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Out of the Blue

Date: 09-01-2023

Kristi Van der Leilie

Kristi Van der Lelie’s first foray into jewellery-making was at age thirteen. Kristi’s father, Alastair Bax, had been working at home as a jeweller for some years. He asked her to help him make an extremely long silver chain.

Kristi recalls, “He had no draw bench and being innovative, attached the draw plate to the back of the garage and the pliers to the front bumper of our car and drove slowly backwards down the driveway. After he annealed the wire I wrapped it around a narrow plate, snipped off the loops and was introduced to silver soldering with oxy. One or two blobs later I got the hang of it. I had to twist them just so, then cut every second one and re-solder. After pickling and tumbling it looked pretty damn good!”

Many years later when Kristi got engaged, she designed her wedding and engagement rings. “Dad created them. It was exciting to see my designs and concepts brought to life!” enthuses Kristi.

Fast-forward to 2012, Kristi had been working for the government for many years in fleet management and decided it was time for a change, so she took a voluntary redundancy. She had to make a decision what to do with the rest of her working life. Kristi reflects, “I was aware of the joy my dad gained from making jewellery and the thought of learning and working with him had a huge appeal! Out of the blue I said … Dad, I want to be a jeweller. Can you teach me? Of course he said yes.”

After a spell at TAFE, Kristi worked for her father full-time. She says he was a good and patient teacher and she learned fast. Kristi says, “I felt the thrill of creating something beautiful that would be cherished for years and then passed on. I loved designing and dad said recently I was a better designer than he.”

Kristi says that she often spends longer thinking about a ring than actually making it! She has accumulated a large, loyal customer base over the years and only works to order.

“I bless the day that I decided to swap spreadsheets for saw blades! To work at something you love and be paid for it, is the ultimate joy.”

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Kristi Van der Lelie    Kristi Van der Lelie