Hendrike Barz-Meltzer (1974) is a British German-born jewellery designer who is based in St Albans, Hertfordshire, England.

Her current work combines Japanese Kumihimo silk braids with silver. The braiding is done by Hendrike in her studio using silk, a Marudai - the Japanese braiding loom - and between 16 to 24 Tama, the bobbins onto which the silk threads are wound. Kumihimo is a labour-intensive technique and the changing patterns within the braids are created by the repetitive (or changing) movement of the Tama around the Marudai in a number of sequences of moves. This process requires constant attention to the position and movement of the Tama and their relation to the progression of the pattern.

The silver is usually textured to add further subtlety and tactility to the piece. Most recently Hendrike has been experimenting with folding techniques, attempting a translation of certain origami techniques into metal, creating waving 3D shapes, used in combination with the silk braids.

Hendrike often has a preference for the abstract, the simplicity of the line, drawn quickly on paper and then translated into materials. Her fascination lies in this design process, the pursuance of an ‘idea’ and the satisfaction when its interpretation into tangible materials has been successfully achieved.

Each piece is the outcome of a lengthy design process - utilising numerous paper models, drawings and experiments. The pieces are designed ‘on the body’, i.e. with the body of the wearer in mind, often therefore showing their greatest effect when worn, making the body become part of the piece.

Each piece is a one-off and a repetition of a particular piece would never be quite be identical to the original. This applies in particular to the Kumihimo silk braids, as the designs emerge through a process of continuing invention in search of new patterns and variations.

Hendrike was born into a family where crafts and ‘making’ was very important and always present. This imbued her with a deep appreciation for the crafts and the design-and-making process. The house by the forest and the fields where she grew up instilled a great love of nature in her and is often a source of comfort or inspiration in her work.

Witnessing the  1989 changes, she used the freedoms to travel to England, and embarked on a career in Art & Design with a jewellery degree at Central St Martins.

Hendrike completed this course with first class honours and a number of awards: 1996 (February) - First Prize in the Goldsmith’ Craft Council Craftsmanship & Design Awards, Junior Section;    1996 (August) - Winner of the Goldsmith’ Craft Council Bursary Award; 1997 - Winner of the Brian Wood Memorial Fund Travelling Scholarship; 1997 - Encouragement Prize in the 1997, JNWS International Jewellery Design Competition, Japan.

At CSM Hendrike met Barbara Christie as a tutor and started to work with her on a part-time basis from 1996 to 2002. 

Becoming more conscious of the historical complexities of her own background and influenced by her interest in history and the ‘human condition’, Hendrike took up some free-lance work as a historical researcher (on projects concerning the two World Wars and the Holocaust specifically) and which also led to her working for a London-based family centre and the completion of two Master degrees in Modern History and International Human Rights respectively. For some years these areas formed the paramount focus in her life. 

Following the birth of her two children, the focus shifted once more and she felt a deep desire to return to creativity and a life of ‘making’, which she began again in 2011.

Hendrike's studio and various sketches for some of the pieces pictured in this collection. (HBM ©2014)