Southern Wild Co has long admired the work of Australian metalsmith Alison Jackson, from the first sighting of her contemporary yet organic pieces at a Finders Keepers market years ago. Her stunning flatware, jewellery, servingware and vessels are painstakingly handcrafted one-of-a-kind pieces designed to endure.
Dan Lorrimer and Alison Jackson in their Braidwood studio. Image Lean Timms.
Creative practices evolve, and so too has Alison’s. In 2021, Alison Jackson Studio became Ferro Forma, a partnership with fellow metalsmith and artist Dan Lorrimer. We were beyond excited to learn that Ferro Forma would work with us to create something extra special for the Southern Wild Co range.
United in our love of the Australian landscape and beautiful keepsake pieces that can be enjoyed every day, our collaboration has culminated in the Whee-La, a limited edition candle snuffer handcrafted in brass inspired by the majestic black cockatoo. Whee-La is the phonetic spelling of the native birds echoing, mystical call, and the candle snuffer’s form and hand-hammered textures conjure an exquisite lone feather.
Today on the Journal, we speak with Alison about her creative journey and Ferro Forma’s evolution, and she shares the process behind the creation of the Whee-La. Alison chimes in from the Ferro Forma studio during a significant week for her and Dan. Partners in business and life, the creative couple are about to welcome their first baby into the world.
At what point in your creative journey did you realise silversmithing was your calling?
My journey is a little along the lines of – an interest becomes a passion, and then that passion becomes a career. It started as something fun when I was young, tinkering away in my dad’s small workshop under the house, making odds and ends. It then became regular after-school classes that pushed my interest in metal further until it seemed like a good idea to study Silversmithing at university. At this point, it had become a passion. From here on, I wanted to find a way to make my passion a means to earn a living.
It has been a natural progression, and I didn’t suddenly decide to turn it into a business. My time gradually shifted from part-time work to spending more and more time on my own work, and I got to a point where I had to leap in.
In 2021, you rebranded from Alison Jackson Studio to Ferro Forma, a partnership with fellow metalsmith Dan Lorrimer. What prompted this shift, and what does Ferro Forma mean?
Dan and I have been working together for many years, starting with designing and producing my first stainless steel tableware pieces under Alison Jackson Studio. It has gradually expanded to a team effort where we collaborate across our craft practices.
With our work more and more intertwined, and after 13 years under Alison Jackson Studio, we felt it was the right time to rebrand to Ferro Forma, an exciting evolution of our business and one that truly reflects who we are now and into the future.
Ferro Forma is the culmination of a long-standing partnership between the two of us. Our name is a combination of Ferro meaning ferrous or iron, while Forma means form. We created this name to represent how everything that we make or form starts with iron. Whether its the tools we use or the materials we employ, iron is the common element that makes so much of what we do possible.
How do you and Dan each contribute to Ferro Forma? As partners in business and life, how do you keep things balanced and bouncing along?
We each juggle different parts of our home life and business – the making, the ideas, the admin, the tech, the website, the maintenance, the creativity. It’s all in the mix of our day-to-day.
Essentially, we are two people who love making with our hands. We often laugh and say Dan does big metals and I do small metals. But truth be told, our world of making is far more intertwined than that. My background is in traditional silversmithing and jewellery, while Dan’s training is in contemporary sculpture, tool-making and machining. As with most small businesses, there are many roles to fill outside of the creative aspects. We try to jump between them and share the roles as evenly as we can.
Your workshop is based in Braidwood, a historical town in the southern tablelands of New South Wales, halfway between Canberra and the sea. How does the location play into Ferro Forma’s work?
Braidwood has been home for four years now, and we love the change moving to the country has made for us. It’s hard to put a finger on how Braidwood influences our work, but the quiet cosiness of our town, and the beauty of the country, has truly seeped into our bones.
Before our move, we rented two separate workshops and lived in a little apartment in Canberra. After many years of spending long days in our workshops and very little time at home, we knew we wanted to live and work in one place. We found just the perfect spot here in Braidwood – lots of space for a workshop and still within easy distance of the post office as we send mostly everything we do via the post.
This ended up being a life-changing decision and a dream come true, and so many positive things we didn’t anticipate have helped us feel at home in Braidwood.
The wonderful Ferro Forma x SWC collaboration gave birth to the Whee-La, a limited-edition candle snuffer that encapsulates the spirit of the Australian bush and country living. How did you bring this concept to life?
From our first chats with Tania from SWC, she was really drawn to our Wagtail Scoops. Our shared love for this piece in our collection was a really wonderful initial starting point.
