Coat of Arms

Walraven baron van Heeckeren,

was born in: Eindhoven,

the Netherlands,

in 1944.


During his childhood, his first formal craft training was a present from his Grandmother, who sent him to a ceramics factory, where he was taught to throw pots on a wheel. Barely able to reach the flywheel with his feet, he managed to make a piggy bank from a bowl folded double. He practised at home using an old wind up gramophone for a wheel. During his grade school years, he was taught woodcarving, embroidery, sewing and knitting. Living on a Seagoing Dutch Tjalk, a sailing vessel of 70 Ton, he learned fancy rope work, knotting and tatting. His parents and their seven offspring moved around the world with the Shell oil company, taking Wal to many foreign lands. While in Venezuela, Wal was exposed to aluminium forming and low relief embossing, as well as working part time for an Italian potter.

In 1963, Wal took a jewelry course at high school, working in silver, brass, and ebony, which won him a number of awards. It was this course which caused him to enroll in a four year course at the Rochester Institute of Technology's School for American Craftsmen, from which he received an associates degree in applied science and a bachelors degree in fine arts, majoring in Silver & Gold Smithing. His teacher was a Danish silversmith named Hans Christensen. Besides being a superb technician, Hans was always willing to encourage experimental design, provided the student felt strongly enough about it.

Upon Graduation in 1968, Wal moved to Australia in August 1968, where he worked for Angus and Coote for the first three months, and then went freelance. During those first three months a small group of Laurel Gorn's class toured the Angus and Coote factory, and one of these students, Andree Schilizzi, stopped to talk to Wal. One thing led to another and Wal was asked to set up classes. In February 1969 the School for SilverSmiths opened it's doors for the first time, in a small ex-printing factory.

In 1970 Wal opened a shop in the Argyle Arts Centre, in "the Rocks" in Sydney Australia. Where he plied his trade for 7 years, all the while continuing his teaching at the School for Silversmiths.

After 20 years at the ex printing factory Wal moved his School and workshop to Alexandria, where He stayed for 3 years. The building was sold and another move was undertaken. Wal's workshop is now at St.Peters, a suburb of inner Sydney.

The current workshop is shared by three craftsmen: W.van Heeckeren, Zure Chambers, and Caroline Merten. The name of the workshop is Smith, Smith, and Smith. This name was arrived at because: "we didn't want one person's name at the top of the list, and we are after all, Smiths!".

Now in April 2002, I have moved the workshop once again, hopefully for the last time, to New Italy, which is on the Northern coast of New South Wales. A beautiful area of the state, 12 Km to the beach, and not more than 30 Km to the nearest city.