2015 2nd Place - Silver
Kate Hubley's jewelry-making techniques revolve around challenge and innovation, which led her to win second place in the Silver/Argentium® Silver Saul Bell Design Award competition in 2015. Her winning necklace, "MagiSphere Concept," is a piece of two-fold design, which has a pendant that can be worn collapsed or collected into a neat circular locket. The name itself speaks to her futuristic and inventive methods of creation. We were able to get to know Kate a bit more and learn of her daring dive into becoming a full-time jeweler.
WHAT LED YOU TO BECOME A JEWELER?
Firstly, I am a raven. I have always been drawn to shiny things. Even more, I have always been fascinated by the stories behind the jewelry people wear. My actual journey as a jeweler is little meandering.
I am an ad girl, working as a writer in Montreal's fast-paced advertising world for the past 20 years, but jewelry design has always been a huge part of my life. I took my first class at NSCAD (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design) with Charles Lewton-Brain (cool, right?) in the '80s while I was struggling through computer science and accounting at university. Quit that! Moved to Montreal to do my BA in translation and ended up doing a two-year apprenticeship with a local designer.
After I finished my MA, I kept exploring design and went to jewelry school evenings and/or weekends, mostly at L'École de Joaillerie de Montréal (Montreal Jewelry School) I always had a studio in my home.
Three years ago, I decided that I had to break up with advertising and focus all of my energy on my one true love: jewelry. So, I took the leap from the super secure to the vast unknown, and here I am today—pretty happy with my decision.
DESCRIBE YOUR BENCH.
My bench is a little fancy. It was custom-built with love by a long-lost friend and cabinet-maker, and it has a lot of design details that are perfectly "me." For example, I have two catch drawers—one for metal, one for wax—because I am always switching back and forth. The storage drawers are upcycled from a weird and wonky piece of furniture I got an auction.
Mostly, my bench is my happy place, a place of design and technical breakthroughs. This is where I meditate and challenge myself, away from everyday distractions.
And, truth be told, it's a little bit messy. But, I'm working on that.
WHAT DOES "GREAT DESIGN" MEAN TO YOU?
"There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations." - Mark Twain
Great design is all about the extra turn you give to a concept, and that turn has to engage or fascinate the viewer or wearer. It also has to push some boundaries to make it memorable, and have depth, balance and beauty.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO SPEND HOURS WORKING AT YOUR JEWELER'S BENCH?
I am stubborn. Jewelry design involves a lot of engineering, architecture and even some chemistry. I usually start with an idea and try to figure out how I am going to do it, which often means researching and learning. I can't remember the last time I made something I knew how to do before I sat down to create. Bringing an idea to life is indescribably rewarding, especially if it is loaded with challenges.
WHAT DOES WINNING THE SAUL BELL DESIGN AWARD MEAN TO YOU?
Where do I begin? Designers create in virtual isolation (at least I do), and to have my work recognized by a distinguished panel of judges is beyond an honor. It has put such wind in my sails and opened up new horizons. Not to mention all the amazing people I have met over the past few months thanks to this competition. Quite life-changing.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF MAKING A NEW PIECE OF JEWELRY? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT MAKING CUSTOM-ORDER PIECES FOR CLIENTS?
I love coming up with a concept that is beyond mere aesthetics. I guess this is where jewelry-making evolves from a technical discipline to a full-on art form. This emotional investment is something that I share with clients who ask for custom or commissioned work, and the sharing is reciprocal because they are asking me to be part of an important moment or commemoration in their lives.
DESCRIBE YOUR JEWELRY DESIGN STYLE IN THREE WORDS.
Playful, elegant, conceptual.