Both living in rural areas, we very much share a love for the Australian bush and landscape. We have Wagtail birds hopping in our garden through spring and summer and Black Cockatoos that find homes in our big trees. They are majestic ancient creatures with their distinctive Whee-la call always letting us know when they are around.
The individual hand-hammered finish of our Wagtail Scoops was an element we wanted to convey in the Whee-la Candle Snuffer, as it really gives each piece a unique personality and a touch of the maker’s hand.
We worked through prototype options, going back and forth to hone in on the finer details such as the size, the function and different surface finishing options to realise the final design.
The candle snuffer has been a perfect piece to collaborate on. It’s a beautiful object in its own right but also very much fit for use with a small hinge allowing it to gently tilt over the wick and extinguish the candle. There is something so enticing and captivating about this experience, from the initial lighting of a SWC candle, having the scent move through a space, and then using the Whee-la Candle Snuffer to gently extinguish the flame. It’s all an uplifting, enriching experience.
As long-time admirers of your elegantly elemental creations, we were thrilled to collaborate with you on this project. What excited you about the Ferro Forma x SWC collaboration?
We were really excited to collaborate with Southern Wild Co, especially on a candle snuffer – a perfect piece to add to the SWC range. A candle snuffer is a piece we’ve had in mind for some years, throwing ideas back and forth between ourselves, so this collaboration presented a great opportunity at a wonderful time!
Southern Wild Co is such a vibrant brand with deep attention to detail, and we felt a natural fit between us from the beginning. Building our shared love for our Wagtail Scoops with their individualised hand-hammered texture was a wonderful starting point for developing the Whee-la Candle Snuffer.
Describe a typical day in the Ferro Forma workshop.
Dan and I start each day with breakfast together, and if it’s winter, Dan gets the fire going in the workshop. Each day could be one task or many, producing our products, sending out orders, communicating with customers or retailers. It can be easy to get distracted, so we try to always have a good list of what’s happening in the workshop ready to go.
Some days we sit in a sunny spot in our garden and work on developing a new tableware piece, sketching and chatting. It often takes years for an initial spark of an idea to make it into production – so this is something we often return to again and again over a period of time for each new piece we make.
As part of this process, each piece we make goes through many steps and changes, from the beginning spark of an idea through to the design decisions, and the making. We always stretch our creativity to include new processes, ensuring we are creating the best quality pieces we can.
What are your favourite metals to work with and why? What techniques do you employ?
We particularly love using brass and stainless steel in our work, as they are such versatile metals. Stainless steel can be challenging to work with, but it offers many possibilities with its ductility and strength. It’s food-safe properties also make it perfect for flatware and serving food, and it's robust enough to stand up to everyday use. In contrast, brass has such a warm glow, a real richness, and a depth of character that we love. It’s a material that forms beautifully and can be patinated and finished in so many different ways, always presenting unexpected and celebrated variations.
Our techniques vary widely. We use traditional fine hand skills, hand machining, complex industrial processes, and a vast range of machinery from the 1800s to today – ultimately blending old-world making with contemporary design.
For us, the skill of hand sanding or fine cutting at the bench is just as valuable as our toolmaking and hydraulic pressing techniques. I think having such a varied skill set between us allows us to explore really exciting possibilities. The making process is such a key part of everything we do. Often the desire to use a particular technique or machine drives a design initially. It pushes us creatively and technically in our making.
Ferro Forma's handcrafted creations inspire people to celebrate the small moments, elevating each day with beautiful, practical objects designed to endure.
What are some of the daily rituals you hold dear?
We like to imbue our day with the objects we create, from scooping our morning muesli with one of our Wagtail Scoops to buttering our toast with our Butter Knives. We like savouring the experience and joy of these everyday moments.
We also love to pair our pieces with bowls, cups and plates made by other craftspeople; there is nothing like enjoying the food you have made with lovingly created tableware. And of course, there is nothing quite like ending the day with a little bowl of ice cream and teaspoon in hand – just the right size to savour each mouthful.
What’s on the horizon for you and Dan?
We’ve recently released new additions to our Jewellery Collection – a collection of stud-style earrings. Further expanding our existing contemporary collection, they artfully blend traditional craftsmanship with iconic design, and each pair is exquisitely handcrafted in stainless steel by us. We love the timelessness of stainless steel, with its silver-grey lustre and non-tarnish properties. It brings together comfort, style and longevity, ensuring these treasured pieces stand up to everyday wear for many years to come.
Looking ahead, we have a new Flatware Collection in the works for release in the new year, as well as some exciting collaborations we can’t spill the beans on just yet! We’re also about to welcome our first baby – a big adventure ahead of us as our family expands from two to three!SWC X Ferro Forma Whee-La Brass Candle Snuffer is now available.
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