Lucky enough to be able to talk to Goia whose work is available at Salt & Sea and various artisan markets around Malta.
Full transcript of the interview is below:
Monique : So welcome to Dream Jobs with me Monique Chambers and my guest this week is Goia Clavenzani.
Now, that’s a really unusual name. [Laughs] I’ve never heard that before. You are Italian.
Goia : Yes. I’m Italian. And my name means happiness.
Monique : Oh, that’s really nice. Clavenzani.
Goia : Yeah
Monique : Is it actually an Italian word or it’s a general term ?
Goia : Well, Goia is an Italian word. And usually when I was a kid everybody asked me; but what’s your real name?
Monique : Because it’s like an affectionate term. People say Goia Goia all the time. Don’t they ?
Goia : Yes.
Monique : I really like it. I think it’s lovely. So you live in Malta though? Goia : Yeah.
Monique : How long have you been in Malta?
Goia : Almost three years.
Monique : Okay so not a newbie newbie.
Goia : No. [Laughs] Monique : And where are you from in Italy ?
Goia : I was born in Rome and then I moved to Central Italy, between Umbria and Tuscany. Monique : Very pretty.
Goia : Gorgeous area yes.
Monique : And what did you do there? What was your profession while you lived in Italy? Goia : I was a psychologist and psychotherapist.
Monique : Ooh okay. [Laughs] Goia : Don’t worry. [Laughs] Monique : Yeah I’m interviewing you, Okay? That’s the way around it works here. [Laughs] So Psychology, that’s quite an intense subject.
Goia : Yes. I really loved my job there but when I was younger at high school I studied Art. Then at the end of high school, I thought it would have been really difficult to work in that field because initially there wasn’t a time and much space for that. And so I decided to go to university and being a psychologist and a psychotherapist.
Monique : And you use that today because now actually you have what most people would think is a dream job you actually design jewellery.
Goia : Yeah well I still use it a little with my few clients in Italy who might buy time from time to time like make a call or online consultation but just for that and now I think I use it for jewellery as well.
Monique : How is that is it the knowing what people need, does the translation of that comes out in your designs?
Goia : Not exactly. I think that I use my experience in deepening issues of any kind to elaborate concepts behind jewellery.
Monique : Okay, so tell us a bit more about your jewellery. When did you actually make the switch? Did you become a jewele when you came to Malta? Was it a life changing switch on switch off ?
Goia : No it was gradual. I lived in the country in Italy and I then moved in small village close to my former home. And just by things that happen in life, I found myself being part of very small partnership of jewellery makers and I had to take care of that thing. And in some way I thought it was like a circle closing because the idea of working in the art field has always been in my background for years. So then I maintained part of my work, my private studio and gradually left other works outside like in schools.
Monique : Okay, so used to teach as well, the jewellery aspect or the psychology aspect ? Goia : No no I used to work as a psychologist in schools as well.
Monique : Okay. Well that must have been quite challenging. Heartbreaking actually. Thankfully you found jewellery. [Laughs] So it is a gradual switch but by the time then you came to Malta you’re pretty much full time on the jewelry.
Goia : Yes, it’s quite difficult to begin again two jobs and I switched towards jewellery because I really loved it.
Monique : So how did you start making jewelry from being an artist? How did you know that jewelry making was a thing and the thing for you?
Goia : Well, I’ve always liked making things of course practically and I discovered I personally didn’t like much conventional jewellery. I appreciate the work which is behind high jewellery, there are so many great names and great artists also in high jewelry but there is an area which is overlapping where a jewelry and contemporary art overlaps and I found that area. Of course the challenging thing is to match this with something people like.
Monique : And they are going to buy.
Goia : Yeah. [Laughs] Monique : Because I like a lot of jewelry but in reality, I saw a piece the other day I was in Sicily and it was the price of a house and it was costume jewelry. Oh my goodness you can buy a house for that money it’s beautiful absolutely beautiful. But you know, you have to be able to make something that can actually sell and that’s quite something.
Goia : It was challenging but very interesting to find the balance between the two aspects, being able to create something I liked and elaborate something which could sell as well and which people could use because I work with my partner. And we have always thought that beauty at least what we think is beauty and art should be affordable.
Monique : Yes, absolutely. Because then people can use it more and more. And they’re almost your advertising vehicle at the same time, because you can’t help it when somebody has a nice piece of jewelry tell them. So yeah, it needs to be able to be worn. You don’t want to keep something locked away because it’s so precious that you can’t wear it.
Goia : Yeah, definitely.
Monique : So what sort of materials do you use in your work ?
Goia : Well, we mainly use silver because of course it’s more affordable. And as a less expensive metal with respect to gold, you can use a bigger amount for a piece. And so you can have more space for creating.
Monique : And silver goes with everything actually whereas gold doesn’t . You see silver can look stunning against black or white or you know reds, greens, whereas gold can sometimes not quite work, it can draw out a bit. So what’s your typical day had to have a dream? What do you do when do you wake up?
Goia : We have our workshop at home lucky enough. And well we wake up, have breakfast, try not to lose much time doing things around.
