Featured Artist - Bentwood ring designer Zac Conway
Posted on 08 May 2016
Q. Tell us how you started your business and why?
A. Byron bound began as a bespoke bookbindery with the goal of creating 100% sustainable goods from the finest Australian materials that are designed to last the test of time. In a complex market filled with mass produced, expensive, and low quality products, there was a market for high quality goods, and here Byron bound found its place.
After several years I began creating Bentwood rings out of reclaimed locally sourced timber. These rings are created with the same values which are held in my business model and have found their way into hundreds of wedding ceremonies all over the world. Jewellery design is something I find holds endless possibilities for me as a designer and will gladly explore the possibilities for many years to come.
Q. What is your favourite product and why?
A. My favourite timber breed to use in jewellery design is Mahogany. It has a beautiful rich and deep grain and colour which shimmers in the light. My all time favourite design is the Turquoise crystal inlay in a mahogany ring. Created from beautiful specimens of turquoise, carefully crushed and filled into a narrow channel, delicately carved into the ring. I mix the crystal shards with a luminescent powder so that the ring absorbs light during the day, and then emits a curious glow, illuminating the Turquoise at night. A stunning piece that I wear every day gladly, and the ring which I receive the most comments about.
Q. What is special and unique about your products?
A. There are less than a handful of Bentwood ring designers in Australia, and I take quite a lot of care to shape and form the profiles of each ring, beyond that which other designers do. I strive to create completely unique designs which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. When crafted from local materials and completely by hand, each ring is one of a kind and a treasure.
Q. Why did you choose these particular wood breeds?
A. Over time I have tested many different breeds of timber, and find that finely and straight grained exotic hardwoods create the strongest and most stunning rings. Very thin veneers are milled from reclaimed specimens, soaked and coiled. Timber is curious and a living thing, it expands and contracts while interacting with its environment, and once coiled and dried, the fibres retain the coiled shape, which now becomes its relaxed state. Once coiled and dried the rings are glued and carefully shaped and carved. With these unique hardwoods, the rings become insanely strong, with the concentric layers allowing the grain to run the full continuous circumference. These rings are so strong, its almost impossible to crush them between your fingers.
Q. What do you love about your job?
A. The creative freedom which comes from being a designer allows me to constantly push the limit of my abilities. The thrill of it for me is finding inspiration from the local area, creating a design in my minds eye, and then being able to turn it into a tangible thing. I will never tire of the process and am always trying to learn new skills in the pursuit of self improvement and happiness.
Q. What is new for Byron bound over the next twelve months?
A. Over the next twelve months I will be gearing more towards high end goods instead of lower tier products. The most enjoyable part of Byron bound for me is working with a client to produce something unique and new which has not been done before. It is these commissions which I will be moving more towards in the future in the fields of jewellery design and book art.
Q. Where is your favourite place to go in Byron bay?
A. Byron bay is my home and always will be my home at heart. With a life of happiness in the waves and down the beach I have found one special place. On the furthest point of Wategoes the is just one rock outcropping which stands out, there is a perfect natural seat eroded away which I enjoy sitting upon and gazing out over the ocean towards Julian Rocks and the north coast beyond. When in this spot there is a thrill to know you are the most eastern person on land in the entire island of Australia, very humbling and a perfect place to stop and think and be grateful.
Q. What is your favourite time of year in the shire?
A. Autumn time holds great virtue to me, with crystal clear azure skies and clear and green horizons of rolling hills. The stunning caldera we live in has a power and magic to it, with lush rainforests a stones throw away from some of the best waves in the world. Autumn time presents the best waves the world has to offer and each year we surf for up to three months straight every single day. Truly we are very very lucky to live in this place and Autumn time to me is when the shire comes alive from the roots and shows its true colours.
Q. Sum up your products in five words?
A. Rustic, Sustainable, Unique, Natural, Magical