Creative journey - from scrap yard to jewellery

Why does a jewellery artist pick up a piece of rusty iron, an old shard, or a weathered piece of wood?

Petra Rink as gold­smith master artis­an has mastered many facets of jew­ellery making. When she finds a spe­cial piece of waste, she embarks on an excit­ing cre­at­ive jour­ney lead­ing into her per­son­al jew­ellery boxes

'Waste' such as a rusty piece of iron, a piece of por­cel­ain, a weathered wood, bent wires or a stone from the beach, parts of her work draw­ings, col­our­fully painted acryl glass shapes or finely sawn and gilded metal ele­ments. They are arranged, assembled, glued, and soldered by Petra until they become an excep­tion­al piece of jew­ellery in a small case.

“Often, I have a story in my mind that I want to express with the arrange­ment of my found and spe­cial designed ele­ments. I have to look through my col­lec­tion and touch the ‘waste’ pieces a few times until I know – this is the right object that fits my story.”

Why is a goldsmith giving a workshop at a Craft College in Tunisia?

In May 2006, 2007, and 2008 Petra teaches at the "Centre Arts Du Feu" in Nabeul and at the "Centre De Bijouter­ie" in Tunis. Her stu­dents are part of the ceram­ics, jew­ellery, and glass classes. The pro­ject is fin­anced by the offi­cial German Agency for Tech­nic­al Cooper­a­tion GTZ.

"The GTZ dir­ect­or at the time was impressed by my cre­at­ive approach to explore mater­i­als.  He saw my art­work at one of my exhib­i­tions in Stol­berg and we star­ted to talk about my jew­ellery boxes. It was nice that my family trav­elled with me. After teach­ing we – espe­cially my sons - would enjoy the beach and the sea­side. And I of course found inter­est­ing ‘waste’ pieces."

 “At the begin­ning of the work­shop the stu­dents were a bit over­whelmed with the new idea of using mater­i­als in a play­ful way. I found the weathered broken wood board on the school beach and spon­tan­eously used it to cap­ture my impres­sion of Tunisia in this assemblage. That explained the cre­at­ive way of the pro­cess to them. After that, they star­ted their own excit­ing jour­ney.”

“Back in Ger­many I used some found objects for my spe­cial Jewel box series: 'Fish and Ships', inspired by my impres­sions on the beach of Tunisia.”

The first steps towards becoming a jewellery artist.

Petra com­pletes her 3-year appren­tice­ship to become a gold­smith with her father, a master gold­smith who works for a high-end jew­ellery com­pany in Düs­sel­dorf. He still worked entirely in the tra­di­tion and abso­lute per­fec­tion of the craft. A great way to start off but it is import­ant for Petra to con­tin­ue her edu­ca­tion and dis­cov­er new areas and pos­sib­il­it­ies of her pro­fes­sion.

Petra applies for her master crafts­wo­man train­ing at the renowned Crafts Col­lege in Hanau as well as start­ing her jew­ellery design stud­ies there.  The teach­ers give the stu­dents an excit­ing insight into art, design, and archi­tec­ture. Through Franz Bette, she becomes acquain­ted with the kin­et­ic jew­ellery works of Friedrich Becker. The stu­dents exper­i­ment with unusu­al mater­i­als during their class of sculp­tur­al stud­ies which leads to many excit­ing dis­cus­sions among the stu­dents - not only at school.

Alone in a workshop?  How to have fruitful discussion with other creatives?

After her stud­ies in Hanau, Petra applies for the ‘arts and craft’ pro­gram of a small German town. The city admin­is­tra­tion wants to revive the old work­shop quarter below the medi­ev­al castle offer­ing stu­di­os and flats to selec­ted artists. From 1993-2008 she lives and works there as an inde­pend­ent artist. She becomes a member of the 'Forum for Jew­ellery and Design' in Cologne. The asso­ci­ation ini­ti­ates reg­u­lar group exhib­i­tions, offers work­shops, art trips and much more. The exchange with other mem­bers, the tips and inform­a­tion are import­ant for her work as a self-employed artist.

In the Corona Lock­down times, she learns about grants and sub­sidies that help her fin­an­cially to bridge the dif­fi­cult time without direct con­tact to her cli­ents.

Since 2008, she has her work­shop and gal­lery in a small coun­tryside vil­lage near the city of Aachen. Here she ini­ti­ates reg­u­lar exhib­i­tion where she invites other artists and crafts­wo­men, shar­ing a cre­at­ive theme.

“Last year our theme was '3 Col­ours Green'. Won­der­ful nat­ur­al shades of green lit up my gal­lery – seen in the work of a graph­ic designer& paint­er, a tex­tile artist, and within my jew­eller­ies & ‘jewel boxes.”

The next group exhib­i­tion will be in Decem­ber 2022 - this time in Aachen. That's where Petra will soon be living and work­ing.

What inspires you - apart from your goldsmith work?

“I am very much inspired by the ‘Decon­struct­ive’ archi­tec­ture style since  I vis­ited the Vitra Museum by Frank Gehry in the early 90s. The dynam­ics of irreg­u­lar shapes and pro­por­tions, unusu­al insights and views are excit­ing sources of inspir­a­tion for me. Since that time, this archi­tec­tur­al style has accom­pan­ied me. At the begin­ning of 2020, I vis­ited Zaha Hadid's Har­bour House in Ant­werp and was thrilled. The next Zaha Hadid build­ing I will explore is the Maxxi Museum in Rome with the spe­cial exhib­i­tion 'Good News _ Women in Archi­tec­ture'."

What do you like to achieve in the next years?

“I would like to live and work in Eng­land or Amer­ica for some time. So that I get to know the coun­try and the people on a reg­u­lar daily life sched­ule – not just as a vaca­tion­er. I love to get an insight into their kind of crafts­man­ship on site and to exchange ideas with local artists. I want to try out some­thing new that I haven't done before. I am sure that I will find some spe­cial ‘waste’ pieces there too!”

Like this river pearl mussel, which exis­ted every­where in Europe and is now threatened with extinc­tion. Very few pearl mus­sels are left in a little stream close to Petra’s house – due to pol­luted waters even in the coun­tryside. Petra’s jewel pieces make us aware of the beauty and unique­ness as well as the dis­ap­pear­ance.

Name: Petra Rink

She is:

A master gold­smith and a jew­ellery artist

She likes:

early in the morn­ing to have a cup of coffe on her own, France and the Museum­s­is­land Hom­broi­ch, Neuss, Ger­many

She admires:

Women in gen­er­al who go their own way undeterred: self-con­fid­ent, curi­ous and with a sense of humour

Her WIASOLA tip:

"Seek the exchange with other cre­at­ives and enjoy the enrich­ment!"

Her 5 favour­ite music tips:

  • Fat Freddys Drop - from New Zea­l­and
  • Habib Koité - from Mali
  • ZAZ - from France
  • Pongo - from Angola/Portugal
  • Radio Cosmo - a german multi cul­tur­al radio sta­tion with the 50/50 oblig­a­tion to play music from female artists

To be found under:


Museum Insel Hom­broi­ch. Neuss, Ger­many

Maxxi Museum in Rome, Italy

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