Meet Anna, silversmith
The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Anna Tillas and I make silver jewellery.
Agat Silver is the name of my company, where "ag" is the chemical name for silver and "at" are my initials.
I live with my husband and my cat in a small red cottage in the countryside, where I spend a lot of time in my garden which I love. There I gather energy and get new ideas.
Why and when did you start metal working?
I have always been doing crafts of various kinds. Everything from crochet and knitting to mosaics and ceramics. When I tried silversmithing, I felt that I had found home.
It started about 20 years ago with me taking a weekend course for beginners. We were taught the basics of silver-smithing; saw, file, solder, and immediately felt that I was in my element. Bought a few books on silver-smithing and realized that I had only scratched the surface and had a lot left to learn.
I set up a corner of the house into a primitive workshop. I didn't have the "right" tools but used what I had at home - torches, regular pliers, a saw that was actually for wood, used the pasta machine as a roller (which worked surprisingly well, as long as the silver was properly annealed) and the target stick in croquet as a ring mandrel. Over time, I acquired better tools and more knowledge.
By chance, after a few years of home hobby-forging, I was invited to fill some space at an art exhibition - I accepted because I have a hard time saying no to things that sound fun. The response was good. I understood that people actually wanted to pay to wear my jewelry. I continued on a hobby level for about another 10 years, and sold jewelry to friends and acquaintances and started participating in markets and exhibitions.
2018 was a turning point - the company I work at reorganized, and my position moved to Denmark. I got the opportunity to stop and think about what it was I really wanted to do. So, I enrolled at Folkuniversitetet - Silversmithing. It was a great year where I learned a lot, and where I met my future colleagues with whom I later bought a workshop.
We took over an existing workshop, which we named MAKE Silverstudio. Since then, I work almost full-time with my own company Agat Silver.
In 2021, I joined the arts and crafts cooperative "125 Kvadrat" at Medborgarplatsen. And you can also buy my jewelry at the National Museum's gift shop.
What excites you and how do you incorporate that into your work?
I offer personalized handmade silver jewelry for a quality-conscious customer. Jewelry that stands out without being difficult to wear, feels up to date without following fads and can withstand daily wear.
I am not afraid to take up space and believe that jewelry should also be allowed to do so. I think jewelry should say something about the wearer.
I have a vivid imagination and can't help but make jewelry that is a little quirky. For example, I have made jewelry with coffee cups, luminescent jewelry, jewelry with tanned zander skin, cats hanging from chains, mechanical jewelry, etc.
What are you currently working on?
At the moment, I'm working on expanding the Patera, Sophera and Margarita collections with some new designs for the exhibition weekend "Konstringen på Mälaröarna" where I have been taking part for the past 13 years.
If I get a little time to spare, my workbench invites me to create something new. I never know where it takes me and that's what makes it so fun.
What advice would you give to an artist in hiding?
- Go where your curiosity takes you. You don't always have to have a set goal and follow your plans, Life happens as it happens, and it usually turns out well. If someone had asked me 10 years ago where I would be today, I would not have answered that I would be a silversmith.
- It's never too late! I was 54 when I decided to invest in life as a jeweler and feel that I have many professional years ahead of me.
- How hard can it be? I knew nothing about starting a business, doing bookkeeping, building a website, etc. I can't say that I know everything now either, but I know enough to function. It's not rocket science, and help can be found.
What is your fav piece and why?
The jewel in the crown is the Patera collection; necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings. For me, those pieces of jewellery are always fun to make because I don't know in advance how they will turn out.
The Patera jewellery consists of small bowls in different sizes that I put together as I see fit, in a way that feels good. Finally, I oxidise the inside of the bowls. No pieces are exactly alike - just as it should be.