Makers' Stories

Do you want to discover the makers' stories behind the products? Read our Goldsmiths' Shop Talent blog. 

Makila Nsika on her Congo-inspired collection "Sand and Fire"

Posted by Rae Gellel on

The idea that art is capable of traversing time, distance and space first occurred to Makila Nsika when she was studying literature at Sorbonne University in France. This concept caused her to ponder the deep connections sometimes forged between writers and their readers. After settling in the UK, Makila began to consider how similar connections could be created using more physical art forms.

Frequently travelling from the UK to her country of birth the Republic of Congo, Makila would speak to Congolese artists and craftspeople. These creatives told her about the fading African tradition of jewellery making, urging Makila to help revive the tradition. Entering a phase of introspection, Makila emerged ready to explore jewellery making, starting her journey with a part-time jewellery course at City Lit.


Under the brand name M.Kala, Makila’s first fine jewellery collection, Sand and Fire, has debuted at Shine 2021, the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s annual showcase of new talent. Whilst the collection was conceived and crafted in Makila’s workshop in Hackney, London, it is a portal to a continent over 5000 miles away. Sand and Fire is an homage to the expansive, complicated and sometimes maligned history of Africa, as well as its rich cultures and Makila’s own relationship with her homeland.

“Jewellery connects us to a place of time, it carries a lot of emotions and can incorporate a lot of different materials,” she explained in a recent interview with the Goldsmiths’ Centre.

“In the past 10 years, I've been revisiting my country, showing it to my children and visiting my dad. I spent a lot of time with artists and artisans there, and through discussions with them, and looking around, I was really sad to see that our craft was disappearing. That inspired me to engage with jewellery making and learn more about it.

The materials used in Sand and Fire are a direct reference to the history of both pre- and post-colonial Africa. In particular, the use of Ghanian recycled-glass beads, are evocative of a time when such beads were considered rare and precious in the region, even used for trade or as a currency. “I wanted to feature some different materials, non-precious materials, that had a special meaning in the history of not only my country, but the history of the continent.”

Makila uses these beads sparingly throughout her pieces, as if they were precious stones and still as valuable today as when her ancestors used them. “By combining the beads with precious metal, I hope to enhance their intrinsic value, which has disappeared in the modern day. In spite of this, beads are still very loved, and are used as adornment in the Western part of Africa and other areas as well. They are beautiful.”

Symbols, shapes and patterns associated with African culture also feature frequently in Sand and Fire; the result of Makila pouring over images of traditional art and textiles for inspiration, before refining her designs through hands-on experimentation.

“It’s very instinctive. I look at images of African patterns, and then I go straight to the metal and play around, working with my hands. When I feel I have played enough, I move onto paper, drawing and designing, defining the images and ideas in my head. Then I move onto making the piece. Playing around as well with the metal directly is very important, because it shows what kind of technical difficulties I may face. When transforming a vision into a real thing, there are a lot of hidden little difficulties that you discover on the way.”

This creative process has culminated in striking pieces such as the Kala Choker, a statement necklace in sterling silver that is reminiscent of African textile designs in its use of repetitive, geometric shapes. “I am very proud of the choker, because of the difficulty involved in making it, but also because it is very tactile and sits very nicely on the root of the neck”, she said of the piece. Makila identifies it as among her favourite in the collection.
“I use very simple shapes like diamonds and triangles. I repeat those shapes, because I am influenced by and really like the patterns that we see in textiles and sculptures not only in the Congo area but around other parts of Africa, as well. Those shapes are heavy with symbols traditionally, but I also like just the simplicity of it and repetitiveness of the patterns.”

The texture of the individual, geometric segments that make up pieces like the Kala Choker area are also grainy, rough to the touch, shining gently under light. This texturing is intentional, aiming to resemble the feel and appearance of sand, corresponding to the collection’s second major theme, and of course, its title.

