Sophia Emmett completed a traineeship at the Jam Factory, Craft and Design Centre in Adelaide and studied Visual Arts at Monash University, majoring in hot glass. Sophia has travelled extensity in Australia and the USA, pursuing her career in design. She has worked with a number of master glass blowers and has undertaken several artist-in-residency programs, including the Canberra School of Art and a fellowship at the Creative Glass Centre of America. She also taught at the Australian Nation University.
When she moved to Newcastle in 2012 she created Workshop 85.
Why Workshop 85?
I wanted to create a commercial product that was separated from my glass work. Using this branding sets the commercial product apart from my art. For me Workshop 85 is about exploring unexpected materials and finding beauty in surprising places.
Given your strong glass working background why coal jewellery?
In Newcastle there was no longer a glass industry so I needed to adapt my craft to make a living. I started to explore and experiment with different materials and discovered coal among other things.
Where does your coal come from?
I find it along the Newcastle foreshore, washed up on the beach.
What is it about coal that appeals to you?
Its an incredibly refined, beautiful, ancient rock. The exploitation as a fossil fuel has given it a bad name. Making jewellery from coal highlights its raw and natural beauty. It starts a conversation about the environment and how precious coal is. It provides a conversation about peoples’ perception and value of the natural resources in Australia.
Do you still exhibit your glass art?
Yes although not often. It takes a lot of time and money to exhibit and I can’t earn a living of my exhibitions. I earn a living off my commercial products: the coal, mesh and graffiti jewellery, so this is my focus.
What do you enjoy about designing?
I like the challenge of designing and making pieces that are intimate, wearable constructions. I’m fascinated with the relationship between texture and form, simplicity and proportion.
What is your aim when creating jewellery?
I want to create thoughtful, beautiful pieces that people can cherish. In each piece there is a story of a found object, of something reclaimed and then of something loved.