Leza McLeod has been making jewellery for over 30 years now.
She got inspired to become a goldsmith when she visited her sister-in-law’s studio way back when in Scotland. She fondly remembers the first time she walked into the old building and climbed up the dimly-lit, creaky, wooden staircase that led into the friendly and bright studio, filled with sunlight and all sorts of paraphernalia.
Leza has had her own studio for over 20 years now, and, surrounded by her own tools and paraphernalia, looks back on a long and exciting career in her field.
I visited her in her studio in the trendy suburb of Linden in Johannesburg to create photographs for an article for FujiLove Magazine that I was commissioned for, when she shared some career highlights with me.
Her 5-year apprenticeship, which she applied for in an interview just a block away from where her studio is today, exposed her to all the disciplines and practices that she needed to acquire and laid the foundation for her multi-faceted career.
Today, she turns any of her clients’ dreams into beautiful jewellery and is particularly fond of working on intricate pieces that take a lot of time and attention to detail to bring to life.
One of the highlights and milestones she recounted excitedly, was her challenging herself in a project for which she created one ring a day, for a year. “That was mad”, she said and laughed out loud, “some days were easy and fun, others hard, demanding, scary and testing. It was the most amazing experience though”. The project “One a day. A journey by Leza McLeod to rediscover the lost continent of my creativity” ended in an exhibition in which all 365 pieces that she had created were showcased and went up for sale.
Leza was always grateful and felt extremely lucky for having had not one but two journeymen that passed on so much of their knowledge during her apprenticeship and equipped her to run a successful business. It inspired her to open Elemental Jewellery School in 2006 to fulfilled the long-standing dream of passing on her knowledge and help people explore their own creativity.
“Teaching others is a wonderful and rewarding experience”, she explained. “To watch students adopt what you have taught them is interesting, yet a little testing at times. I often have to stop myself from wanting to finish off a student’s piece when they turn to me for help”, she added jokingly.
This year marks a new beginning for Leza. She has enrolled in a course to learn the art of pottery making, an art form that she has been fascinated by for the longest time, and now in a position to embark on. Filled with excitement about this new path that is about to unfold, she also hopes that she will be able to draw new enthusiasm and inspiration for her craft from it.
If you would like to get in contact with Leza, please check out her website.
To read the article I wrote for FujiLove Magazine, please click here.
[The images in this article were shot on Fujifilm’s X-S10 and X-Pro3 loaded with the Film Simulation Recipe Fujicolor Pro400H by Fuji X Weekly and are all jpegs straight out of camera]