In conversation

In conversation

Delwynne Winter and Yon Kavvas are the brains behind Love Winter jewellery, and Claybird Ceramics respectively; friends and collaborators who share a light-filled studio and showroom in Auckland’s Takapuna.

It’s no coincidence that Love Winter rings look very much at home on (and in) Claybird Ceramics ring cones and bowls — this creative duo work alongside each other daily; wearing the many hats that come with entrepreneurship, and motherhood!

Candid and humorous, we chatted to Del and Yon about making with their hands — and the value of creative and emotional support that comes from creating in a collaborative space.

Tell me about how you met, and what drew you to working with each other?

Delwynne: We met through doing Markets, and I thought that Yon was just fun! I loved her sense of humour — I feel like we clicked quite early on through humour. I love her aesthetic, and it’s been interesting to see her ceramics evolve. I still love all the pieces I have of her early work —the little cacti pots and hand painted spoons — as much as the gorgeous stuff she makes now.

Yon: It’s so funny, the things we like about people! I feel the same about Del, too. Great sense of humour and a quick wit. I think it was the first Auckland fair where I met Del and she came over and introduced herself. Our conversation then was a memorable one!

How does working from a collective space influence your creative processes and your businesses?

Y: For me it’s been really rewarding because you’re able to have conversations about anything. When you’re on your own, you really internalise things and you become quite inward with your ideas.

Whereas when you’re in a collective space it’s nice to be able to ask: “What do you reckon about this?” Honesty is really good. Del will say, “oooh, I’m not sure about that,” or, “maybe do this...” It’s nice to have input from someone else whose eye you can trust.

D: I’d say even purposefully getting up, getting dressed — it sounds ridiculous, but even getting out of the house, has an impact on my work. It’s a lovely space, and every day I’m grateful for it. It’s really nice having a shop here too so I can meet clients more easily than I could at home. Just having people around is great.

It sounds like the presence of other creatives is really valuable when running a business solo.

Y: We can empathise with each other when we do have issues. We’re here to support one another, we know what’s going on. I can tell when Del walks in if there’s an issue. Because I’m removed enough she can tell me if there’s any issues, and likewise I can tell her if there’s something bothering me.

D: I’m very thankful for that right now. Honestly, I can have a big cry because she’s just asked me about what’s going on, and we can have a good chat about things. She’s a great sounding board!

Y: It’s nice to be able to have that support.

What does making with your hands mean to you — and what is the importance of this in the digital age?

D: Well, I think you can get a lot of copies from doing things digitally, but you can’t reproduce exactly with your hands. You put your own unique stamp on the art that you make with your hands, it’s slower like that, and more conscious

Y: It’s definitely more conscious for sure. The feedback I get from the public is very reassuring, the handmade aspect is really what a lot of people are after these days. They can appreciate the amount of work that’s gone into that one piece; it’s more like a treasure for them, and a treasure for you too, because you’ve made that.

D: I’d say even purposefully getting up, getting dressed — it sounds ridiculous, but even getting out of the house, has an impact on my work. It’s a lovely space, and every day I’m grateful for it. It’s really nice having a shop here too so I can meet clients more easily than I could at home. Just having people around is great.

D: Even in the last five years I feel like there’s been quite a revolution around makers.

Y: Especially with the whole throwaway era. Everyone’s become a lot more conscious about packaging. That’s been pretty good for us, because we’re doing the same; thinking about how we package things, what resources we’re using, how we can reuse things...

What other lives did you lead before pursuing your current paths?

D: Music has always been part of my life. Well, up until recently — jewellery has well and truly taken over! I studied music and sang for Opera New Zealand for a few years, then got into musical theatre, which has been so rewarding and fun.

I was a graphic designer and worked for a studio for about 5 years, then worked for myself for 6 years. After having kids and doing part time work to fit around family, I got into jewellery design and haven’t looked back!

I’ve always been creative, I’m happiest being creative!

It’s amazing how many different avenues you can explore in one life.

Y: For me, I studied Archaeology and Anthropology, and I was always acting on stage at Uni and at College even. Every year I’d act in a Summer Shakespeare or some stage production. I’m half Turkish, so once I graduated I went over there to do some digs. At that time my parents had a rug shop, and my Dad was developing a contemporary rug store, so he was like: “Why don’t you come back and help me do that.” So, I did.

I didn’t do any training for design, it was just a natural thing. Throughout my life I’ve always been a creator. Always making things, always doing creative things.

What an interesting evolution, but it makes so much sense!

Y: Yeah it was. I think for me, I chose my path based on how I wanted my work to fit into my life and children. Although, even though I wanted it [Claybird Ceramics] to be part time, it’s not really part time!

D: It’s nice for our kids, to see you can start a business and be successful at it. Especially for our girls, it’s good for them to see you can be a Mum and a Girl Boss, and that you can be successful doing that!

Photography by

Sara Orme

Words by

KM Marks

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