By Melissa Keogh
The Riverland’s native flora and prime horticulture crops including pistachios, citrus and olives are often the inspiration behind handcrafted contemporary jewellery label Jax and Co.
Maker Jax Isaacson doesn’t have to wander far to gather materials used to make the durable and sustainable pieces made predominantly from resin and reclaimed Australian Mallee wood.
“I use all local reclaimed Australian wood, and my signature wood is white Mallee, which is indigenous to this region,” she says from her home studio in Waikerie.
“It’s all reclaimed from naturally fallen trees or agricultural clearings, and I use a bit of orange, pistachio and olive (trees) that people might be pulling out.”
Living on a pistachio farm, Jax can forage around the property to collect the fallen bits of wood, while she also sources botanicals from her garden and those of family and friends.
The botanicals are preserved and set in resin – a glass like material – and made into decorative spheres and ring holders.
“I am originally from Waikerie and the environment and area is very special to me,” Jax says. “I want to share the beauty of Waikerie and the natives which a lot of people don’t get to see.”
For jewellery pieces such as earrings, pendants, rings, bangles and cuff links, Jax predominantly uses resin and the sustainably reclaimed Mallee wood.
She will set about to collect the burl – a knot or lump that grows on a tree and often sought after by artists and furniture makers – before cleaning the bark off and naturally drying out the wood for 12 months.
The wood, once dried and cut, is mixed in with the resin and set before the product is carved, shaped and polished into finished statement pieces.
Jax has a background in graphic design, but decided to experiment with resin kits as a bit of a hobby while at home with her small children.
“I always loved the bright colours in the resin and the durability of it. At one point I put wood into the resin and the outcome was spectacular,” she says.
“I was wearing one of the pieces of jewellery I had made when somebody saw it and wanted to buy it, so I let them, and I made another one and sold that too. I got all this interest just through word of mouth and it was really quite full on, I wasn’t expecting that.”
In 2016 Jax decided to officially start her own label, giving it a name and using her graphic design skills to launch the brand.
Aside from online, Jax and Co now sells in four stores in Adelaide, a handful of shops in the Riverland, and also interstate.
Jax says there is growing demand for sustainable and handmade goods in the marketplace.
“In the last couple of years I think there has been a real shift in consumer attitude towards sustainability. People are starting to see that the outcome of our throwaway culture isn’t positive,” she says.
“A lot of people are happy to pay more for a quality product that offers a difference, and is handmade locally and they can appreciate that time and effort has been put into it.
“I like the way we’re heading.”
Header photo features Jax Isaacson with a Mallee burl. Photo by Rosina Possingham.
Industry in focus: Craft industries
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South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.
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