“The collection is called Sand and Fire. Sand, because I'm featuring glass beads made in Ghana by artisans there, and glass is made of sand and heat, so that’s where the second word, fire, comes from, and fire is a very big part of jewellery making, in terms of soldering for example.”

Working with fire is often precarious and challenging, requiring a delicate hand. Makila approached the process stubbornly, determined to realise her visions even if it required considerable trial and error.

“Because I was using glass beads, I had to be sure I could use the glass under the heat. I had to do a lot of testing to start with - because if you put a glass bead under a direct flame, it will simply explode and not do what you want! I had to learn to gently apply and then cease the heat slowly. Each time I needed to melt the tips of the wire to join a piece, there was always the possibility that I could melt the whole piece. It was quite terrifying at times.”

Richly layered and deeply personal, Sand and Fire is a collection about attachment and connection - an attempt to close gaps between cultures and join the past and present through the medium of jewellery. It is an impressive debut and just a glimpse of what is to come from this unique, multi-cultural maker.

“Being a maker is very exciting. I love having ideas, and giving birth to those ideas - the process of creating pieces, taking an image you have in your mind and creating it. It’s very satisfying.”

Read more

Makila Nsika on her Congo-inspired collection "Sand and Fire"

Posted by Rae Gellel on

The idea that art is capable of traversing time, distance and space first occurred to Makila Nsika when she was studying literature at Sorbonne University in France. This concept caused her to ponder the deep connections sometimes forged between writers and their readers. After settling in the UK, Makila began to consider how similar connections could be created using more physical art forms.

Frequently travelling from the UK to her country of birth the Republic of Congo, Makila would speak to Congolese artists and craftspeople. These creatives told her about the fading African tradition of jewellery making, urging Makila to help revive the tradition. Entering a phase of introspection, Makila emerged ready to explore jewellery making, starting her journey with a part-time jewellery course at City Lit.


Under the brand name M.Kala, Makila’s first fine jewellery collection, Sand and Fire, has debuted at Shine 2021, the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s annual showcase of new talent. Whilst the collection was conceived and crafted in Makila’s workshop in Hackney, London, it is a portal to a continent over 5000 miles away. Sand and Fire is an homage to the expansive, complicated and sometimes maligned history of Africa, as well as its rich cultures and Makila’s own relationship with her homeland.

“Jewellery connects us to a place of time, it carries a lot of emotions and can incorporate a lot of different materials,” she explained in a recent interview with the Goldsmiths’ Centre.

“In the past 10 years, I've been revisiting my country, showing it to my children and visiting my dad. I spent a lot of time with artists and artisans there, and through discussions with them, and looking around, I was really sad to see that our craft was disappearing. That inspired me to engage with jewellery making and learn more about it.

The materials used in Sand and Fire are a direct reference to the history of both pre- and post-colonial Africa. In particular, the use of Ghanian recycled-glass beads, are evocative of a time when such beads were considered rare and precious in the region, even used for trade or as a currency. “I wanted to feature some different materials, non-precious materials, that had a special meaning in the history of not only my country, but the history of the continent.”

Makila uses these beads sparingly throughout her pieces, as if they were precious stones and still as valuable today as when her ancestors used them. “By combining the beads with precious metal, I hope to enhance their intrinsic value, which has disappeared in the modern day. In spite of this, beads are still very loved, and are used as adornment in the Western part of Africa and other areas as well. They are beautiful.”

Symbols, shapes and patterns associated with African culture also feature frequently in Sand and Fire; the result of Makila pouring over images of traditional art and textiles for inspiration, before refining her designs through hands-on experimentation.

“It’s very instinctive. I look at images of African patterns, and then I go straight to the metal and play around, working with my hands. When I feel I have played enough, I move onto paper, drawing and designing, defining the images and ideas in my head. Then I move onto making the piece. Playing around as well with the metal directly is very important, because it shows what kind of technical difficulties I may face. When transforming a vision into a real thing, there are a lot of hidden little difficulties that you discover on the way.”

