Choosing just one piece to call my favourite from the Lucy Ceramics range of handmade jewellery is a tough decision. Designer Lucy Patrone has entwined all of my favourite things in a cohesive collection of earrings and necklaces with delicate details, dangles and drops, gold and glittering embellishment, pastels and pretty patterns. I’m an unabashed lover of all things ornate and lustrous, and every single Lucy Ceramics piece appeals to this side of me.
Considering her long list of nationwide stockists, it’s surprising that Lucy only launched her self-titled ethical jewellery brand in her late 40s, a little over a year ago.
“I spent over ten years in the jewellery industry designing pieces in collaboration with artisans and stone cutters who had generations of expertise in their craft; it’s why I dream up the shapes, colours and designs that I do. My relationship with ceramics and wheel throwing, though, is a little more complicated. A passion that started in my early 20s has finally reignited, and a chance opportunity to jump on a wheel in Cambodia a couple of years ago propelled me in a new direction I could no longer ignore. My journey and relationship with ceramics is a constant one of learning, developing and challenging myself.”
Lucy’s dedication to ongoing development is evident in her pieces, and season after season, her shapes and patterns slightly evolve while always staying true to her chic-bohemian style. Each pair of earrings is a delicate balance between boldness and simplicity; long tassels are paired with small hand painted droplets, while oversized shapes are softly rounded and adorned with only one or two colours. Every piece is finished with illustrious gold strokes, and entire the process is slow and steady.
“Each jewellery piece begins as a sketch, and I map out the patterns, glazes and decorations. I’ll have an idea of a shape and work on the size and proportions and then make the metal cutters. I make all of my jewellery from an Australian porcelain which feels lovely and is beautifully white when it’s unglazed, which is important as parts of my earrings remain unglazed. I bisque fire the earrings initially in preparation for their stoneware glaze, which is a combination of commercially made glazes and some that I mix myself. Once they’re glazed and decorated, they’re fired for the second time at 1280 degrees. I apply real gold lustre in the final process, and this is when a lot of the patterns are introduced to the jewellery and where I have the most fun. Then, there’s a third and final firing at 780 degrees, and I start the process of putting together the earrings using sterling silver or 22ct gold. I take a lot of care and time in my making; I’d rather make well than make more. I’ve been taught by some amazing ceramists over the years, so I feel strongly about my pieces being of a high standard.”
And high standard they are. When I’ve worn and posted my Lucy Ceramics earrings on Instagram in the past, I’ve often been asked how heavy they are. But, contrary to the common belief, Lucy’s craftsmanship ensures each pair is delicate and light so that they dangle in the wind. The back sides are textured, serving as a reminder of the slow and conscious process, and the smooth front sides glisten in the light and lift any outfit they’re paired with. Put simply, they feel special, because they are special.
“I like to let my customers understand the process of my making. I think this adds value to the piece if there is an appreciation of the full process. I recall someone saying after taking a few pottery classes, ‘How can a potter charge under $100 for a mug, it takes so bloody long to make!’ and this made me laugh a little. But the more we all understand how, where and why ‘throw away’ products are being made, we can all be a bit more aware of our purchasing. We can live with more quality products and less quantity in all aspects of life whether it be food, fashion, jewellery or furniture. In my art practice, I try and operate with as small a footprint as possible, by sharing studio facilities with other artists, recycling materials, and operating with as little wastage as possible.”
This sustainable mindset and her ethical business practices have contributed to her brand’s success thus far, but like most Australian made labels and start-ups, her journey has not been without challenges. Her first year as a full-time business owner and operator was demanding for Lucy, and she found herself saying ‘yes’ to the countless requests that landed in her inbox. Her fear of failure meant little to no work-life balance, and her once neat and tidy house became a constant mess. A year on though, and Lucy has navigated the teething problems of launching a business, and her schedule has settled considerably.
“Now, my days and weeks have a lot more balance, and I work regular hours with only a few late nights and weekends thrown in. Customer enquiries, emails and orders of any kind, are my utmost priority, so it’s the first thing that I action each day. High-quality customer service is an important part of what I want my business to be about, and it’s just as important as the product itself. I feel incredibly fortunate to have re-entered the handmade space at a great time. Firstly, because there seems to be a wonderfully supportive community who love handmade products and who really appreciate ceramics. Secondly, having arrived at a time when social media is so integral to getting your craft out there, I have been able to share my journey so easily.”
Follow Lucy’s journey via her Instagram account and support Australian creators and makers by shopping from her online store at lucyceramics.bigcartel.com.
The Fashion Advocate x