Creating beautiful jewelry out semi-precious and precious gemstones, Ottawa-based Fran Miles is the founder and designer of Open Fire. Using her silversmith training from an established goldsmith, she creates beautiful and wearable jewelry through her delicate and refined craftsmanship. We sat down with Fran to learn more about the business of jewellery making. For more information about Open Fire, take a look at her Etsy Shop or follow her on Instagram.
- What sparked you to begin a career in the jewellery industry?Sometimes it feels like things just fell into place, but when I look back I can see that it was a series of small decisions that led me here. I was that kid always making friendship bracelets, hoarder of beads and thread. I love that jewellery can represent a specific period of time, or a mantra you want to keep close; I’ve used jewellery in these ways throughout my life. In art school I was completely obsessed with metaphor and signs, these were the themes of choice for my paintings and photography. During that time a professor encouraged me to explore sculptural wire more, after she admired a piece I had done. At the time I completely dismissed this, as I thought I had just run into serious luck (I had made the project only hours before presenting it). As I spend my days making little sculptures known as jewellery, I can smile at the memory of this conversation. After graduation I began working for an independent fine jewellery shop, where my love for gemstones and metal design intensified. From there, it was a nudging intuition that told me this was the direction my creativity was going.
- What was it about jewellery design that intrigued you the most?I like to view jewellery as tiny sculptures. As a maker, this has really changed the way I look at metal work and design. It’s all in the small details: the various marks I can make with one hammer, the contrast of polished and oxidized metal, and the minimal but strong bends of wire. Each Open Fire piece is one-of-a-kind, and I’m pretty stoked on that. Business wise, it can make things complicated; creatively, I need the freedom to make what I want and just hope for the best.
- Where do you draw your inspiration?The production process itself is inspiring. I get to play with wire, inspect gemstones, experiment with tools, and solder metals together. So many ideas come while in the meditative, ‘flow-state’ of production where my hands are busy and my mind is focused.
- Is there a designer that you admire the most?I really admire the work of Ottawa based artist and goldsmith, Chayle Cook. Her work is strong and sculptural, while remaining soft and organic. This balance, between the delicate and the rough is what I strive for with Open Fire.
- What has been your biggest achievement/obstacle so far in your career?The biggest obstacle I faced with my business was ‘simply’ to begin. Choosing to ignore my doubts, and to trust my intuition (which creatively, has always been on my side) turned out to also be my biggest achievement. What I’ve learned from being an artist, small business owner and 26 year-old human, is that taking leaps-of-faith are absolutely necessary for growth. This is something I am prepared to learn over and over again as I go forward with Open Fire.
- Any advice for aspiring #CREATORS?
If i know anything for certain, it’s to be vulnerable with your art, trust your intuition and do the work.