Jewellery label Two Hills was created by Rhiannon Smith in 2011 whilst finishing a Fine Art degree at Melbourne’s Monash University. With a hankering to put her hands to use, and through serendipitous connections to the jewellery industry, combined with her pleasure in using precious metals sent her on a journey of discovery. The joy of making jewellery for herself and growing number of friends and acquaintances lead Rhiannon to realise the viability of this venture. Still going strong 8 years later we have to agree!
Two Hills label is steeped in clean lines, appreciation of the natural beauty of materials and thought provoking design. This week at Monk House Design, Brunswick she put together a charming and wholly Two Hills window display to celebrate the new collection ‘Collection Three’ which dropped in store recently.
Collection Three builds on the deceptively simple, minimalist designs of previous collections with a more earthy ‘natural’ edge creeping in at certain points. Imperfect texture and smooth irregular shapes feature for example in Necklace No. 37 and Earring No.36. In the collection are some sweet, smaller hoops and everyday necklaces that are divine for layering, with exisiting vintage or Two Hills pieces. There is also of course, a statement earring, which Rhi always does so well! This season is no exception with the standout being Earring no.28 which is a swirly, highly textural hoop shaped earring, which is generous in size. If you wanted a more petite, textural hoop Earring No. 27 is there for you, for the more everyday moments. Two Hills pieces are always made with the upmost care, consideration and integrity.
We were delighted to catch up with Rhiannon last week to ask some questions about her label and her practice as a jeweller….
Are you an early riser or do you prefer slow mornings and working into the night?
I’ve desperately tried to be an early riser, but I’ve come to realise it’s just not how I operate. It’s taken a few years and lots of trial and error but I’ve finally developed a morning routine that works to help put me in the right frame of mind to be productive. It’s one of the luxuries of working for yourself but also one of the easiest things to beat yourself up about if you don’t fit in to the standard work week schedule.
Running your own label must have some challenges, what is the most rewarding part? What has been the most difficult?
The most difficult is probably the uncertainty and self-doubt that can creep in when things get tough, being able to call on friends and colleages had made all the difference to me. I’m very lucky to have a strong support network and cheerleading squad backing me up. The most rewarding is knowing that I’ve worked really hard for a long time to build a business that sustains me and hearing from happy customers who have been long time supporters, it never ceases to amaze me how kind people can be.
What was the inspiration behind the new collection?
Collection Three came about after a period of personal heartache. I was travelling with friends for a few weeks and we did a small hike on Mt Buffalo. The trail took us on a twisting, looping path between and around giant boulders that seemed to gently balance on one another in quite precarious formations. I became interested in visual representations of weight, strength and balance and how a path becomes a metaphor for life and how we travel through it. I became focussed on how to regain balance when you’ve been twisted and turned around by trauma and realised it’s never a straight line. That sounds very heavy for a jewellery collection but I find the act of making to be quite therapeutic so I guess maybe it was just a natural progression.
What is the most intuitive part of the design process for you, what do you enjoy most in the making process?
Getting ideas onto paper. At the start of a collection I’ll make hundreds of little sketches, they’re very loose and rarely resemble an actual piece of jewellery but there’s a nice freedom and mindlessness in that. Then the struggle and joy of trying to translate those into a wearable object begins…that process is exceptionally rewarding.
Talking jewellery care for a moment…what are some tricks we can use to keep our lovely Two Hills pieces looking picture perfect over time?
You can’t go past a little box to protect your treasure; I also use a silver cloth that I’ve had since I was a teenager for when pieces need a little extra love. When cleaning pieces at home I find the best method is to soak in a little warm water and unscented dish detergent and then a gentle go over with a soft baby tooth brush…just be mindful of pearls…they don’t like any kind of cleaning!
From reading about you, it seems travel informs and inspires your collections - what do you think it is about getting out of your immediate environment that enables you to see differently?
I think it’s just that natural human response of heightened awareness that’s triggered by the unfamiliar…fight or flight. I become a little more detached from phones and technology when out of my usual space and that definitely opens me up to experiencing environments rather than just trying to get through them on the way to somewhere else.
When off duty, what is one activity or past time you can’t live without?
Hanging out with friends in the sunshine, talking about life and being silly, it regenerates me.