Kyosun Jung on making the Enamel Sunset & Enamel Sunrise Beaker
We were pleased to meet with Kyosun Jung, a relatively new talent in the world of silversmithing with an already impressive list of accolades to her name. This summer, that list is growing as Kyosun contributes not one but two unique silver beakers to ‘Made for the Table’, our summer exhibition centered on the evolution of silverware.
What inspired you to become a silversmith?
When I started at university, I actually wanted to be a jeweller. I thought it would be great to make, wear and sell my own jewellery. Then I entered a Goldsmiths' Company competition called the Young Designer Silversmithing Award and won. The piece was my idea and my design, but as a second year student I didn't yet have the skills to make the design a reality, so the Goldsmiths' Company sent me to Clive Burr's workshop at the Goldsmiths’ Centre, where I am today. After three months with him, I learned some very basic skills, and just fell in love with silversmithing. I thought 'I love hammering!'
That winning piece went on to be included in the V&A museum’s permanent collection, and a second version of it is included in the Goldsmiths' Company's collection. I graduated in 2014, and since then have been renting a bench in Clive Burr's workshop here at the Goldsmiths’ Centre, so it was a really big turning point in my life.
How would you describe your design style?
My designs are very simple forms with lots of decoration, often inspired by natural and organic things. I always encourage my customers to use my pieces, rather than just put them in a show cabinet at home, so I make things of beauty that also have a function.
I do a lot of hammering, bending wires and hand engraving between wires, and recently I decided I wanted to create more colorful pieces and so have been introducing enameling to my work. The Goldsmiths' Centre sent me to maker Jane Short’s workshop to learn some very basic enamelling skills, and I created some test pieces with her before beginning on my own. I did a bit of enamelling at university, but it wasn't the same one-on-one experience as in Jane's workshop, and now I love playing with colours.
What were the biggest challenges involved in meeting the brief for Made for the Table?
The biggest challenge for me was to create something different and unique. I wanted a piece that you could look at and know straight away, 'that's Kyosun's work'. Starting with quite a basic, spun beaker shape, it was a challenge to inject my own style. I did a lot of designing and planning, then hammering to alter the shape, then added patterns and enameling — so a very long process!
Why did you decide to create two beakers instead of one?
I had previously created a beaker called The Starry Night using enamel, and I really wanted to create a sky-inspired piece again. So I submitted two designs to the Goldsmiths' Centre — one beaker based on sunrise and one beaker based on sunset, thinking I'd do whichever they chose — but they liked both of them!
What's your favourite thing about creating a piece for commission?
When someone commissions a piece directly from me, it's very personal. Someone purchasing an existing piece — say at Goldsmiths' Fair — is great too, as it means they love my design, but when I'm creating something to order, the reaction of the customer is just so rewarding and special. For example, one lady who commissioned a wedding ring from me called me to tell me she couldn't stop opening the box and looking at it, all day! I find that so encouraging.
Are there any other makers who inspire you?
I love Jane Short, and I love Clive Burr, he's my silversmithing mentor. Those two people are top for me, I admire their work and their process.
What are your favourite things about being a silversmith?
I love that I can make whatever I want, and if a close friend or family member has a birthday or anniversary, I don't need to buy something off the high street, I can just make something special for them. I also love that through Goldsmiths' Fair and various exhibitions, I get to hear a lot of positive feedback, which is great.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring makers?
Preparation is everything — do lots of research and lots of designing. For me, making a model before starting is very important, either paper models, moving models, plastic or 3D printed models. It enables you to see how you can adapt the design, make it bigger or smaller or change an angle here or there.
How have your experiences with the Goldsmiths' Centre impacted your career?
If I was younger, I'd love to do a course or apprenticeship at the Centre! Since 2013 I've been in Clive Burr's workshop here, and when my clients come to visit me, they're so impressed by the building and the atmosphere, and they love the Bench café as well.
Find out how you can purchase the Enamel Sunrise and Enamel Sunset Beaker.