This creative process has culminated in striking pieces such as the Kala Choker, a statement necklace in sterling silver that is reminiscent of African textile designs in its use of repetitive, geometric shapes. “I am very proud of the choker, because of the difficulty involved in making it, but also because it is very tactile and sits very nicely on the root of the neck”, she said of the piece. Makila identifies it as among her favourite in the collection.
“I use very simple shapes like diamonds and triangles. I repeat those shapes, because I am influenced by and really like the patterns that we see in textiles and sculptures not only in the Congo area but around other parts of Africa, as well. Those shapes are heavy with symbols traditionally, but I also like just the simplicity of it and repetitiveness of the patterns.”

The texture of the individual, geometric segments that make up pieces like the Kala Choker area are also grainy, rough to the touch, shining gently under light. This texturing is intentional, aiming to resemble the feel and appearance of sand, corresponding to the collection’s second major theme, and of course, its title.

“The collection is called Sand and Fire. Sand, because I'm featuring glass beads made in Ghana by artisans there, and glass is made of sand and heat, so that’s where the second word, fire, comes from, and fire is a very big part of jewellery making, in terms of soldering for example.”

Working with fire is often precarious and challenging, requiring a delicate hand. Makila approached the process stubbornly, determined to realise her visions even if it required considerable trial and error.

“Because I was using glass beads, I had to be sure I could use the glass under the heat. I had to do a lot of testing to start with - because if you put a glass bead under a direct flame, it will simply explode and not do what you want! I had to learn to gently apply and then cease the heat slowly. Each time I needed to melt the tips of the wire to join a piece, there was always the possibility that I could melt the whole piece. It was quite terrifying at times.”

Richly layered and deeply personal, Sand and Fire is a collection about attachment and connection - an attempt to close gaps between cultures and join the past and present through the medium of jewellery. It is an impressive debut and just a glimpse of what is to come from this unique, multi-cultural maker.

“Being a maker is very exciting. I love having ideas, and giving birth to those ideas - the process of creating pieces, taking an image you have in your mind and creating it. It’s very satisfying.”

Read more


Italian-born jeweller Roberta Pederzoli inspired by Scotland’s “Enchanted Woods”

Posted by Rae Gellel on

Inspired by natural objects that are not typically considered beautiful, like lichen, roots and fungi, Italian-born designer-maker Roberta Pederzoli captures the imperfection of nature in her jewellery pieces, bestowing them with a fairy-tale-like elegance. Her latest fine jewellery collection, Enchanted Wood, is a triumph of juxtapositions that combines realism with fantasy, inspired by imagery from Scottish landscapes with the maker’s self-professed Italian sensibility. Roberta’s Enchanted Wood collection is currently featured in Shine 2021, the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s annual exhibition of new and upcoming talent.

“I like playing with texture, I like playing with colours, spreading the colour in uneven ways to mirror the imperfection of nature - which for me, is actually its beauty,” Roberta said in a recent interview with the Goldsmiths’ Centre, her voice teeming with passion. Rather than presenting a false, or idealised version of nature, Roberta’s jewellery aims to reproduce the spontaneous textures and colours that she has encountered in the Scottish wilderness, highlighting aspects of the landscape that might otherwise be overlooked.

Drop Lichen Earrings in 18ct Gold-Plated Silver by Roberta Pederzoli

“I particularly like putting polished areas next to rough areas, creating contrast. The technique I use when finishing my pieces, actually makes the piece realistic from one side, and from the other, like a fairy-tale object from an enchanted wood. I also might spread different nuances of colour, in gold, or black, by oxidizing the jewellery to create a particular kind of aesthetic.”