[Laughs] Monique : Yeah that’s a distraction when you work from home you don’t quite get to real thing.
Goia : Yes and we go upstairs to our workshop, well it helps keeping us healthy because we have the dirty part of the workshop in garage which is downstairs and three stairs up in the laundry there is the creative part of the work.
Monique : Do you have one of those lovely Maltese spiral staircases ? Goia : Unluckily not.
Monique : Ah okay. [Laughs]
Because I lost two stone when I moved to Malta running up and down because my kitchen was on the top floor and my office was on the ground floor and I was running up and down all day for a cup of tea or something.
Goia : Yeah we also do that but luckily it’s not that kind of stairs otherwise I don’t know how would we manage to put the furniture.
Monique : So you said you have two workshops; you have a clean workshop and a dirty workshop. So what do you do? So you go upstairs first?
Goia : Yes, upstairs. We have our benches. Jewelry benches are not normal desks, they have different levels and they are created for the kind of work we do and we also have a desk there. We draw jewelry there and usually we have pieces we have to finish. And so we practically work part of the day on that. The dirty workshop is for melting and making moulds. So fire and heavy heavy duty working is done there.
Monique : So do you go into the dirty workshop everyday or is it like wn a Friday we do all our melting and moulding or whatever.
Goia : It depends on what we have to do. I mean if we need some silver, we go down and we try to melt a good amount of it and prepare slabs and ingots from which we work.
Monique : How cool. So you’ve got like a safe with all silver in it must be really like I’m imagining almost like a movie where this gigantic safes you know where they have the wheel.
[Laughs] Goia : No. [Laughs] Monique : Oh you just broke my heart. [Laughs] So between sort of finishing off whack then you would go all the way back downstairs you stop for lunch and you make lunch at home or do you make a point to go out for lunch?
Goia : No we usually have lunch at home maybe have a nap. Monique : You’re so Italian.
Goia : Yeah.
Monique : So do you go to the beach in the winter as well? Or is it more of a summer thing?
Goia : It’s a summer thing.
Monique : So you have half the year, so it’s okay. So you can nap in the winter and nap on the beach. No ? Multitask ?
Goia : No. [Laughs] Monique : Come on, do the multitask. [Laughs] So do you finish work at a particular time or you just finish when it’s gone ?
Goia : We should finish at a particular time but in general, we finish when it’s gone.
Monique : So just keep going and going.
Goia : Yeah, and this is not a healthy thing because even if you work from home, I think you should define the working time from the personal and family time.
Monique : That’s true actually. I sort of switch off about half a six, lights off, computer no longer follows me into the house it stays in the office, okay, you’ve got your phone and your iPad, whatever. But then it’s go next door. Get ready to go out or cook or whatever but yeah I think it’s really important to have a cut off otherwise at home you’re at work so yeah it’s the lots of good things about working from home but a couple of bad ones as well that it never leaves you. But you have these two separate areas so you have to climb to the top of the stairs.
Goia : Yeah well my partner mainly takes care of the creative part. I either create or take care of emails, online shop, contacts with shops and so on. So there is a third area which is inside the house and that is the worst thing because as you told me, you’re saying computer follows you everywhere.
Monique : Yes I really made a concerted effort since we moved our office into the house, it stays on my desk. That’s it. There’s no couch surfing on my couch that goes with my iPad. And that’s just the shopping because otherwise an email pops in, you start to look and you never stop working.
Goia : Definitely.
Monique : And you have to.
And so you’re saying about doing sales and things like that. Where do you actually sell your jewellery?
Goia : Well, we have a couple of shops in Italy we sell online and we have our tools, some of our pieces in Valletta temporary.
Monique : Fantastic. okay. I can go and see them in real life. Yeah, because Etsy I love it. But you can spend a day trying to find something on there because you get so overwhelmed with the talent that’s out there that unless you really know what you’re looking for, it’s such a big marketplace, so you have to really hone in and your brand is called JAD. Does that stand for something ?
Goia : Jewellery Art Design.
Monique : Okay and it’s probably the same in Italian as well is it ? No it woud be a G yes and
this is definitely the J. Okay. So if people search for you on Etsy ? Goia : JAD jewellery.
Monique : And on Facebook the same ?
Goia : Yeah JAD jewellery. It’s American. [Laughs] Monique : So the types of things you make; because you are wearing a beautiful choker that obviously nobody can see. But is there something that you’ve made yourself as well?
Goia : Yes.
Monique : Ah, so very modern, very sheek, but you could wear it with a little black dress.
Goia : Yeah, you can dress up.
Monique : Because I have a rule if I can wear it with a white shirt because my uniform is normally white shirt, jeans, white shirt, trousers, white shirt, white trousers.
[Laughs] So if I can wear it with a white shirt, I’m like I have to have that too. [Laughs] Like I said before, I don’t like keeping things for best. Do you do bracelets and rings?
Goia : We do almost everything .
Monique : Okay do you do men’s jewellery as well or is it purely for women ?
Goia : Yes we do men’s jewellery and there is a special area we developed in the last couple of years where we use very thin silver wire which is used for the Maltese filigree but it’s a sort of netted, becomes a sort of textile.
