Vathir had the pleasure to interview Sally Leung, the artisan behind the jewellery label Lyleu. Find out about who Sally Leung is, the production process of Lyleu jewellery and her advice for aspiring artisans.
Shop Lyleu’s jewellery HERE
Photo by Dakota Gordon
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Sally Leung, and how did you get into fashion?
I’m 25 years old, born in Hong Kong but grew up in Sydney, Australia where I am still currently living. I began my jewellery making with a Fine Arts background, so I actually never set out to be in fashion, but it has naturally flown into that arena from creating a brand out of what I do.
I didn’t set out to be a fashion label, but since starting Lyleu it has definitely become part of fashion in terms of the styling aspect. I have always loved dressing myself, and I wanted to make jewellery that complimented my style and the like minded people that could relate to it.
What was the biggest challenge with starting up Lyleu?
It was mainly just setting up a space where I could make jewellery. I work from a home studio, which does at times mean I can get side tracked by other duties but most of the time I can discipline myself pretty well to focus on the work.
What’s the studio like?
A bit hard to describe in words, but it’s usually quite messy. I have two benches for different uses, mainly soldering and saw piercing. It’s in front of a big window overlooking the front yard. I have my tools all lined up on a tool board that is attached to the wall in front of me, and various storage boxes and shelves for tools and materials. I’ve got a few photo prints I want to get framed and hang up soon, but other than that I actually don’t have much in terms of decorations.
What are your methods of production and what does the process look like?
I use various traditional silver smithing techniques. I make everything by hand, except for very fine chain, small jump rings, and most clasps. At the moment I do not use the casting method, but this might come in future collections, but for now everything is 90% made from scratch.
You are very environmentally conscious. How do you source your materials?
What is your most memorable moment in your work with Lyleu?
Every order I receive is a memorable moment. Everyone I’ve met and worked with during the last three years of Lyleu have made an impact on me, and I’m always grateful for the support I’ve received even though the label is still quite small. Apart from being able to express myself through a medium such as jewellery – which in itself is about relationships between people and memories, it in turn has rewarded me with new and lasting friendships with like minded people and creatives.
What inspires you in the creation of your jewellery?
I always begin a collection by reflecting on my experiences, how I’m feeling or would like to feel. My interests have always been within the vein of horror, fine arts, music, and nature so I often get creative stimulation from those things too.
Would you share some experience that influenced your latest collection – Ash?
The concept behind Ash was inspired by an urge to recreate myself from a previous negative experience that had a very deep effect on me. I was thinking about the well known phrase “a phoenix rising from its ashes”. I used the technique of silver reticulation, which involves heating the sterling silver to separate the silver from copper, which creates a grainy, ripply effect on the surface of the metal depending on how much you heat and move it around. It’s a very interesting technique and allows you to create a texture that is completely organic to the metal itself. I loved the idea of it matching with my need to evolve from past experiences, but still remain grounded in who I am. The silver is still silver; it still has the same components in it but it has also changed significantly. I love things that look simple but hold significant meaning.
What do you do when you’re not in your atelier?
Lyleu is yet to become a full time occupation, so work wise, if I’m not working on jewellery I am at my day job which is fashion retail. I also study part time in a jewellery manufacture course to build my technical skills.
Other than that, I frequently go to gigs to see local and international bands. I think I go to at least two shows a month. I love horror movies, so I keep up to date of what’s coming out soon in cinemas and love talking to people about the paranormal. I also spend time in nature usually with my boyfriend, or my good friend photographer Dakota Gordon (she shoots the majority of Lyleu’s campaigns and other product photos). And I have two cats and two spiny leaf insects who always brighten my day.
What have been your greatest musical experiences the past few months?
I have seen so many great bands this year, but I think the most significant one was when I saw Patti Smith twice in one month. The first was when she and her band played ‘Horses’ in its entirety, and the second time was to hear her read from her books and talk about her life. Both performances were very emotional and moving, and I feel lucky to have been able to see her, especially when she would talk about what she was doing when she was my age now. It made me think about how, although there is such a huge span between decades, there are always those who have an undying drive to make art. To sum it up, it was extremely reassuring and inspiring.
Who are your favorite designers and artisans you admire?
In terms of fashion designers who are still working for their own labels, I really admire Yohji Yamamoto and Barbara I Gongini. They have very different styles but they both speak to me on a similar level. I find their women’s wear feminine yet androgynous, classic, and practical.
Do you have any advice for an aspiring artisan or looking to turn their passion into a business venture?
If you are hoping to turn your creative practice into a business, make sure you are doing it out of a passion for the medium. Pursuing a creative business can at times be discouraging when you find yourself focusing too much on the business side of things. It’s important to take a step back every so often and have a look at what you have achieved and to be proud of every step you take to evolve and learn. You are your best inspiration.
Go to Lyleu’s designer page to shop her jewellery.
All photos are taken by Dakota Gordon
Lyleu is pronounced: ‘LEE-LU ‘ | Lyleu is an independent artisan jewellery label founded by Sally Leung in early 2014. The Lyleu atelier is based in Sydney, Australia, where all collections are designed, handcrafted, and dispatched. Eternally favouring a dark colour palette, asymmetry, and hand-forged textures, Lyleu merges minimalistic design with a dark, subtle intricacy. Lyleu is driven by an endless fascination for our ability to form meaning with our everyday surroundings, and is inspired by the dark side of nature. Taking aesthetic and philosophical inspiration from fine art, nature, alternative music, horror films, and poetry, Lyleu jewellery is made to be assimilated into your everyday armour. In order to reduce impact on the environment, whenever possible, Lyleu uses 100% recycled sterling silver sourced within Australia.