An ocean of colours and creativity

Patti Pennisi is a jewellery designer from Brisbane whose bold colours and organic shapes reflect the environment around her.

Iced Vovo spoke with Patti about what inspires her colourful designs:

Q: I read where you are a trained graphic designer and your work definitely has a graphic element to it how do you think this training has helped your transition in to jewellery design?

A: I think colour research, shape, repetition and pattern are all influenced by my graphic design background. I think I subconsciously absorb and translate a lot of the colour mixtures I see around me into the mixtures and patterns in my jewellery, plus research with Pantone colour selection and colour forecasting/trending pop into my background influence mix too. The creative folk at Arts Queensland (where I worked as a designer for a few years) were a great encouragement for me to do my stuff.

Q: You use a lot of vivid colours is this a reflection of living in Queensland and spending a lot of time at the beach?

A: I went through a restricted black phase for a very, very long time – particularly in my wardrobe, but also in decor. But colourful jewellery started making bold splashes onto my black palette. I suddenly went from a mono/black wardrobe to wanting to wear ALL the colours all at once. Then there’s the subtropical colours from flowers (think hibiscus, bougainvillea, the huge poinciana in our front yard, jacarandas dotted around our neighbourhood and some amazing lush pointy native flowers that are an acid yellow/green colour); and the amazing colours of fish and corals from the reef when my husband and I learnt scuba diving about 20 years ago. When you return home to Queensland from a trip overseas, you really notice colours, too.

Q: There is definitely a connection to marine life in your coral inspired pieces what draws you to these aquatic influences?

A: The beach has always figured largely in my life. Some of my favourite and earliest memories are of walks along the Sunshine Coast beaches after dinner with mum and dad. We’d collect shells and pebbles and watch the phosphorescence in the small waves at our feet. I still have the bits of smoothed coral and parts of shells from back then. As a kid, I always wanted to find little shells that had holes in them so I could thread them on string and wear them as a necklace. If they didn’t have holes, I’d try to drill little holes in them with a sewing needle (this never worked, but I’d always give it a go!). And sometimes I’d paint the shells with nail polish!

Q: I also read that you love Japanese design and the concept of wabi sabi (perfect imperfect), how do think this has translated into your collection?

A: I think wabi sabi found me, rather than me finding wabi sabi! I’ve always done things that show the hand of the maker – why make something perfectly round (and ‘boring’) when it can be a little bent/warped/textured/askew and look quirky, have character, show personality, or become interesting? My husband is amazingly clever at creating things that look absolutely perfect – but he’s amazed at how I make things that aren’t. I think it’s just that I just don’t find ‘perfect’ to be an ideal. I love a bit of character and imperfection.

Q: What else influences your designs?

A: I had the extreme good fortune to see Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe (Torun) when she spoke at a design conference in Sydney more than 10 years ago. Her life was all at once sad, wonderful, creative and amazing and her jewellery designs are timeless, ageless, and minimal yet completely absorbing. She inspired me, and since then I think of her – mostly when I’m making something. She often used pebbles or inexpensive stones in her intriguing silver jewellery.

Q: Do you have a favourite piece in your collection?

A: I’m liking the squiggle bangles at the moment… but I often grab the blue random pebble necklace as I’m heading off to work. And I like wearing the white ‘coral’ necklace on the weekend. It’s a hard decision to name just one piece!

Q: What is the most technically difficult pieces to make?

A: I think I almost put my neck out making the white ‘coral’ necklace!

Q: What materials do you use and what do you most like working with?

A: I made little black and white polymer clay buttons for some clothes when I was in Art College years and years ago. I didn’t realise polymer clay was still available until a few years ago when I was looking around for something I could use to make beads in the shapes I wanted them in! And this time around I’m using all the colour I didn’t use when I was in Art College! Plus timber beads are nice… especially if they’re a little unevenly shaped or coloured.

Fluro lime and shimmery gold polymer clay necklace
Fluro lime and shimmery gold polymer clay necklace
Pink coral necklace
Pink coral necklace
Purple and orange seed pod necklace
Purple and orange seed pod necklace
A selection of rings
A selection of rings
Blue and white rings
Blue and white rings
White coral pebble ear rings
White coral pebble ear rings
Royal blue football and gold random pebble summer earrings
Royal blue football and gold random pebble summer earrings
Squiggle bracelets
Squiggle bracelets

Q: Have you got anything new for the collection teed up for 2013?

A: I woke up in the early hours of Christmas Eve with a couple of what I thought were brilliant new ideas. I had to get out of bed to write them in down in case I went back to sleep and forgot what they were! I haven’t tried them out yet, so in my head they’re still great new ideas!

Q: Is Etsy the only place where can people currently buy your pieces?

A: In Sydney I’ve got pieces at Platform72 (72 Oxford St, Darlinghurst). In Brisbane I’ve got pieces in 2 shops: The Collective Store (Bay Terrace, Wynnum) and Handmade High Street (Ipswich Rd, Annerley). I’ve also had some interest from a lovely gallery up here, so fingers crossed that will eventuate in 2013!


I just love the freshness in Patti’s designs and how they do really reflect the gorgeous marine environments we have here in Australia. Follow the links here to bbppdesigns on Etsy or on the Fab-Finds Page to Patti’s jewellery.

(PS Photos courtesy of bbppdesigns)

3 thoughts on “An ocean of colours and creativity

      • I’m doing all sorts of new things and am supplying to a few regional art galleries through out Queensland. If you want to have a look at my Instagram feed (bbppdesigns) you can see some of my new pieces. We’ve also actually made the move to live by the ocean (!) so you’ll also see lots of dogs-and-beach photos too!
        Lovely to catch up with you again after all this time! So glad you’re still doing the blog!
        Pp

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