Meet Irmela Werner from IRMY
Originally from Germany, self-proclaimed ‘wanderer’ Irmela Warner from IRMY creates jewellery in her home studio on the north-east coast of England. Her pieces are inspired by indigenous cultures, pagan traditions, history, nature and fantasy, which lends her collection a fascinating mix of gothic, Viking and woodland influences. She is also a trained precision mechanic, which, as she explains to Aimey from Wubsys, comes in very handy when making jewellery.
Irmela is offering 15% off all her pieces with discount code ‘spookyboo’ until 6th November 2002.
I am truly fascinated by foreign lands and ancient, old-world cultures.Irmela, IRMY
Hi Irmela. How about we start with a little introduction? Tell us about yourself…
Hi Aimey. I’m originally from Germany but have been living abroad for 17 years now. I currently live on the north-east coast of England, where I have my own studio and trade at the beautiful Tynemouth Market every Sunday.
I started making jewellery about 10 years ago and am self-taught, which gives me the opportunity to play around with non-traditional and unconventional ways of jewellery making.
In my free time you’ll find my at the beach by a campfire, in the water with my body board, in the gym lifting weights, on a walk in the forest, dancing at a techno party or sipping a beer at a gig.
What drew you to metal and subsequently making jewellery?
As a tomboy teenager, I wasn’t interested in “traditionally female” professions and decided to study precision mechanics, which gave me the fundamentals of working with metals and machinery at a very precise level and an almost microscopic scale. I acquired a very structured and methodical approach to working with metal, producing industrial items with functional designs, but I always had a knack for art and design and loved creating beautiful things in a more organic and natural way.
After years of travelling and working in different jobs and professions, I started making bracelets from recycled materials as a hobby. Ten years later and here I am, creating silver, copper and leather jewellery full time.
I’m always interested in trying out new techniques, tools and materials: creating beauty and chasing the unknown.Irmela, IRMY
Your jewellery is absolutely beautiful. Where do you find your inspiration?
Thank you! Curiosity is a big part of my inspiration package. I’m always interested in trying out new techniques, tools and materials: creating beauty and chasing the unknown. I’m always on the lookout for the next challenge, and jewellery making is great for that, as there are endless possibilities and techniques to explore.
In terms of topics or themes, I’m really drawn to nature, and dark, alternative, historical, fantasy stuff. Indigenous cultures fascinate me, as well as nature-based pagan traditions like the seasonal festivals. That’s why you’ll find a wild mix of gothic, Viking and woodland-themed jewellery in my collection.
In your shop, you mention that you have travelled extensively. Can you tell us where you’ve been and how your travels have impacted your craft?
Travelling is one of my big passions. I backpacked through Southeast Asia for six months and I followed the South American Andes from south to north in exactly 12 months on a separate adventure, which I think was my most epic trip to date.
I’ve lived in Ireland, Scotland, Spain and England over the past 17 years, did some work and travel and was also a digital nomad for a while, so I’m a bit of a wanderer.
I am truly fascinated by foreign lands and ancient, old-world cultures. There’s a lot of mandala and tribal, as well Celtic and Viking influences in my work, and I’m hoping to explore South America’s cultural and natural wonders soon too.
Can you tell us about the process of making jewellery? How does each piece start?
It’s very intuitive. After my methodical and structured education I’m a bit bored by technical drawings, lists, formulas and planning details. I often have a rough idea of what I want to make and get the materials for it. Then I start trying out designs, put possible stone combinations together, make some rough drawings for a linocut for some new textures, etc.
I equally love buying random materials that I find beautiful and that I’m drawn to, and will lay them out on my bench and start playing around with them until I suddenly find the magic spot of inspiration and creativity. I often end up making things that I didn’t plan to make. It’s a lot about instinct and gut feeling.
What is your favourite piece to make?
Right now, I’m really enjoying honing my skills by revisiting some of my favourite silver designs, like the pumpkins, mandala charms or sun dancer necklaces. Making back-to-basics, hand-crafted pieces using silver clay and sheet is something that I find very grounding at the moment.
Craft gives me freedom to express myself, nourish my creativity and satisfy my curiosity.Irmela, IRMY
What does your craft mean to you?
Freedom. Freedom to express myself. Freedom to nourish my creativity, to satisfy my curiosity and the need to learn something new every day. It gives me the freedom to live the life I want. No 9 to 5s, no boss, no company targets.
It also teaches me to stay motivated to do the business stuff that I’m not good at or don’t particularly enjoy doing, but I’m in the driver’s seat and that means everything to me.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about making and selling jewellery?
It’s vital to be authentic and have a passion for what you do. Whether you make jewellery as a hobby, want to start small as a sole trader or go big as a company, you have to truly love and enjoy making jewellery.
Not every aspect of the process and business is going to be easy and fun, but you should have a true passion for making and creating. Where that passion comes from doesn’t matter, but if you love what you do, it will show in your creations, your business and your own level of satisfaction and happiness. This passion will also sustain and motivate you when the going gets tough.
Enjoy 15% off IRMY with code ‘spookyboo’ before 6th November 2002.
Shop IRMY on Folksy – https://folksy.com/shops/IRMY
Meet the interviewer
The maker asking the questions this time is Aimey from Wubsys – a maker of imaginative, intriguing and beautifully crafted decorative dolls, inspired by fairytales, myths and woodland walks. Read more about Aimey here >