Hendrike Barz-Meltzer is a British, German-born designer & maker in Hertfordshire working with various materials, including precious & non-precious metals and silk.
Born and grown up in East Germany these experiences shaped her character and work. What permeates the many strands in her life is a curiosity about a diverse range of subjects. It is a desire to understand how things work. History, for example - being an important aspect to her - is to know how humanity got to this point in time and the subject of human rights is to understand where it went wrong. These two subjects add a much-valued counterpoint to her creative work.
However, her main area of interest is the vast field of making - anything - a cake, a ring, a tool or a pair of slippers. It has fascinated her since childhood – then an ever-present necessity brought about by the shortages of the East German economy - it provides for her today a sense of satisfaction when demystifying another subject or technique thus far unknown.
Being able to ‘make’ is central to her – the knowing & understanding of how things are made is empowering and fuels a great sense of independence. This also entails a deep respect for traditional craftsmen/women and their knowledge, often accumulated over a life-time or generations.
Discovering a new technique is an exciting moment to her. Usually attempting to understand its principles until accomplishing it, she always tries to imagine how it can be incorporated into her pieces, why it fascinates her and what dimension it may add to her work.
Trying to analyse the roots of that certain aesthetics in her work, she often remembers how a tutor at St Martins once commented how ‘German’ her work was. It surprised and puzzled her then, as it still does today. Whilst her heritage is German, Hendrike is often drawn to Japanese aesthetics and strives for well-designed pieces, mostly abstract, with an element of the unexpected: the off-centre, the unequal, non-matching and the odd.
The pieces are outcomes of different approaches. It can be a design process: of lines or shapes drawn on paper, then transferred onto the human body, altered and later translated into materials. Paper or metal models frequently serve here as design aids. But it can also be a play with a finished silk braid, draped around a mannequin and imagining what additions it may need. Working with the human body though, is an essential part of both processes and the pieces fully come to life when actually worn.
Her current work combines Japanese Kumihimo silk braids with precious metal parts. Hendrike braids the silk cords 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 an ancient, labour-intensive technique whereby differently shaped and sized cords can be created. Its Japanese origins date back as far as 10000 years and it has evolved to become a highly complex craft.
Hendrike usually limits the colours in her braids to bring out the contrast and focus the eye on the changing nature of the patterns. These 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 metal parts in her pieces are textured to add further subtlety and tactility to the piece. Hendrike employs different metal working techniques to accentuate a piece, for example metal folding, Keum-Boo or fusing and is always exploring new techniques. (For more information click the section Techniques).
2018: part-time jewellery tutor at Made in Herts Studios
2015 - present: self-employed business of jewellery design & making, exhibiting regularly in different shows & galleries (see Exhibtions/Events)
2013: return to making
1998-present: part-time employment with the Breslaff Centre
1996-2002: Employment with jewellery designer Barbara Christie, Design & Making
2004: MA Understanding & Securing Human Rights
2000: MA Modern History
1997: BA (Hons) Jewellery Design, Central St Martins College of Art & Design (First Class Honours)
1996, First Prize in the Goldsmith’ Craft Council Craftsmanship & Design Awards, Junior Section
1996, 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
1994: BTEC National Diploma in Art & Design, Huddersfield
Membership in Organisations / Professional Bodies
All photography: Hendrike Barz Meltzer
A very special thank you to my beautiful sister for being a patient model. Please check out her website too. She is such a talented singer. www.andrabarz.com