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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | October 15, 2019

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Nadine Schmoll of Spiritfire Designs: Up-cycle and Wearable Art Artist

Ratu Lewis

Nadine at work station

Here at Creative Drinks we are always looking out for things that are unusual and unique. So we were ecstatic when we discovered the intriguing and charming  accessories and home ware designs of Nadine Schmoll from Spiritfire Designs. And that we just had to meet and chat with her….

CD: Tell us a little about yourself.

NADINE: I was born in Germany. I migrated out here when I was about 4 years old and I’ve always been into doing things that are creative, especially trying to use salvaged materials. I was the kid back in primary school who always had the salad sandwiches forlunch that were wrapped in reused plastic bags from corn chips packets. So thanks to my mum I’ve always had that environmental consciousness I suppose, which is now come out in my work and art.

CD: What is Spiritfire Designs?

NADINE: Spiritfire Designs is my label that I created back in 2008. Basically what I do is that I make jewellery, handbags and home wares. I started off only making wearable art but it changed and morphed to focus more on products that are made using salvaged and up-cycled elements. Because that’s something that’s really important for me is being able to make products that are eco friendly and minimise my ecological footprint on the environment.

CD: How important is the environment to you?

NADINE: It’s pivotal to everything we do. I think that environmental protection and having a social conscious is something that for me is a way of life, it’s a part of what I do in my everyday life. So thinks like having a compost bin or reusing plastic bags or only using calico bags when I go shopping; all these little things to me it’s normal, I don’t have to think about it. It’s just the way that I choose to live my life.

CD: Where does the name Spiritfire come from?

NADINE: When I first created the label I wanted something the signified passion and fire; something that when women wore my pieces that they would feel empowered, they’d feel strong, they’d fell motivated, they’d feel confident and beautiful. So I really wanted something that was going to signify all of that in one or two words. And my little logo, it’s like a birds surrounded by fire, to me it symbolises a phoenix which is an age old symbol of rebirth and renewal. So that then ties in with the up-cycled and salvaged use of materials because what I’m doing is giving things a second life just as the phoenix is always reborn as something new and different.

CD: It’s really interesting how it all just tied in like that.

NADINE: It just happened organically. I remember…I think my first piece of jewellery I made was back in primary school, I started making friendship bands. I had a little stall at the school fete, I think I made a profit of about $5. From that I’ve always just wanted to create. I’ve just found materials lying around and just thought what can I do with this? I can use this to make something else whather it be buttons or beads or whatever it is.

CD: Is that where your inspiration comes from, just from seeing objects?

NADINE: Yeah from the materials themselves. And the actual experience of finding those materials as well. That’s what I find really exciting, is actually….I go to a lot of garage sales, I go op shopping or go to markets…it’s the thrill of the chase. It’s the element of surprise, not knowing what I’m going to find when go out there and go looking for things. So that to me is always really exciting; when I come back and I’m just so pumped  and I’m like, ‘Wow, I found this amazing thing and now I can turn it into something else.’

CD: What was your most exciting find?

NADINE: Well my most exciting find I haven’t really bought it yet but I have found it. It’s a whole bunch of crystals from a chandelier at Reversed Garbage.

CD: Have you already envisioned what you’re going to do with it?

NADINE: Sometimes ideas come to me straight away. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer. I might sleep on it and I might think of something while I’m dreaming at night and then I’ll wake up and think ‘Oh I could just do this.’ Other times I’ll just start making something and I’m not really sure where it’s going and so I just need to have faith and just let the creative process guide me and see what will evolve from that.

CD: Whats the craziest thing you’ve made something out of?

NADINE: Would probably have to be the wearable art design that I submitted for the wearable art competition at the Eumundi Body Art Carnival, which was in May this year. The theme was Under the Sea and I really wanted to use vinyl records in the costume cause that’s a material that I love to use. But I found it was really difficult to try and make something that was really flowing and flexible and try and mould it to a person’s body. I did end up succeeding…I hope. So I used the vinyl records, I used video tape, fabric, chips packaging, silver foil and an old belly dancing costume as well. So yeah that was pretty crazy and fun.

CD: How did you do in the competition?

NADINE: Well I didn’t get through to the finals unfortunately. I think it was pretty tough competition but I’ll definitely try again next year.

CD: You keep using the term ‘wearable art.’ What is it?