Monique : Wow okay.
Goia : You can build different shapes and different shapes from what you make with the
Monique : So a bracelet would be more comfortable I suppose or a necklace or something like this ?
Goia : It’s not as soft but it’s flexible and very light. We also use silver plated copper wires which are colored with a kind of lacquer to make more easy jewels.
Monique : Okay, so bit more contemporary, a bit more thing you can just wear for fun. Goia : Yeah.
Monique : Okay. That sounds really good. I’m going to be putting a link to JAD jewellery Facebook page from here so listeners can actually see the work because that’s one of the frustrating things.
Tell us is there something about the job that you don’t like though, that you would want to warn somebody who was fantasizing that work or was doodling about being a jewellery designer? Is there something that you think Watch out for this part of it?
Goia : Well, I think this is something like every kind of artistic work. You have to understand that there’s a reality outside here. If this is your job you have to work you have to eat [Laughs] not too much but you have to maybe you have a family so just creating because you love creating beautiful, gorgeous but you have clients outside there and you have to meet their desire and to find a way of doing what you like but that can be used.
Monique : That’s it. Sometimes I guess you have to compromise you might like something but in reality it’s not going to sell because it looks better on paper but it would be feel uncomfortable or cumbersome or something. You’re not making for you have to remember you’re making for other people.
Goia : Ofcourse and also you need some small management tools because you have to decide the cost of jewel. There are so many beautiful stones you could use but they have an expense. So you have to think who will buy that and take that in mind. I would advise anybody who would like to do this job to think of this part of the work.
Monique : So the actual costs of the materials, your customers’ spending power, identifying who your customer is still the key even when you are jewellery making.
Goia : Definitely.
Monique : Okay, and when did you realize it was the time to take the leap from your sort of proper job of being a psychologist. Was it was it just like no, I can’t take any more heartache or was it the pull of being a jewellery maker that was stronger than the other ?
Goia : Well when we moved here in Malta Monique : It was perfect opportunity
Goia : Yeah perfect opportunity. I don’t know if I would have stopped completely my other job in Italy because I also like it
Monique : You could do it here in reality or are there qualifications you have to transfer ? Goia : I have to transfer the qualifications so I will definitely.
Monique : Because it’s always useful skill to have.
Goia : [Laughs] Yeah but I think it will take me some time so it’s not so urgent now. Monique : So you will you’ve never regretted leaving their psychology behind so far ? Goia : No.
Monique : Fantastic. And is there anything else you would want to tell budding jewelry designer? So is there days when you’re fed up if you make the same thing over and over and over again? How do you get past the bit where it just hurts? How do you motivate when you haven’t got a bunch of people around you, it’s you and your partner and you need to keep going with that piece. That’s a pain to make or it’s just boring. It’s not what you would want to wear. How do you motivate yourself as a small company?
Goia : Well, usually when something is not coming, I mean you try and try and you melt a small part and you make an error and it doesn’t work. You have to stop for a while because you get nervous and it’s impossible to be so accurate if you are excited. We keep going because we always go in the future ; we always think of the future so we always project lines of jewellery, small differences and big differences and it’s beautiful to experiment.
Monique : Because my problem is I make clothes but just as a hobby, but I always want to keep them for myself unless I’m making something as a present for somebody which is more of there thing. I just don’t want to get rid of anything.
Goia : There are some jewels. I’m really sad I have to say. [Laughs] Monique : I love that. I know it’s not just me.
Goia : We also make unique pieces. There are some special techniques with which you can obtain the same object, you can obtain the same style. Okay. I mean, there is a technique we use in which the silver slabs are in some way ripped in small pieces, small stripes. We can’t have the same shapes.
Monique : Every single one would be different okay.
Goia : Yes and so you can build a piece with those stripes.
Monique : Yes I’m trying to imagine
Goia : It will never be the same and I remember bracelet a beautiful cuff with different layers of metals and different colors, dark ones, shiny ones, dull colors sold it and I was so sad.
[Laughs] Monique : Maybe you should engrave on the inside of those pieces you know if you ever get fed up of me please return to the maker.
[Laughs] Goia : Yeah and I also remember another piece which was a pendant a composition of different pieces of silver, different shapes and texture sof the surfaces which my partner made it and it was really, really special. Then a lady bought it and it was very nice on her. I was sad of selling but we did. And three months later she came and she said; Well, thieves were in my house and it’s gone. Can you please make one like that? And luckily we had pictures and we managed to make something similar to that.
Monique : So do you normally make what you want rather than somebody comes in and says, I want this kind of piece?
Goia : Both. So we also work with private clients coming to our workshop and we create something for them.
Monique : Ah, sounds like you have such a range I think at I’d be a child in a candy shop sort of which one do you start with.
And these techniques you are saying the shaving the knitting, don’t even know those things are possible. So I’m myself going to have a look at your Facebook page so JAD jewellery
Goia : Yes JAD jewellery. Jewellery Art Design
Monique : Fantastic. It has been really lovely talking to you Goia. That’s Goia Clavenzani, JAD Jewellery. Thank you very much.
Goia : Thank you.