Image: Regine Schwarzer, Coral efflorescence. Photograph: Grant Hancock.

As a jeweller, Regine Schwarzer knows how crucial in-person learning is when refining a craft skill. Regine connected with Barbara Ryman through skill and materials, and approached the internationally recognised enameler to mentor her in refining her enamelling techniques.
We interviewed Regine about what it’s been like to undertake a CATAPULT mentorship and the impact it has had on her practice so far.
Describe your practice.

I am a jewellery artist. My practice spans over making new work for exhibitions, individual commissions, small production lines for galleries and teaching privately, at community organisations and at the Adelaide College of the Arts.

What were your aims for your practice when you applied? Did they change during the course of the mentorship?
My mentorship is adding another facet to my practice. The range of techniques I have learned and applied is quite vast. Enamelling is very complex and Barbara has been helping me to gain a deeper knowledge and thought me some new enamelling techniques such as painting and drawing on enamel as well as enamelling small vessels.
How did you decide on and approach your mentor?

I picked one of the best enamelers in Australia and another important aspect was such our aesthetics are similar for the reason that Barbara can understand the visual results I want to achieve.

What aspect of your mentorship has had the biggest impact so far?
All  metal and enamel working techniques are very laborious and time consuming and having to repeat and get stuck on technical issues is not very helpful. Enamelling requires a very complex approach and without guidance it would be very frustrating just working along trial and error. It has been invaluable to know how how to approach a technique the right way, step by step and have help with troubleshooting. 
What advice would you give artists who are considering undertaking a mentorship?
  • Be very clear about what it is that you want to achieve and be open to learn so much more.
  • Choose your mentor carefully.
  • Communicate clearly the outcomes you would like to achieve.
  • Respect your mentor and his/her experience and knowledge.
  • Consider and follow  their advice.
  • Have constructive discussion in case you dont understand or disagree.
  • You are there to learn – be open.
Regine Schwarzer

Regine Schwarzer trained in jewellery making and metalwork at the Zeichenakademie Hanau, Germany, one of the oldest training institutions in Europe. In 1993 she moved to Australia and is currently she is a tenant at JamFactory, center for contemporary craft and design in Adelaide.

With a Masters Degree in Visual Arts and Design, Schwarzer exhibits widely nationally and internationally and her work is included in many private collections. Her work has been published in many books and magazines.

Barbara Ryman

Barbara Ryman has been a jeweller and an enameller for more than thirty years. Shaping and manipulating metal gives her great enjoyment. There are many techniques that add exciting creativity to jewellery making such as piercing, etching, texturing and the many forms of vitreous enamelling.

The inclusion of enamel in her work has kept Barbara particularly intrigued and excited for so long; it has become an integral part of her creative language. Since 2001, she has had the opportunity to study Japanese enamelling techniques in Nagoya, Japan. Babara has visited Japan six times, with her last trip taking place in April 2012.

Through her teaching Barbara introduces my students to this beautiful and intimate craft; she passes on the knowledge and experience that was shown to her.