Lucy Folk has pretty much always made jewellery. She started in kindergarten, stringing together pieces of rigatoni and bow tie (farfalle) pasta. Now a trained silversmith, these humble beginnings became the inspiration behind her first range of ‘wearable food’.
Mixing her two passions – food and jewellery – Folk has continued with this theme for every collection since, with Nibbles (chips, pretzels, pop corn and burger rings), Pasta (farfalle, rigatoni and spaghetti) and Seafood (crab claws, sea urchins, lobster legs and oyster shells). This year, Folk has been working on a new collection for a range inspired by Mexican cuisine, namely Taqueria.
“A taqueria is a taco shop, so I made a giant taco that houses the new collection and acts as my taco shop," she explains of her five metre-long walk-through taco, in which she displayed the collection at the launch in October.
Inspired by Mexican culture and cuisine, this new collection features pieces in gold and sterling silver, including tortilla chip rosary necklace and earrings; taco rings, hoop earrings, necklaces and money clips; day of the dead necklaces; Aztec triangle earrings; Frida flower brooches and more. It's a big range, the result of a year’s work. It’s also a carefully considered range, notably different from the last – as always – but continuing on her theme of food.
Folk produces her jewels in Pieces of Eight studio, a shared space behind the small, identically named gallery opposite the lawn bowls club in North Fitzroy. Each piece is handmade.
"My friend Craig and I make all of the jewellery. It’s a mini operation and I am proud to say that it ain't easy but I’m sticking to my guns and keeping my production here," Folk explains, referencing her brief encounter of outsourcing overseas earlier in the year.
"I went Thailand and worked with a small workshop that deals only with boutique designers, much like Pieces of Eight. I found it was quite difficult to convey my ideas and the outcome was not what I had hoped. It’s very hard to control the quality and craftsmanship when you are not there to oversee everything, and I'm a bit of a perfectionist."
That said, part of the beauty of Folk’s work is that there are imperfections, due to the handcrafted nature of her work. Each bump and dent is unique to a piece she has made with her own hands and imprinted with her signature.
"It was actually the best thing that happened to me because it made me realise what sort of brand I want to be,” she says of the Thailand experience. “I want to create everything by hand here in Australia and keep things limited. The price point will still be high as I cannot compete with the labour costs offshore, but it means that my pieces will be unique."
This is true of Folk’s range, built around a ‘quality not quantity’ aesthetic. She doesn’t skimp on materials or quality and wherever she can she likes to mix gold and silver and be as creative as possible with different materials. Accessories aren't as disposable as fashion and Folk finds that even though she adds to her catalogue with a new range of edible pieces each year, past collections have a timeless nature to them.
"The popcorn and farfalle rings are still popular," she notes as she polishes my own silver nugget popcorn – an ambiguous shape often mistaken for a rotting tooth – from her collection from several years back. "It's still one of my favourite pieces," she adds.
With a corncob in one hand and a margarita in the other, Folk's looking forward to adorning herself in tacos and corn chips all summer. No wonder her new range is pretty delicious.
In Melbourne, Lucy Folk pieces are sold through Piece of Eight Gallery, which recently moved into a new retails space in the city. Other stockists include Alice Euphemia, Glitzern and Arabella Ramsay.