She burnt her first batch of clay creations - "I left my room for a few minutes after I’d started the oven, and returned to a room filled with thick dark smoke. I think I kind of freaked my parents out."
But that was before. Sparkle, the woman behind the popular clay jewellery brand goodbyejohanna, now handmakes the most intricate and beautiful accessories. We'd like to call her a master of her craft, but she thinks this is just the beginning and strives to be better at what she does every day.
We speak with her to learn more about crafting with polymer clay, her inspiration and what keeps her going.
Hi! Could you tell us a little more about yourself and goodbyejohanna?
Hi! My name is Sparkle and I am the person who does all the things over at goodbyejohanna.
goodbyejohanna is a small-batch jewellery brand born out of a love for intricacy, and a passion for making things. Each piece of jewellery I make is meticulously handcrafted, down to the smallest detail. With goodbyejohanna, my goal is to create jewellery that is comfortable, long-lasting, and a celebration of your own distinctive style.
I started making jewellery when I was 16, back in 2014. At the time, I was just beginning to explore my own personal style and identity, and I wanted to wear things that reflected the stuff I loved. I’d spend hours browsing thrift stores, Carousell, and local shops to find jewellery that resonated with me. Unfortunately such pieces were difficult to come by, and my searches often left me tired and frustrated. Many brands or artists I liked were based overseas, and international shipping was more than my 16 year old self could afford. But on the occasion I was able to acquire a piece of jewellery that I truly loved, wearing it made me feel so much happier and more confident in the way I looked.
At some point I thought, “Why not make my own jewellery?” That way, I would be able to make things exactly the way I liked them - and I wouldn’t have to pay for shipping.
It was so much easier said than done. When I first got started, my creations were disasters. No matter how hard I tried, my hands just couldn’t produce the designs I saw in my mind. Even after my skills improved, I still struggled to find my creative voice, and found it challenging to create jewellery I actually wanted to wear. But I kept trying, exploring different techniques, mediums and styles. It took a long time to find something that felt truly, authentically me. But with goodbyejohanna, I think I’ve finally found it.
How did you get into clay-ing in the beginning?
I’d wanted to work with polymer clay for years before I actually started. I was enthralled by all the possibilities clay offered, the idea that you could make practically anything from it - sculptures, home decoration, wall art, jewellery, knick-knacks, or even fancy art dolls.
I usually take ages to get into new mediums. I spend so much time researching them, learning everything I can, then getting overwhelmed by it all - the sheer amount of information I’m taking in, the intimidating learning curve, and the terrifying anticipation of all the time and energy it’ll take to source the best materials, practice the skill, and actually commit to it. But one day I got sick of overthinking everything and just took the plunge. I went out, bought a bunch of clay, got a secondhand oven off Carousell and started almost as soon as I got the oven home.
Fun story: I burned my first batch of clay pieces, because I was too eager to begin and didn’t set the temperature properly. I left my room for a few minutes after I’d started the oven, and returned to a room filled with thick dark smoke. I think I kind of freaked my parents out, because (if I’m not wrong) up till the moment they saw the smoke, they had no idea I was baking anything. Thankfully no one was hurt. I threw the burnt stuff away, and the smell of smoke soon left my room. The oven now sits in our living room, and I check the temperature before baking every time.
What are your sources of inspiration?
I rarely reference anything specific when developing my designs. I’m a bit lazy in that sense - my favourite method of creating is just sitting down, messing around with some colours and letting my hands lead me. I make whatever comes to mind.
I’m drawn to warm colours, muted shades, and of course the colour black. Red things always catch my eye. I love poetry, horror movies, horror comedies, and horror comedy musicals. I’m inspired by the way light sifts through leaves and petals as they rustle in the wind, how the splashes of glow are always ever-so-slightly swaying and shifting. I love rock, metal, musical theatre, and Taylor Swift. Halloween is my favourite holiday, but I really like Christmas too because my family celebrates it, and also there’s a lot of red decorations and pretty lights. I love lace, spiderwebs, elaborate gowns, Victorian decor, and The Addams Family. Hearing a full orchestra play live is probably one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever experienced. Someday, I’d like to make earrings inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s work. I think people and their stories are fascinating, and I wish I was better at talking to people. I find gothic architecture to be absolutely beautiful, but I have no idea how to incorporate it into my work. For now, everything I take in somehow comes out as flowers, mostly.
What do you want your customers to feel when they put on your jewellery? And what keeps you going?
I want you guys to feel comfortable! Or however you want to feel. If you want to feel beautiful, cool, confident, fun, elegant, whatever, I hope my jewelry will give you that little extra boost you need.
I think it’s so cool that we get to express ourselves through the things we wear. I’m constantly inspired by the rainbow of ways people express themselves through fashion, and the empowerment that comes with being able to choose the way you present yourself to the world. I want to make designs you’ll feel a connection with. I hope my jewelry will bring you the same joy it brings me - of discovering and wearing something that resonates with you, and feels just right.
I love what I do. I guess what keeps me going is the desire to continuously improve and grow, and be better than I was before. These days I’m doing so many things I never dreamed I’d be able to do - I’m kinda just looking forward to seeing what new thing I’ll surprise myself with next. It’s really exciting! I guess what keeps me moving forward is the idea that the more I work and practice, the closer I get to unlocking new possibilities. Also, coffees.
If you'd like to purchase the limited edition collaboration sets between goodbyejohanna and Our Bralette Club, click here.