Number 8 wire has plenty of practical applications ... but as an accessory? Surprisingly, it works, as designer Sally Frewin proves with the Fix-8 bangle.
Made from No.8 fencing wire, she's turned a symbol of Kiwi ingenuity into a fashion statement. Fix-8 bangles are available in a range of sizes and finishes, including silver, copper and brushed metal, with an RRP of $35.
We asked her about the thinking behind the idea, her favourite jewellery designers and how good old fashioned DIY thinking continues to inform our culture. (Plus scroll to the end for details on how to win one for yourself.)
What was the ‘aha’ moment?
It was about three years ago (that’s how long it’s taken me to get over my fear of failure!). I wanted to create a contemporary piece of Kiwi jewellery that embodied our number 8-wire mentality. Phrases like “Number 8-wire mentality”, “Kiwi ingenuity” and “can-do attitude” are such a part of our unique, Kiwi vernacular and I wanted to harness that.
It occurred to me that it would be great to be able to wear a fun piece of jewellery that symbolised our famous Kiwi can-do attitude, and what better way to do that than with number 8 wire itself! The double loops hang like the figure 8, which is also an auspicious number and also the symbol for infinity.
I’ve had great feedback from Kiwis, who get the idea immediately and smile (I love that moment!), and intrigued looks from tourists who wonder what they’re about.
Any plans to expand the range further?
Yes! I’m currently making different sizes to help cater to the different wrist sizes out there - ranging from young children through to men. There will be single bangles available for men, rather than the double “8” loop, as apparently they don’t like to ‘jingle’ like the double loops do!
I’m keen to create some limited edition colours to offer more variety too, starting with red, my favourite colour! The brain is ticking over with some ideas for other pieces using no. 8 wire too. It’s a tough medium to work with, but I like a challenge and that’s all in keeping with my own ‘can do’ attitude.
Who are your favourite Kiwi jewellery designers?
There are so many…this country is full of clever people creating incredible things. I love jewellery that is inspired by things in everyday life like Julia Marin’s oyster skin and Pohutukawa rings, Jonathan Hopcroft’s cuffs that look like tins and I’ve got my eye on Genevieve Packer’s “choice” brooch. It's a fun piece of conversational jewellery that also embodies Kiwi spirit.
What is your most treasured piece of jewellery?
I love fun jewellery that doesn’t take itself too seriously and also pieces that are associated with great memories. Sadly I lost one of my favourites – a stainless steel ring by Warwick Edgington. I bought one for me and one for a close friend and she still has hers!
I don’t have a lot of expensive jewellery. Some of my favourite pieces are costume items that I’ve bought on a whim. Two favourites are a necklace with a sterling silver bird that symbolises freedom and a wonderful beaded necklace made especially for me by my kids.
What was the last problem you solved using some good old fashioned Kiwi ingenuity?
Years ago my old car broke down in the middle of nowhere and we managed to get it going again using a toilet roll as a replacement tube. It ran like a dream like that for years afterwards. I felt like MacGyver!
As busy people juggling busy lives, I reckon we all use ingenuity on a daily basis just to get through the day, I know I sure do! Perhaps not in the traditional sense of fixing stuff with number 8-wire like our predecessors, but the modern day equivalent. I like to think that for people wearing my Fix-8 bangles, they can see them as a symbol of their own 'can-do' attitude and it can remind them to smile and stay positive.