In-Hāus Dialogue with Liz Hermann
'twas one cold winter evening; between the hustle and bustle of bumping in for Melbourne's hottest pop-up market - The Finders Keepers; we stumbled upon Liz' jewellery booth. Once mere strangers exchanging friendly glances, now friends in the slow, ethical and sustainable circles.
A self-taught silversmith, who works in her solar powered studio in the Australian Alps; Liz draws her inspiration primarily from the natures in her surrounds. Her commitment for ethics and sustainability permeate not only her business but also throughout her family lifestyle and eating habits, all in the name of reducing her impacts on the environment.
To us, Liz isn't only a thoughtful friend but she is also a great inspiration to us in the slow living world. In one of our recent collaboration, we had the opportunity to chat about her work and her new life being a boss mama.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what makes you interesting!
I was born in France to an English mother & French father; and growing up, I have lived in a few countries around the globe with my adventurous family.
I spent a lot of time in nature and the ocean growing up and now live in a magical valley surrounded by mountains in North East Victoria, Australia.
What do you do, and what is the most favourite part of your work?
I am the owner and maker at Argent Silversmith - I make recycled silver & gold jewellery and run this little label along with an amazing team!
My favourite part of my work is making and creating new pieces; as there is something so incredible about dreaming up a piece of jewellery and then making it come to life. Working with metals is fascinating and I am constantly learning and practising new skills, it’s exactly what I wished for in my work.
What does sustainable silversmith mean to you, and what motivated or inspired you to do the work that you do?
I source my metals recycled - which means they are melted from offcuts, old jewellery, hardware, etc. into silver, gold wire and sheet on a commercial scale; I would then create my pieces from the recycled wire and sheet.
The creative process involves sawing out shapes and wire, a lot of sanding & filing, soldering, shaping and polishing - I don’t use any templates or blanks which means every single piece is completely unique and organic in its final shape.
I am hoping to recycle my own scraps and customer’s old jewellery in the near future. I have found that putting sustainability at the forefront of my business has definitely impacted my personal choices too and I strive to learn and share pathways to drawing down carbon, supporting local, organic, sustainable & regenerative businesses, divesting from companies in bed with fossil fuels and investing in those that are doing something positive for the planet, etc.
You live in one of the most envious places in the world (well to us at least!). Have you always lived near the Alps? And why did you decide that its’ the best place?
I have lived in a number of places from mountains to beach to countryside, each so incredible in its own way! Meeting my man is definitely what got me to move here on a permanent basis but I have had ties to this area through family and coming here since I was a little munchkin so it actually felt like coming home when I eventually moved here.
Similar to us, you live and practice the ethical and sustainable aspects of living. What makes you interested in these two topics in the first place? Did you notice a difference when you adopted more and more slow living style?
Sustainability has not always been at the forefront of my concerns, it was only really in the last few years that I have started gaining knowledge & understanding of where we are headed as a species.
The road to sustainable living so far has been both enlightening and frustrating - some practices I have completely adopted and others not so much. There is so much that we can do as individuals in terms of reducing our impact on this beautiful planet but it is also difficult to feel like we do when we watch what governments and corporations around the world are doing to reap quick & easy profits to the detriment of the environment. I definitely became more conscious of where products were made, food was grown & shipped from, the impact of packaging and the ease of changing a few simple habits when I started adopting a slower lifestyle.
I realised how much I was flying and my carbon footprint through food miles and made a conscious decision to think twice about every and anything I was spending money on - where was it made, who made it or grew it, is it ethically produced, is there a less impactful alternative, etc.
I definitely think life is more meaningful and beautiful when we start growing our own food, supporting small & local businesses, spending more time in nature and our own backyard - then again, I am always aware that I am very fortunate to be living in a country and area where this choice is possible for me.
Coming from a multi-cultural family background, what does tradition and culture mean to you?
My background is French so tradition and culture are relatively important and surrounding food. I believe that through traditions and strong cultural influences, we can nourish our minds, creativity, and share knowledge & understanding of the world around us. There is so much to be learnt from our elders and community, even with the science and technological advances of our century.
As a new mama, how do you find the balance between being present in the creative space and the family? Do you have any tips you could share to other creative mamas?
I am very lucky to have a partner and baby daddy who doesn’t work huge weeks and consciously spends time with our daughter.
Yüna has been pretty easy going so far and I’ve been able to get a fair bit of work done with her at home too! Also extremely blessed to have an incredible community, friends and family around who are always so eager to help out.
I originally thought I would take a lot of time off after she was born but found that I was itching to create new pieces after about 4 months of her being earthside.
I recommend going with the flow and what feels right for you, everyone is different and you might even find that, like me, your expectations of yourself in motherhood did not coincide with reality. Also use your community, whether it be friends, family or both. Everyone is generally so happy to babysit a little chubby bubby so let them!
Early mornings or late nights?
Early mornings all the way.. it's currently 7.14pm where I am and my eyes are already droopy.
Lastly, what's your rhythm of life? and do you have a daily mantra or ritual?
It’s a bit different at the moment, between lockdowns and freedom, my partner being home or not - I generally wake up early and try to do some form of exercise whether it be yoga or a trail run, then coffee (always coffee) and some quality time with my baby girl before starting my day. At the moment I only work 3 days a week, generally it’s 4, and try to finish early for a river dip in the summer or an evening stroll in the winter!
Breathwork and a gratitude practice! Just taking a few minutes to connect with my breath and be present can set a mindful pace for the day; a gratitude practice can establish little connections and reminders to be grateful for all that we do have rather than what we want or need.