Dawn Cheung is a third-year student in the Jewellery Arts program at George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario, where she is learning to become a well-rounded goldsmith and artist. A frequent traveler to Asia, particularly Japan, she has an affinity for anime and high-quality simple conveniences. Inspired by her love of food, Dawn creates cute and whimsical designs to evoke nostalgic attachment to designs aimed to brighten people’s everyday lives. Her current work features a series of pieces based on octopus tentacles inspired by a journey from the sea to the grill.
Tell us about your work:
My jewelry pieces are a reflection of my love for the organic shapes and textures found in the natural world. Using forging and hydraulic press techniques, I transform precious metals and semi-precious gems into unique forms filled with tactile and visual pleasure. As an artist of Asian heritage, I also incorporate handmade knotted earrings into my collection, paying homage to this traditional artform.
How did you start your metalsmithing/materialsmithing/adornment journey?
I have two younger sisters that demand for handmade accessories and I started on this rabbit hole because of them, and keep enjoying making things for myself and others.
How does your identity relate to your work? If at all?
I find that part of my Asian heritage is reflected in my work, but many times my gut helps me decide too with several food related pieces.
I am a person of colour, someone usually regarded as someone to be seen but not heard, and often overlooked as a quiet hardworking busy bee. I’ve had to become a little louder with my pieces to have presence and start a conversation.
What are the main concepts in your work?
I try to remember to incorporate heavily fun in making a piece, and if I can include a hidden story that is light and often engaging.
Can you share a bit about your conceptual development?
Often I am playing with plasticine, to warm up my fingertips and smush it into a form without regard to metal’s limitations, and then figure how I can translate into a metal piece. Many times, I’d have to experiment with models and repeat until a desired ends.
How do you take a break and reset?
Whenever I become hungry is an indicator to take a break.
What is your favorite tool, material, or process?
Hammers, sterling silver/gold, Forging, and hydraulic press
What is something no one has ever asked you that you would like to answer?
Why make food jewellery? Because we need to remember to eat snacks and be happy.
What do you want to see in the field in order for it be more supportive?
Have a fun group of like-minded people gather and chat about what joy and fun opportunities there is to explore, too many times people gate-keep information and limit access to select few.
*** All interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity