Her designs have been worn by Prime Ministers, heads of industry and overseas
celebrities but now Kim Jobson is just as happy working on the farm as making artisan
jewellery as ANGELA KEMP discovered.
With four young children, a 200-hectare dairy farm to run with husband Stu Muir, a major wetland restoration project to maintain (not to mention managing an eco-friendly holiday cottage), it’s no surprise Kim’s jewellery is out of the ordinary.
Taking inspiration from the farm’s stunning location near the Waikato River delta at Aka Aka, Kim creates covetable and bespoke pieces in gold and silver from her rural studio. And, there’s plenty to inspire the girl from Gisborne who grew up on a sheep and beef farm and who ignored her mother’s advice not to marry a dairy farmer.
Over the past six years, with the help of funding from the Waikato River Authority, Kim and Stu have cleared many kilometres of the Papa and Mangati waterways, turning them from choked and dying waterways into vibrant living streams. They’ve created tidal whitebait habitat spawning ponds and planted 40,000 native trees and plants.
However, before her marriage, Kim spent nine years working in Wellington for The Village Goldsmiths where she honed her craft both as a jeweller and a designer. While there she gained her trade certificate as a manufacturing jeweller and made work for many well-known New Zealanders including several Prime Ministers and industry leaders.
“I did have Lenny Henry approach me one night after his show at The Civic,” she recalls. “He wanted to purchase the necklace I was wearing for his now ex-wife Dawn French. It was a silver piece made up of entwined legs “bums and fronts”, from afar it looked like a silver lace collar but as people came closer they were often surprised to see what it actually was.
A journalist friend of mine wore it when she met Nelson Mandela and she said he was also intrigued by it.”
Many of Kim’s pieces are one of a kind, due to the stones or materials used, and special favourites of hers are those she makes from the keys of an old piano she inherited.
“My late Uncle George Parker was very supportive of me early in my career and paid for all my basic tools when I started my apprenticeship. I still use them today.
“I inherited his piano which was a decrepit, old thing, long passed its playing days. He was a hoarder and had an antique shop called, ‘Occasional Antiques’ which he opened only occasionally when he felt like it.
“I stripped the ebony keys and the ivory-like veneer off the piano and turned
them into pieces for an exhibition in my home town of Gisborne called, ‘Where has all the music gone’. “
Kim’s ivory ballerina silhouettes and ebony treble cleft earrings, geometrically carved pendants,as well as other earring and necklaces sold out within days causing a panicked flurry of work over a weekend so that the cabinets wouldn’t stand empty.
“There was something quite cyclical about the whole thing. Here I was making a tribute to my late dear uncle, using the very tools he gave me at the beginning of my career to create something 30 years later out of one of the last things he gave me, an old piano.”
Also unique to Kim is her weather map jewellery which has grown into its own niche business.
“I have made weather maps with gliders for gliding enthusiasts in New Zealand and Australia, weather maps of the Chatham Islands for the locals, weather maps highlighting different parts of the coastline as 21st presents, weather maps showing the surf is up or the snow is on its way. Many have gone with travellers on their O.Es or have been sent to expats abroad.”
But Kim says the work she loves doing most is remodelling old jewellery, turning pieces that clients have long outgrown into something they would love to wear again.
“I have a lot of clients who have inherited jewellery or no longer love the bits and pieces they used to wear, yet these pieces still hold incredible sentimental value. Together we create a whole new piece. It’s very satisfying seeing them with jewellery that will again be worn with love, not sitting in boxes or a dark drawer somewhere.”
Most of Kim’s work is private commissions but she has a small selection of silver work for sale at the Steel Mill Gallery in Pukekohe and also supplies galleries in Gisborne and Hawkes Bay.
By ANGELA KEMP