Open Fire Jewellery - Fran

Open Fire Jewellery - Fran

Open Fire Jewellery

Owner: Fran Miles

Interview + Photography: Marianne Rothbauer, Rothbauer Studio

Photography  @rothbauerphoto

Photography @rothbauerphoto

Tell us about yourself.

Open Fire was created in 2015 when I decided to do something with my creative energy that at the time was not being utilized in the way I knew it could. I have loved jewellery since I was little, always appreciating the symbolism it carries. Being on the other side of the jewellery exchange has been so rewarding, knowing that customers are walking away with a piece that represents something special to them. I never dreamt I'd own a small business, but now that I'm here I know there is no other way I should spend my days. Open Fire does not seem like a job to me, it feels like a personal art project I just so happen to work at everyday. I have freedom in this craft and it has opened up my world and creativity in ways I never knew were possible. I work from my home studio in Centretown, and I love being a part of the maker movement here in Ottawa!


What inspires you and your work ?

I am inspired by the process! Knowing that I can have an idea and have that materialized by the end of the day is an amazing to me. Seeing how the metal changes from raw wire, to soldered and burnt to perfectly polished is very satisfying to see. I've been infatuated with gemstones for over five years. There are so many stones out there its amazing, I really enjoy sharing my love and knowledge of them. A few years ago someone told me they thought of gemstones as "flowers of the underworld" and I agree.


What is your favourite material to work with and why ?

Sterling Silver is my favourite material to work with because of the freedom to manipulate the metal. I can reverse solder joints and melt down the silver to make unique details which I really love to do. I've recently started working with solid 14k gold,  and I love the warmth and longevity of this metal.

How did you get started?

After graduating from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2012, I began working for a fine jewellery and gemstone shop in the ByWard Market. I became obsessed with gemstones, specifically in their raw formation and loved knowing the spiritual properties gems historically represent. I started to think about metal smithing from admiring handmade work and decided to learn basic silversmithing techniques from a local Ottawa goldsmith. Together we made a claw set pair of raw Emerald studs, and the rest is history! I jumped in and invested in a home studio; when I started to make and share my work, local boutiques like Boogie and Birdie & JV Studios reached out immediately. The support I have received since starting Open Fire in 2015 has been incredible.


What is your favourite work/piece of jewellery to date?

From the countless pieces of jewellery I've made, I don't think I have a favourite! Right now I'm working with a stone called Super Seven Quartz, a stone made up of over seven minerals- it is beyond stunning and is my favourite stone I've worked with so far! I especially love when I am lucky enough to be asked to make jewellery for an engagement, birthdays or as a token of remembrance.

If you could design a piece for a celebrity, who would it be for and what would you create?

Ever since my art school days I've been inspired by the bravery and determination of performance artist Marina Abramovic. I'd make her a big statement ring with a Moldavite gem (a variety of meteorite), this stone is said to bring profound spiritual awakening (not that she needs it)!


Tell us a bit about your work process.

I start each piece by selecting whatever stone I am gravitating toward that day. From there I'll cut coiled metal wire into the proper measurements for what I'm making. Then it's a patient process of shaping and soldering metals, acid baths, setting stones, and several rounds of polishing and filing. I usually have a few pieces on the go at one time which I love because of the meditative state it can bring.

What was your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement so far is that I'm still in business! I made it! I'm lucky enough to be able to create full time which is something I sit back in awe of everyday.

Coffee or tea in the city and where ?

I like to hang out at Bridgehead Coffee with a lemongrass tea while I do local jewellery pick ups! It's a fun way to meet customers :)


How do you unwind at the end of the day?

My favourite way to unwind after a long day of making jewels is hanging out with my new furry pal, Tance! His happy company has helped bring some balance into this crazy small business life of mine.

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