NADINE: Basically art that is wearable, that’s probably the most basic interpretation.  So a form of jewellery or accessory whether it be a necklace or a fascinator. Usually it’s something where a lot of work has gone into it. It’s not your standard jewellery I would say it’s something a little bit special, it’s something more out there.

CD: Who is your favourite wearable art designer?

NADINE: Probably one of my favourites is Margaux Lange. She’s an international designer, she’s a gold and silver smith by trade but she actually uses barbie dolls in her work. She actually cuts the Barbie doll into pieces and she’ll use that to turn it into a pendant or turn it into a ring and it’s just really, really amazing.

CD: Who else influences me?

NADINE: I would say my sister cause she models a lot of my pieces. She was my inspiration for the wearable art I did for the Eumundi competition. A lot of my designs I guess are made to fit her as well.  Because she’s got that really confident and out there personality and that’s something I really like to promote through my art. So yeah I think she’s definitely one of my muses.

CD: Do you do stuff for guys too?

NADINE: I don’t do stuff for guys. I haven’t gone into that one yet.

CD: A bit stumped?

NADINE: To be honest I just feel it’s much more interesting do things for girls. Maybe one day I will but at the moment I’m just happy focusing on women’s jewellery and home wares.

CD: So how do you find time to do your creating?

NADINE: Ah finding time, that’s always a challenge. Because I work part time…that’s my job that pays the bills but then I also do Spiritfire. Its pretty much just anytime I can find; on the weekend or in the evenings. You’ve got to be very disciplined and very dedicated. You’ve got to sacrifice a few things too but if you’re really passionate about it that’s just what you’ve got to do.

CD: Describe your creative process.

NADINE: Basically it will start off with me going to look for the materials. Once I find

Button and rose necklace

them I might have an idea on a colour scheme and then I’ll just go down into my studio space and have a play around with everything; see how it all fits together. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s just about experimenting and if it doesn’t work the first time I’ll just leave it and come back to it another time when my minds a bit more fresh and I have a few more ideas and just keep working on it. So once the piece is complete what I usually do is get some input from family and friends just to see what they think. Then I’ll put it out at my market stalls and see how it goes. And if people like ti that’s great I’ll stick with it. If it’s not selling then I’ll look at making some changes.

CD: How do you find the ‘market scene’ in Brisbane?

NADINE: Brisbane is great for markets. Markets are coming up everywhere at the moment. I’ve tried quite a few different markets to see what works for me and I found that I really love the Young Designers markets at South Bank which are the first Sunday of every month. So I’m always there every month. They’re great because its really wonderful to have the interaction with customers, to see  what they think about the things that I make and hear what they have to say. Because being an artist it can be a bit isolated at times, you’re at home on your own and you don’t have that contact with other people. So thats the thing for me that I really love about the markets is being able just to chat to people and to be inspired by all the other stall holders and the creative things they have for sale as well.

CD: Where else other than the markets can people see and buy your designs?

NADINE: They can go to my web site which is www.spiritfiredesigns.com. Or they can got to Etsy, I’ve got an Etsy stall as well and they can just buy directly online.

CD: Where do you hope Spiritfire Designs is going to go or take you?

NADINE: World domination! No, I think that I would really like to be in a position where…I guess I would love to see some of my jewellery being worn by musicians or celebrities for example, that would be really exciting. Even people in Brisbane; I think the measure of mu success would be if I was walking down the street and I could see a lady wearing one of my designs that would be really exciting for me. And I’m gonna keep doing it as long as it’s something I find enjoyment out of then I’ll keep doing it.

CD: Do you have any advice for fellow artists and wearable art artists?

NADINE: Definitely. I think the hardest part is having the belief in yourself that you can do it. Because for me I was…it took me quite a while to believe that art is something I can do and I can do well. Because I had this idea in my head that because I have so much fun doing this like it should be a lot harder than this; and I should get a real job basically. So I think having the belief in yourself is really the first step. And just giving it a shot and seeing what happens because you put it out there to the universe and you’ll be surprised what will come back.

CD: Thank you so much for your time. We really love your stuff and wish you all the best with Spiritfire Designs.

Make sure you head to the Spiritfire Designs website and Facebook page to check out Nadine’s up-cycled, wearable art designs.

Nadine has also done an exclusive DIY brooch video tutorial for Creative Drinks which you can watch here.