Roberta Pederzoli's source of jewellery inspiration - lichen on a tree

Although she has called Scotland her home for almost twenty-five years - drawing inspiration for her striking jewellery from walks through its ancient woodland - Roberta is assured that her Italian roots cannot be extracted from her artistry. She believes that all life experiences inform one’s creative process:

“I believe that the background of each person leaves an imprint on their work. I’m Italian, I’m inspired by the Scottish landscape, and I think my jewellery is a combination of an Italian aesthetic, combined with a Scottish inspiration. I think anyone who is an artist, who is creating, doesn’t live in a vacuum. They are a product of their background, experiences and cultural beliefs. Everyone starting with the same object of inspiration comes out with a different result."

18ct Gold-Plated Silver Earth and Fire Earrings by Roberta Pederzoli

Creativity is something that Roberta has come to consider as innate and instinctive, dredged from the periphery of the consciousness. Her theory is reinforced by the calling she felt towards the jewellery industry a few years ago:

“I was on holiday, playing in the park with my daughter, making necklaces and little crowns with daisies. I was really enjoying it, but I was very, very tired, and eventually fell asleep. When I woke up, I decided that I wanted to learn how to make jewellery. I think when we are really in tune with ourselves, that can happen. When you’re asleep, you can subconsciously have these realisations.”

Jewellery designer maker Roberta Pederzoli in her studio

Another memory that Roberta considers evidence of an early, yet-to-be-realised interest in metal, was of playing with a broken thermometer as a child. She adds a quick disclaimer, “I wouldn’t recommend it!”, before recounting the story;

“When the thermometer broke, I was secretly pleased and played with the lithosphere of mercury, joining it together and then separating it. I think that when we’re young, we probably know what we want to do, but we don’t always realise until later on.”

 Part Oxidised Sterling Silver Lichen Brooch by Roberta Pederzoli
While she did not realise her natural affinity for metal work until well into adulthood, Roberta doesn’t regret the time it took to get her there:

“It’s important to be in tune with yourself. I don’t regret how long it took for me to have this realisation, because I believe what I learned during my life before becoming a jewellery maker and designer is actually helping my career now, and helped me to become the person that I am today.”

Roberta Pederzoli working on her Enchanted Woods collection

When developing a new collection, Roberta’s creative process usually begins with long walks in the forests and parks of Scotland, immersing herself in nature:

“I go for walks and I observe. It's actually very mindful, that moment of inspiration, because you're completely focused in the present,” she explains. This is followed by the collecting of natural objects, taking photos, and a period of research, which she highlights as her favourite stage of all; “I love making but I think in particular, I like the initial stage, the research, when I’m just looking at things, exploring things.”

A crucial point in the development of one of Roberta’s collections is the creation of a single, statement piece, which often acts as the blueprint for the smaller pieces to follow. For Enchanted Wood, this took the form of two large necklaces. “My main piece is done at the beginning, usually a necklace - I love making big necklaces. I plan my collection around this central piece, so I might make some earrings or smaller necklaces, rings, everything is an extension of the main piece that I created in the first stage.”

Lichen Cascade 18ct Gold-Plated Silver Necklace by Roberta Pederzoli

These central pieces may be worked on for weeks, if not months, by the Italian maker, constantly being improved upon, and made more intricate. “I never stop creating or designing, revisiting my design just to add some technical elements which are maybe more precise. The design process is continuous, it never stops, so sometimes I will have a piece that I made several months ago, and I’ll keep slightly changing it, adapting it.”

Jeweller Roberta Pederzoli's studio and work bench

One of the reasons for this continual adjustment is a firm belief that each piece should be as comfortable to wear as possible; “I think jewellery needs to be comfortable. When I'm making a bigger necklace, I not only wear it, I ask several people to wear it and do daily life activities, because I think every piece of jewellery needs to be comfortable.”

Gold-Plated Sterling Silver Triangular Earrings by Roberta Pederzoli
During her time as a student studying a HND in Jewellery at Glasgow Kelvin College, Roberta took this a step further, developing a design for a necklace that was “almost indistinguishable from the clothing underneath”. This concept earned her a commendation in the Fashion Jewellery category at The Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council 2013 awards. In 2021, she would be recognised yet again at the awards, taking home Bronze for a medal espousing an environmentalist message about the threat of land erosion.

