Jewellery designer Brumby Ramsay (better known as utBwB) might just be my best kept secret, though not for long. Based in Christchurch, NZ, Brumby has been designing and producing gorgeous leather jewellery and accessories for the better part of a year whilst working full time, looking after her bouncy boxer pup, Cohen, and generally being a good egg.
Brumby moved to Christchurch from Auckland just weeks before the September 2010 earthquake and while many might have put their bags back in the car and turned around she stuck it out and got stuck in to shifting liquefaction, helping neighbours and putting her heart and soul in to rebuilding Christchurch. Throughout a hard year, spent largely in gum boots, Brumby still managed to realise her passion for working with fashion and put simply, it’s gorgeous.
The chevron collection is absolutely my favourite. I love the tough connotations of leather, combined with the military overtones and sophisticated, ‘grown up’ pastel tones. The colour choices and tactile quality of the leather lend the motifs a softness and femininity (kick ass femininity) that makes for a winning combination. It’s hard to capture just how delicious they are, I borrowed a selection to photograph and the texture is just incredible. Buttery soft hides combined with suede, smooth with pebbled leathers – all combinations are perfection, although, watch out for people grabbing your earrings, it will hurt. Each piece is hand made and carefully crafted with care and attention.
Earrings are $75, brooches $45, necklaces range from $75 – $95 and all would make amazing and special gifts for someone with impeccable taste. Shipping is free within Australasia.
I’ve probably gushed enough now, so I asked Brumby, (who has just taken UtBwB fulltime -yay) a couple of questions about her work.
What inspires you to work in leather?
It is a little unconventional for jewellery I suppose, which is appealing to me; I’ve never really being one to use ‘standard’ materials – even my ball dress was a lovely lilac faux fur. I love using what is typically thought of as a utilitarian material to create an ethereal piece of jewellery.
What do you like about working with leather?
Oh so many things, the two main stand outs though are the smell and the tactility of it.
When I walk into my studio and smell leather it takes me back to my childhood – horse riding on the farm, the smell of saddles, and hay and horse sweat; someone should really make an oil diffuser that smells like that, I’d buy it!
I am a very tactile person, it never ceases to amaze me just how wide the spectrum is with leather, from the super thick ‘need a chainsaw to cut them’ hides, through the skins like those in my Kaleidoscope collection which are so supple they could rival silk in their softness.
What inspired your chevron collection and colour choices?
The Chevron collection was inspired by both history and fashion. The Chevron symbol has been around for eons, used on heraldry, to denote rank in military colours, and featuring in fashion trends through every decade since 1950. So whilst it is currently going through a resurgence of popularity, it’s never really been, or likely to be ‘out’. I have a few classic shades in the collection (liquorice, toffee and ice cream), but do also look to the current trends and incorporate these as well by way of pastel tones such as peppermint slice, peach parfait.
For me today? A cup of lapsang souchong tea and a crumpet drowned in butter. For UtBwB? Releasing the next collection (Badge of Honour) and expanding the current collections to include accessories as well as the jewellery. My next collection is an experiment with new materials; it is inspired by the Big Brothers Big Sisters programme (http://www.bigbrothersbigsisters.org.nz/) for whom I recently signed up with to become a Big Sister me
ntor. Plus I have a sketch book full of ideas that are not necessarily suited to entire collections, but would be grand as one off pieces, so I might give that a go later in the year…