What first inspired you to become a jewellery designer? How did you learn how to do what you do?
I’ve always been a designer. Originally I trained in textiles, but over the years I have also worked as a graphic designer, a social documentary photographer and a book binder!! When my children left home I decided to take time out and returned to college to study design crafts. It took me a while to realize that I wanted to make jewellery, but once I’d made my first few pieces I was ‘hooked’!! Now I can’t imagine making anything else.
What items do you mainly make?
All of my collections feature pendants, earrings and studs as well as a ‘statement’ piece – usually a necklace. Some of my earlier ranges also include rings and brooches.
What kind of materials do you use?
I mostly work with silver, adding various carats of gold for colour and detail. Some of my work is gilded with 22ct gold. Other pieces use an ancient Korean technique called Keum Boo, which sees pure gold foil burnished onto the silver to produce a permanent bond. I frequently oxidise silver to either produce an aged effect or to dramatically contrast it against gold.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My work has always been influenced by ‘found objects’. Although I live in ‘landlocked Herefordshire’ I’m a beachcombing ‘addict’. Both of my current collections reflect this in differing ways. The Timeworn ranges are centred around the ways in which surfaces change, often dramatically, when subjected to the elements, whilst the Shoreline collection focuses on the more subtle textures and shapes of beachcombing finds.
What is your design process?
I have a set of shelves in my studio filled with found objects which form the inspiration for new work. The actual design process tends to start with experimenting with surface textures. Once I’m happy with the surface patterning I’ll begin to draw out ideas although the final design tends to come together during the actual making process.
What have been some of your favourite jewellery pieces you’ve created and why?
My all time favorite has to be the multilink necklace and bracelet from the ‘Corrosion’ range. The design originated from some rusting discs of metal I picked up off a beach some years ago. The finished designs are not only striking pieces visually, but also have an amazing tactile quality.
Could you describe the woman who wears your jewellery? Who is your ideal customer?
I am always surprised by the age range and type of woman my work seems to appeal to. I am equally as likely to sell work as a 21st birthday present as to someone buying a retirement gift. My ideal customers have to be those who buy a piece, love it and return to buy more.
Is there one piece in your collection that you think every woman should have?
This changes with every new collection, but at the moment I would say any one of the pieces from the ‘Sea Washed’ range. They’re simple and can be worn for just about any occasion.
What are you working on now? Do you have any new projects?
I tend to design new ranges during the quieter months of the year. January through to March usually sees me working on new ideas and experimenting with new textures. I try to add new pieces to existing ranges throughout the year so that I can ‘freshen up’ gallery displays. I have been designing around the Shoreline theme for a few years now so ideally I’d like to move my work in a new direction in the very near future. Although I’m not 100% sure what this direction will be there seems to be a new collection of found objects taking shape on my workshop shelves.
How do you think contemporary jewellery is going to develop?
With the ever increasing price of precious metals I think an obvious development will be an increasing use of alternative materials. This already becoming evident with more makers using textile materials, plastics, wood and paper to produce innovative work.