Three Generations Living with Passion – by Hannah Forsdike
Just this year, Don’s sculpture The Wood Spirit won first place in the Wootha Prize at the Maleny Wood Expo. Don’s sculptures are often inspired by fantastical literature; he has many carvings inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. One of his favourite creations is a scene from The Lord of the Rings that he carved with the Tolkien family’s consent before the movie adaptations were released.
Although he specialises in faces and figures, he also enjoys carving animals and nature. His sculptures are often made up of several different kinds of wood to create texture and colour. He sometimes includes inlays of gold and silver in his work.
Don has taught woodcarving classes and masterclasses to many students at his home workshop and overseas; however, the person he seems to have most inspired is his daughter, Shari, who has applied his craft and techniques to her own work as a jeweller. A few years ago Shari and her family moved to Maleny to be closer to her parents; she has since fallen in love with the community, lifestyle, and creative inspiration the hinterland has to offer.
Shari designs and creates unique fine jewellery, specialising in sculpted jewellery inspired by her father. While managing and designing for a bridal designer in Brisbane, Shari recognised a gap in the industry for bridal jewellery. She took private lessons from a goldsmith school to learn the skills required to create her designs. The designs were so successful she decided to leave her job and start her first business, wholesaling her jewellery Australia wide. After selling her designs through 50 outlets, she opened her first shop. It was around this time she began taking lessons from her father, Don.
‘His sculptures were imaginative, brilliantly executed, and a great deal of fun to do,’ Shari said. ‘This influenced me a great deal in my work of creating and selling “one of a kind” jewellery. To this day I still like to create jewellery that is unique, something you can’t buy anywhere else, using methods taught by my father.’
Shari also draws inspiration from nature, history, people, and other artists.
‘It all matters and affects my work,’ said Shari. ‘Sometimes it affects it so much that the work seems to have a life of its own.’
Shari says that growing up in a creative family has allowed her to believe that any dream is possible. This sentiment was echoed by her husband, Roy, who she says has supported, encouraged and believed in her since the day they met. In recent years, Shari has been able to share her passion for creating jewellery that tells a story and brings joy to the wearer, with her 17 year old son, Donald, now in the second year of his apprenticeship to his mother.
‘I have always been around the jewellery craft,’ said Donald, ‘but over the past five years my interest has grown.’
Donald likes to define his style as a mixture of old and new, drawing inspiration from history and applying modern techniques. Having had the opportunity to travel and meet famous jewellery designers throughout his life, he has always been surrounded by inspiration. However, it is his creative family that inspires him the most, particularly his mother and grandfather, both of whom have been teaching him their skills.
Shari and Donald are now partners in The Jewellers Bench in Maleny. Shari heard about an opportunity to rent one of the cabins on Maple Street. This is how The Jewellers Bench was born; Shari and Donald set up shop selling their jewellery. They now rent two of the cabins, one workshop and one showroom. Always working, they also make and design on premises in the workshop. If you wandered down to their little shop you’d no doubt find them working away on their latest pieces inside.
Shari and Donald plan to take their collections on tour for sale later this year.
Shari and Donald Wright
38 Cribb St Landsborough