“I really enjoyed the process of making the medal because they are an extremely symbolic means of communication, the research stage was a huge part of the piece and was fantastic, really interesting.”

Handmade Sterling Silver Lichen Pendant on Chain by Roberta Pederzoli

As well as medal-making, Roberta is looking to continue exploring new areas in the future, such as developing a new precious metal collection and looking into the world of contemporary wedding jewellery.

From a flash of realisation that came to her one day whilst crafting daisy chains with her daughter in the park, Roberta has developed phenomenally as a maker, forming a signature style that is thematically rich and skillfully realised.

“I think it is a privilege to be a jewellery designer and maker, because jewellery is a very symbolic means of communication. We express a lot of things through jewellery - power, status. When we get married, we mark that with a ring. A piece of jewellery can be a very, very symbolic object. It's a beautiful feeling when you make a piece for a client, and you can see they are happy. It's a beautiful thing to be part of this process.”

Read more

Inspired by natural objects that are not typically considered beautiful, like lichen, roots and fungi, Italian-born designer-maker Roberta Pederzoli captures the imperfection of nature in her jewellery pieces, bestowing them with a fairy-tale-like elegance. Her latest fine jewellery collection, Enchanted Wood, is a triumph of juxtapositions that combines realism with fantasy, inspired by imagery from Scottish landscapes with the maker’s self-professed Italian sensibility. Roberta’s Enchanted Wood collection is currently featured in Shine 2021, the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s annual exhibition of new and upcoming talent.

“I like playing with texture, I like playing with colours, spreading the colour in uneven ways to mirror the imperfection of nature - which for me, is actually its beauty,” Roberta said in a recent interview with the Goldsmiths’ Centre, her voice teeming with passion. Rather than presenting a false, or idealised version of nature, Roberta’s jewellery aims to reproduce the spontaneous textures and colours that she has encountered in the Scottish wilderness, highlighting aspects of the landscape that might otherwise be overlooked.

Drop Lichen Earrings in 18ct Gold-Plated Silver by Roberta Pederzoli

“I particularly like putting polished areas next to rough areas, creating contrast. The technique I use when finishing my pieces, actually makes the piece realistic from one side, and from the other, like a fairy-tale object from an enchanted wood. I also might spread different nuances of colour, in gold, or black, by oxidizing the jewellery to create a particular kind of aesthetic.”

Roberta Pederzoli's source of jewellery inspiration - lichen on a tree

Although she has called Scotland her home for almost twenty-five years - drawing inspiration for her striking jewellery from walks through its ancient woodland - Roberta is assured that her Italian roots cannot be extracted from her artistry. She believes that all life experiences inform one’s creative process:

“I believe that the background of each person leaves an imprint on their work. I’m Italian, I’m inspired by the Scottish landscape, and I think my jewellery is a combination of an Italian aesthetic, combined with a Scottish inspiration. I think anyone who is an artist, who is creating, doesn’t live in a vacuum. They are a product of their background, experiences and cultural beliefs. Everyone starting with the same object of inspiration comes out with a different result."

18ct Gold-Plated Silver Earth and Fire Earrings by Roberta Pederzoli

Creativity is something that Roberta has come to consider as innate and instinctive, dredged from the periphery of the consciousness. Her theory is reinforced by the calling she felt towards the jewellery industry a few years ago:

“I was on holiday, playing in the park with my daughter, making necklaces and little crowns with daisies. I was really enjoying it, but I was very, very tired, and eventually fell asleep. When I woke up, I decided that I wanted to learn how to make jewellery. I think when we are really in tune with ourselves, that can happen. When you’re asleep, you can subconsciously have these realisations.”

