We are all familiar with a silver or gold ring, but Hanna Tommola takes rings to the level of a sculptural art form. These sinuous rings twist and wrap around the finger and look so elegant on the hand. These beautiful simple forms belie the skill that goes into creating them. Hanna is a highly skilled goldsmith and has developed a unique way of making rings. They start out by being cut from a thick flat sheet of silver or gold. This flat pattern flows from wide to narrow, and is then bent and twist ed into shape. This is further shaped by carving, filing away areas to bring out more contrast between thick and thin and removing any sharp corners. Then slowly the ring is smoothed into a high polish. Often the rings are set with precious stones; diamonds can be set into the thick walls of the ring or the walls of the ring can wrap around and hold larger stones.
The shape of the curls of birch tree bark were the starting point for the design of these rings, and she calls them tuohi, the Finnish for birch tree bark
Hanna, who is from Finland, came to Ireland on a holiday about sixteen years ago after graduating in fashion and dressmaking. She stayed in Ireland since then and has continued to follow a creative path, studying jewellery making in St John’s College in Cork and then on the Jewellery and Goldsmithing Skills and Design Course in Kilkenny. The shape and form of these rings originate from her childhood in Finland. Happy times spent in the woods with her grandfather harvesting the bark from birch trees and using the bark to make many everyday things such as toys, bags, and various containers. The shape of the curls of birch tree bark were the starting point for the design of these rings, and she calls them tuohi, the Finnish for birch tree bark. Her dressmaking background informed how the metal could be ‘draped’ on the finger and drawing on her goldsmithing skills she was able to form the three-dimensional rings.
Hanna’s design ethos is an interesting cross between Finnish design and Irish design. While much of her design inspiration is Nordic and originates from her happy childhood exploring in the woods, the goldsmithing skills she uses are the skills she learned in Ireland. Hanna set up her own business about three years ago. She has just moved into a new studio on MacCurtain Street in Cork city. Hanna welcomes visitors to her studio and many of her unique rings are made to commission.
Séamus Gill is a silversmith and jeweller and a member of the Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin.