designs can be found at the Fleurieu Fringe from February 16-25 and the Glenelg Sunset Markets on February 25.

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Top 7 local designers to hunt down at Bowerbird Design Market

The Bowerbird Design Market kicks off tomorrow and will see more than 170 independent creatives, designers and craftspeople spread their wares across the Adelaide Showground.

From locally made homewares, jewellery, art and ceramics, we’ve picked out seven SA stalls worth a stop.

Three day festival, running from November 24–26, allows shoppers to meet the makers while enjoying local, artisan eats and beverages.

When: Friday, November 24, 4pm–9pm. Saturday, November 25 and Sunday 26 November, 10am–5pm.

Where: Adelaide Showground, Wayville Pavilion.

Cost: Adults $5, children (12 and under) free.

1. The Butcher Byrd
There’s nothing more nostalgic than the smell of that battered but as soft as butter leather handbag you’ve had for years.

These totes and satchels are designed, drafted, cut, sewn and finished at an Adelaide workshop converted from an old butcher’s shop.

A post shared by Sasha Carroll (@thebutcherbyrd) on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js2. Dana Kinter Art With a Gorman collaboration under her belt, Dana is one to watch on the SA fashion scene.

The Fleurieu Peninsula designer has now collaborated with Goolwa design house Kitty Came Home on a cute range of bi-fold clutches.

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3. WineStains
Based in the Barossa Valley, WineStains make homewares out of recycled wine barrels.

From cheeseboards, to coasters, wine racks and breakfast trays, these beautifully crafted pieces feature unique markings and wine stains.

PHOTO: Zoe Campbell Photography & Design.

PHOTO: Zoe Campbell Photography & Design.

4. Etikette Candles
A candle featuring a blend of fruits, spices and a hint of brandy sauce? It’s the Lobethal Christmas Lights all over.

These beautiful hand poured soy wax candles will make you swoon with scents inspired by areas of SA – including the Fleurieu and Yorke peninsulas.

5. Georgia Walker Designs 
What is the festive season without a ‘cha cha’ earring? Adelaide-based Georgia Walker is your go-to girl.

These swinging creations are big, bold and “the best fun your ears can have”.

A post shared by @georgiawalkerdesigns on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js6. Truth Cosmetics

Nothing but the truth is what you’ll get with this natural cosmetics line formulated and manufactured in SA.

Truth products contain all the yummy stuff – macadamia, jojoba, rice bran oil and shea butter blended with essential oils and extracts – and no nasties.

PHOTO: Truth Cosmetics Australia Facebook.

PHOTO: Truth Cosmetics Australia Facebook.

7. Rhicreative Stationery nerds will love this boutique range of greeting cards, calendars, gift wrap, art prints and well … stationery.

Designed and produced on 100% recycled material by Adelaidian Rhiannon Clohesy, these stationery pieces will dress up Christmas pressies so they’re almost too good to unwrap.

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We’d love you to share your own local purchases with us on Facebook #ichoosesa

Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our State by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.

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