Jewellery designer maker Roberta Pederzoli in her studio

Another memory that Roberta considers evidence of an early, yet-to-be-realised interest in metal, was of playing with a broken thermometer as a child. She adds a quick disclaimer, “I wouldn’t recommend it!”, before recounting the story;

“When the thermometer broke, I was secretly pleased and played with the lithosphere of mercury, joining it together and then separating it. I think that when we’re young, we probably know what we want to do, but we don’t always realise until later on.”

 Part Oxidised Sterling Silver Lichen Brooch by Roberta Pederzoli
While she did not realise her natural affinity for metal work until well into adulthood, Roberta doesn’t regret the time it took to get her there:

“It’s important to be in tune with yourself. I don’t regret how long it took for me to have this realisation, because I believe what I learned during my life before becoming a jewellery maker and designer is actually helping my career now, and helped me to become the person that I am today.”

Roberta Pederzoli working on her Enchanted Woods collection

When developing a new collection, Roberta’s creative process usually begins with long walks in the forests and parks of Scotland, immersing herself in nature:

“I go for walks and I observe. It's actually very mindful, that moment of inspiration, because you're completely focused in the present,” she explains. This is followed by the collecting of natural objects, taking photos, and a period of research, which she highlights as her favourite stage of all; “I love making but I think in particular, I like the initial stage, the research, when I’m just looking at things, exploring things.”

A crucial point in the development of one of Roberta’s collections is the creation of a single, statement piece, which often acts as the blueprint for the smaller pieces to follow. For Enchanted Wood, this took the form of two large necklaces. “My main piece is done at the beginning, usually a necklace - I love making big necklaces. I plan my collection around this central piece, so I might make some earrings or smaller necklaces, rings, everything is an extension of the main piece that I created in the first stage.”

Lichen Cascade 18ct Gold-Plated Silver Necklace by Roberta Pederzoli

These central pieces may be worked on for weeks, if not months, by the Italian maker, constantly being improved upon, and made more intricate. “I never stop creating or designing, revisiting my design just to add some technical elements which are maybe more precise. The design process is continuous, it never stops, so sometimes I will have a piece that I made several months ago, and I’ll keep slightly changing it, adapting it.”

Jeweller Roberta Pederzoli's studio and work bench

One of the reasons for this continual adjustment is a firm belief that each piece should be as comfortable to wear as possible; “I think jewellery needs to be comfortable. When I'm making a bigger necklace, I not only wear it, I ask several people to wear it and do daily life activities, because I think every piece of jewellery needs to be comfortable.”

Gold-Plated Sterling Silver Triangular Earrings by Roberta Pederzoli
During her time as a student studying a HND in Jewellery at Glasgow Kelvin College, Roberta took this a step further, developing a design for a necklace that was “almost indistinguishable from the clothing underneath”. This concept earned her a commendation in the Fashion Jewellery category at The Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council 2013 awards. In 2021, she would be recognised yet again at the awards, taking home Bronze for a medal espousing an environmentalist message about the threat of land erosion.

“I really enjoyed the process of making the medal because they are an extremely symbolic means of communication, the research stage was a huge part of the piece and was fantastic, really interesting.”

Handmade Sterling Silver Lichen Pendant on Chain by Roberta Pederzoli

As well as medal-making, Roberta is looking to continue exploring new areas in the future, such as developing a new precious metal collection and looking into the world of contemporary wedding jewellery.

From a flash of realisation that came to her one day whilst crafting daisy chains with her daughter in the park, Roberta has developed phenomenally as a maker, forming a signature style that is thematically rich and skillfully realised.

“I think it is a privilege to be a jewellery designer and maker, because jewellery is a very symbolic means of communication. We express a lot of things through jewellery - power, status. When we get married, we mark that with a ring. A piece of jewellery can be a very, very symbolic object. It's a beautiful feeling when you make a piece for a client, and you can see they are happy. It's a beautiful thing to be part of this process.”

