Introducing John Sheehan Junior's new collection
John Sheehan Junior began learning his craft as a teenager in the Mountain Jade studio in Rotorua. His passion for jade has been transparent from the very beginning, and over the last 22 years, he has continued to push the boundaries with his designs and art.
After two decades working with Mountain Jade, John is now taking a step back from his current role as Product and Design Manager to spend time at home looking after his two young children.
However, this change is not only driven by the opportunity to spend more time with his kids – John also wants to get back behind the carving bench in his home studio and say goodbye to office life!
"It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and created a body of work, maybe 8-10 years. Now is the right time to focus on my passion, what I love, and what I want to do – creating and carving jade.”
In this blog we ask John a few questions about his new collection of work.
What do you love about your new collection?
What I love about this collection is that I’m making every piece myself. I usually design pendants but never get to carve them - the carving would be done by artists in our Rotorua and Hokitika studios. So being able to design and carve this body of work was pretty incredible, especially after such a long time of just designing.
What inspired your designs?
Leftover pieces of stone are what inspired this collection. By leftovers, I mean the off-cuts of stone from larger bodies of work. These inspired my collection as I have always believed in the importance of utilising every piece of stone - nothing should be wasted.
Working with leftover stones is challenging - you often need to design around imperfections, work with smaller pieces, and combine jade with other materials. Yet, this challenge and the irreplaceable nature of the resource is what drives me to make sure no stone goes unnoticed.
"I always look for possibilities in leftover stones that other artists may have missed."
I always let the stone dictate my design. By closely studying the raw material, an artist can see what designs are possible – you should never try to force a design upon a stone.
Once I knew the possibilities with my chosen stones, I drew further inspiration by thinking back to the designs I’ve created throughout my career - as far back as when I was training. Yet, when drawing on my old work, I also tried to make sure I didn’t just replicate it.
"I’ve really tried to push my designs and create something new for myself and Mountain Jade."
How will your collection develop over the next year?
I’m not sure yet, I don’t have any defined plans. At the moment, all I want to do is take popular designs that people are drawn to and develop these into something slightly different – bring a new sense of life to them.
I’d also like to focus on creating more jewellery, both fine and fashion jewellery, like my gold bale beads and gemstone collection. Once again, this motivation is from my desire to utilise the stone - I want to transform those tiny leftovers into beautiful necklaces, earrings and rings.
Creating jewellery also enables me to work more with beautiful stones I’ve collected on my journeys overseas and collaborate with artists who work with different materials.
"I love designing, creating stone into something special, and collaborating with other artists – these things will guide my future work."
Will we still see you at the Mountain Jade Studio?
I will do most of my work from my home studio, but I’ll also pop into the Rotorua workshop now and again - especially in winter as it's warmer than my garage!
I’ve been hanging out in the Mountain Jade studio since I was 9-10 years old. I’m used to the tools there, it’s comfortable, and I can learn from the other artists - it's like home to me.
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