Discovering jewellery design as a career was a revelation for me. Something I encountered first through attending an informal silver jewellery workshop. I found working with metal and working with my hands was something I loved and was good at. It came at the perfect moment for me, I was looking for a career change and a new challenge and I took full advantage, signing up first to complete an Art Foundation Course then going on to complete a Bachelor of Arts in silversmithing/jewellery and finally 10 years later going back to complete a Masters. I have been a studio jeweller now for over 17 yrs and have been fortunate to have sold and exhibited my work nationally and internationally.
I think because of how my career began I’ve always had a strong connection to hand making and using traditional hand skills, they’re a major part of my creative practice and one of the reasons I enjoy doing what I do. I also have a love of nature and natural form; this theme has been present constantly in my work. I am lucky to live in a rural location in the East Midlands so am surrounded by farm and woodland. Lichens seemed a natural choice for inspiration as when you start to look, you see them growing literally everywhere, and when you get closer and pay attention to the detail within the tiny forms and the often bright varied colours, they are beautiful. My initial interest was visual as a designer but as part of my MA I wanted to add more depth to my research, so I began to read more about their natural functions and chemical structures, and how their chemical compounds are used in cosmetics, science and in space and medical research as well as pollution indicators for air quality and heavy metal pollution. The more I found out the more fascinated I became. I still add elements of chemical structures to some of my designs as a nod to their scientific value.
When I’m creating a new piece of jewellery, it usually begins with me looking through design sheets of lichen forms and patterns that I’ve built up over the years from photographs and drawings of lichens in situ. I trace these elements onto paper and play around with working them into different compositions; once I am happy with the overall form I transfer the individual sections as templates onto silver sheet ready for piercing. I spend a lot of time hand piercing out lichen forms which I find very therapeutic and mindful. I fall into a rhythm with the saw as it moves around the silver, almost like I’m drawing with the blade, and when I layer up lots of these elements together the overall effect is very satisfying. I have recently begun to add more gemstones into my designs and am enjoying the different aspect these add to my work. I use a variety of materials in my designs depending on the type of collection I’m creating. My main love is silver, simply because it’s so beautiful to work with, but sometimes a design demands different qualities or finishes and then I look at other options such as thin steel sheet which is incredibly strong and can be hand sawn and heat treated, or base metals such as brass or copper which can be patinated or sprayed in layered colours with acrylic paints. Depending on the piece and my final vision for it I relish experimenting with materials, forms and colours. My jewellery is intuitive and sculptural in nature, with most pieces being either one off or limited edition. Because of this they are designed to sit together and complement each other whilst still being unique and individual.