Interview with Olivia Owens of I Am WoRm

We are very delighted to announce the arrival of locally made jewellery designs from I Am WoRm. To celebrate the beautifully intricate pieces from her Resist/Surrender collection into store, we chatted to I Am WoRm creator, Olivia Owens…


- When did you start making jewellery and what was the motivation for doing so?

I was about six years old, on holiday with my family in Ireland and we went into a beading shop. The woman in the store showed us how to bend a piece of wire with beads on it into earrings. I was totally captivated at how easy it seemed and how fun. Getting back to Auckland, I trawled out all my mum's hippy supplies and set to work whilst everyone else crashed out jet lagged. Ever since that point I have been making some kind of jewellery, it wasn't until my last year of high school that I first learnt to solder and work with silver, gold, brass and other metals.


- Tell us about your current collections that are in store at Tessuti. What were some of the inspirations for these pieces?

These pieces are off the back the latest collection, Resist/Surrender which was a sort of on-going evolution of the motifs of shields, chains and animals. I love the 'objectness' of jewellery, I like it to feel solid, dependable, have a weight and tactileness to it. All of these influences are with me when I am working on designs, I like my pieces to serve as touchstones and objects as much as adornment.

- What kind of girl/woman is the 'I Am Worm' jewellery wearer?

Whoever she decides to be. The wearers of I Am WoRm bring the designs to life, each in their own unique way. I would never want to preclude anyone from wearing I Am WoRm.

- Tell us a bit about your workshop space.

It's like coming home, it moved house three times last year but each time I set it up the same. I feel so intune when I'm in the studio: my hands find the tools before my brain can even work out what I'm looking for. I'm currently working in a large, sunny breezy space in Ponsonby.

- Any artists/designers who work you admire? Where do you draw your inspiration for ideas from?

I love Warwick Freeman as a jeweller. He has a gift that I see as rare, turning jewellery into an articulate form of communication. His work says things that words can't. I draw inspiration from reading, writing, walking, conversations, movies, leaves, industrial metal, dirty noisy city spaces, the list goes on. I like to look at something until it becomes unfamiliar and then respond to that new understanding.

- I notice you work with many different materials. Do you have a favourite and why?

I Am WoRm has a focus on using Sterling Silver, Brass and a touch of Gold. These materials are long-lasting, maintain their shine and will not break: they offer the duality of being able to last forever yet on the other hand they can be easily recycled and at any point. These qualities of metal are core to the vision of I Am WoRm pieces having a sustainable potential. I would like to think I Am WoRm pieces can go on to become heirlooms but they will never burden their wearers either. Silver remains my favourite metal to work with; it's soft at the same time as being hard, it's forgiving and sometimes I almost feel that I can bargain with it to do what I want it to do. And it looks so good shiny!!

- Favourite place to eat out in Auckland?

Raw Power Cafe in Vulcan Lane. The woman who works there is so lovely, the big open windows make it cool in summer and the perfect place to look out on the world in winter. Also, scrambled tofu; I don't know why it isn't on every cafe's menu.

- Favourite dish to cook friends?

Buckwheat Pancakes! I always suggest making them and people always pull the same face, 'ewe.' But I have won-over everyone I have made them for. Especially good with nutella or peanut butter (or both).

- Best place to be on a Sunday?

1) Under the covers only if it's raining outside

2) Bringing I Am WoRm to the people at the Golden Dawn's Gypsy Fairs

3) Getting into the car with my best friend and deciding where we are going by choosing which street to take when we come to them. Have had some great adventures doing this, also some pretty uneventful sundays driving around in circles.


A selection of I Am WoRm pieces are now available in store at Tessuti. Be quick!

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