December 2021

Lonely Hearts

Toby JonesToby JonesToby JonesToby JonesToby JonesText: Tristan Ceddia Images: Toby Jones

Chances are if you are into jewellery and you like a bit of fashion you have seen the wares of Toby Jones kicking around. His designs have a DIY appeal, though on closer inspection you realise these every day objects are meticulously made from precious metal. They are distinctive whilst minimal and suggests a touch of class… just the way we like it. Tristan Ceddia chats with the people’s champion Toby Jones.

Tristan Ceddia: How long have you been designing jewellery for?

Toby Jones: Hmm how long? Well it was kind of a slow start, I didn’t want to just start pumping out designs without knowing what was involved so I went and did some night classes to begin with. That was in 2006. It was a weird because the only other people in the classes were these middle-aged women and some gothic chicks doing bead art stuff. I went in there wanting to know how I could make a bandaid out of silver. They didn’t get it. I think the first range was in stores in summer 2007/2008. Back then I was making most of it myself but that changed pretty fast.

TC: How did things change? Did you start working with jewellery makers?

TJ: It was a slow process to find reliable manufacturers, especially in Australia. It’s kind of a dead industry here these days unless you are producing for yourself. In the end I had to go overseas, which can be risky because you never know how your ideas on paper are going to translate into the physical form. Now I’m working with a great factory who understand what I’m after and are open to exploring new ways to achieve some of the stupid ideas that I have.

TC: Did you start making jewellery because you couldn’t find anything you wanted to wear yourself?

TJ: Yeah, I always wore jewellery but it was usually just things I had found on the ground and stuff like that. Bits of string or whatever you know. I never really saw anything in stores that I really liked. I made a couple of peices for myself and people were into it. Total strangers were coming up to me asking where I got it so I thought I ought to make a few more and the stores I approached really liked it.

TC: Was this prior to studying jewellery making?

TJ: I think I made one piece to start with in my dad’s workshop. It was a silver bread clip that I hacked out of a piece of silver I found lying around in all his stuff. I had a thing with bread clips back then, I had a whole collection of them.

TC: The bread clip has become a staple item for you now. You have quite a few items like this that are repeated. Back by popular demand?

TJ: Yeah people tend to want a lot of the same things. Doesn’t matter how good the next thing might be they always go back to the staples. It’s good though. I envy those companies that just produce one really good quality item. The type of thing that will always be popular, like a Swiss Army Knife or something.

TC: Speaking of knives, you just made a collaboration blade with Monster Children. What was the idea behind this piece?

TJ: Monster Children have been really great at supporting artists and designers in Australia over the years and they wanted to move away from the traditional artist gallery format. They had recently done a limited run of sunglasses with another designer and wanted to try something else. Campbell and I were both right into pocket knives and I’m always into all that old outdoor gear and tools and things so this just seemed like the obvious solution for a collaboration. It’s a great way for a small designer like me to get some good exposure and some fun for them to be able to work on a nice little product like this.

TC: You have embarked on collaborations with other brands in your time. Do you enjoy the process of working with other designers?

TJ: I did some work with fashion label Ellery last year for fashion week which was also really fun. It’s great working with other designers like this because it forces you to move away from your regular creative process and you don’t have to worry so much about upholding whatever aesthetic boundries you’ve put in place for your own work. It really allows you to be a lot more free with your ideas in order to come to resolution.

TC: You also work as a graphic designer and art director. Do you feel that you approach designing differently becase of this?

TJ: Definitely. It’s probably nothing like a normal product or fashion designer. I tend to think of the whole project rather each individual piece or even the pieces themselves. I’m usually thinking about how I can photograph them when I should be thinking about designs.

TC: How do you set about concepting a new range or project?

TJ: Often with a single idea. This might develop into a theme and then I just keep my eye out for objects and ideas that I feel fit the theme. I have a whole book of ideas that im sitting on until I think they are right for the range. Some of them are good but if it doesn’t fit with everything else then I’ll hold onto it until something else comes along the compliment it. It’s not exactly conventional or perhaps the most efficient way of designing a collection but it keeps each range tight and consistent which is the most important thing for me at this stage. All killer, no filler.

TC: Your new range Lonely Hearts club is currently in stores. What is the story behind the name and themes in this range?

TJ: The idea behind the range was kind of inspired by the story of the painter Caravagio. Remember we were talking about that book M?

TC: Yeah, I just ordered that book…

TJ: Yeah so Caravagio was rolling deep in this set of poets and swordsmen. They were badass crew of murderers and sexual misfits. It was kind of like being in the 3-6 Mafia Click. Then I heard a great joke about the difference between a key that can open any lock and a lock that can be opened by any key… Basically it’s an erotic tales of poets swordsmen, and misfits. That’s the Lonely Hearts Club.

TC: With your new range in store now, what’s next on the agenda for Jones the Jeweller?

TJ: Next on the agenda is becoming Jones the something else, or perhaps Jones the something more. I want to expand on the jewellery thing and offer a broader range of products. Maybe I’ll follow in my Dad’s footsteps and make some furniture.

TC: Oh, and what do you want for Christmas?

TJ: Time.

Toby Jones

Next story: The Passed Notes – Conor O’Brien

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