Nature hooks

Jes John

3 March 2021

Jes Johns writes about earrings made by Jill Hermans for adorning yourself with a beautiful fallen leaf.

Just a few short years ago, I was working together with my dear friend Jill Hermans, a contemporary jeweller, on an art exhibition that married our two loves: words and metal. We were overcome with an overwhelming desire to escape the inside—filled with paperwork and planning—for the outside, full of big spaces and calming bush. So an idea was spawned to simply recognise the beauty that was already around us. 

We were lucky. Jill and I both live surrounded by beautiful bush, a hop skip and a jump from private trails meandering through luscious greenery. Leaves fluttered above and crunched underfoot. It can be all too easy to collect special treasures found while out wandering: a colourful leaf, a flower, an interestingly-shaped piece of bark or a heart-shaped rock. 

But what next? Do we fill our homes with these natural wonders, shelves heaped with stones and the lounge covered in leaves? We daydreamed up a better idea. A prototype was whipped up that very day. A sliver of silver adorned with a special Clifton Creek leaf was paraded around to our approving friends. Nature Hooks were the final result: a practical, yet beautiful, collaborative creation that combines foraging and flaunting perfectly.

Nature Hooks are a tool to help you discover nature. Anything fallen that you find as you wander through your environment can be easily secured to your Nature Hook. Designed to be ephemeral, Nature Hooks comprise a pair of earrings. They are an appealing blank slate on their own, which transform into contemporary jewellery when aided by the addition of a leaf. The true joy comes from the temporary quality of your new piece. If your chosen leaves are lost, or deteriorate? Great! It just means it’s time for you to find more gifts from nature.

There are two styles of hooks, each simple and practical. The Simple hook is a single piece of recycled sterling silver, shaped into an earring hook, with a small, flat piece of silver at the end to stop your nature-treasure from escaping. After piercing a small hole in your chosen piece of nature, slide it down to the stopper and pop the hook into your ear. Voila! Art for your ears! 

The Circle style is made from a sterling silver hook attached to a small shibuichi (a magical alloy of copper and silver) circle, with small pins to securely affix your leaves. Small rubber stoppers hold everything in place, enabling you to show off your new finds with pride. The beauty of revelling in nature can be in sharing your experience with those you love, and Nature Hooks prompt not only the start of a conversation but a moment of true shared love for our partnership with nature.

No stranger to partnership and collaboration, myself and Jill co-operate the local artist collective, Foundry (with our friend Clare), in Bairnsdale, on Gunaikurnai country. Through our shop-and-gallery space, we have been able to introduce Nature Hooks to the community and further, utilizing creative networks to pivot the conversation surrounding sustainable, place-based art back to simply appreciating the daily offerings in our environment. 

Nature Hooks offer the wearer an opportunity to become the artist, they flex and transform depending on the treasures found. And what a blessing. It’s an invitation to be present in nature, to discover the world around us with an artistic lens, to bring attention to the small works of beauty that are within reach each day. To find a moment of peace searching for the perfect leaf; to fossick for magic and revel in our connection with country.

About Jes John

Jes is a bush-loving, space-seeking Bruthen-dweller who has more ongoing projects than she does days of the week. Passionate about community, art, and community art, Jes is one of three co-operators of the artist collective Foundry, and a board member of Regional Arts Victoria – and keeper of the books for the East Gippsland Art Gallery. Jes’ family has recently grown to include an 18-month old happy toddler, so you will currently find her daily chasing him and two giant dogs around their garden.  

You can follow Jes at @jes.john, Jill Hermans at @jillhermans_ and the foundry at @f_o_u_n_d_r_y


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