Read more


Josephine Gomersall, silversmith and jeweller, on making fragile and precious botanical sculptures

Posted by Rae Gellel on

Using round wire, sheet metal and traditional tools and techniques, Sheffield-based silversmith Josephine Gomersall has found a way to make the impermanent, permanent; capturing the fleeting beauty of flowers in materials that last the ages. Her exquisitely delicate individual precious metal stems are gentle and nostalgic, summoning childhood memories of wild flowers from meadows and the wayside.

Florilegium collection by Josephine Gomersall displayed in a vase
Josephine’s latest collection Florilegium is set to debut at Shine 2021, the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s annual exhibition of new talent in jewellery and silversmithing. The collection title Florilegium derives from the Latin words flos, meaning flower, and legere, meaning to gather. The pieces are a celebration of common wild flowers, leaves and grasses that one might encounter on a nature walk, recreated faithfully in lustrous sterling silver.


For Josephine, earning a coveted spot in the Shine 2021 cohort is indicative of what has been an auspicious start to the second major career of her life.

“Originally, I was working as a textile designer and product developer, liaising with suppliers and going to textile mills and factories to oversee manufacturing”, she explained via video call during a recent interview with the Goldsmiths’ Centre. “I became increasingly fascinated with how things were made, and what equipment was used at every stage of the making process.” Josephine describes the style of her work as “delicate and decorative drawings in precious metal”.
Silversmith Josephine Gomersall in her workshop
During her time in textiles, Josephine nurtured a slow-burning ambition: a growing desire to change career. Like many makers who find their vocation later in life, or through non-traditional routes, she was waiting for the right moment to transition from one industry to another.
“I used to go to contemporary craft fairs, and I think I secretly aspired to be a designer maker and exhibit myself one day. I signed up for evening classes in jewellery making and printmaking, and then later ceramics, too. Straight away, I was hooked. After I’d had children, I decided to make a really firm commitment to pursuing that as a career. I relocated to Sheffield and started a three-year part-time MA in Design, specialising in jewellery and metalwork, so that I had a recent qualification in my new venture.”
Silversmith Josephine Gomersall's Florilegium collection on her jewellery bench
Josephine’s trajectory towards success continued following her Masters degree at Sheffield Hallam University, when she was selected to join the two-year Starter Studio programme for jewellery and silversmithing at Yorkshire Artspace, aimed at fostering new talent.
“Whilst I was on that programme, I registered with the Sheffield Assay Office, got my Sponsors Mark and started exhibiting and selling my work.” She now shares a new workshop with two other makers at Yorkshire Artspace's Persistence Works studios. “I’ve found a really supportive community here, made up of emerging makers, more established makers and also master silversmiths - so it is a very nurturing environment.”
Yorkshire Artspace Persistence Works, Sheffield
From early on in her career, the themes and motifs of Josephine’s work were innate, almost instinctive, pulled from childhood memories and associations: “I was thinking about why my theme is botanical, and it predates my Art education. It stems right back to childhood and visits to my grandparents’ garden and my mum pressing flowers in the Yellow Pages. I think that is why my work taps into that nostalgic theme, and a sense of familiarity”, she said thoughtfully.
Silversmith Josephine Gomersall's pressed flower designs
“I've always said my design style is delicate and decorative, but I think it does have a sensibility as well. It is kind of fragile, yet strong and organic – there are no hard edges and angles. It is soft, gentle and quiet. Somebody recently described it as having powerful feminine energy, which I really liked. I am making precious metal still lifes, really.”
As an emerging maker, she expounded further on this botanical theme, furnishing her work with a wider message about our often-fractured relationship with nature in the modern world.
“When I was working on my final project for my MA, I wanted to make work that spoke about the importance of connectedness to nature, aiming to use my work as a portal to that and as a prompt.” she explained: “It’s an attempt to subtly convey a message about the importance of conservation and preservation of the natural landscape and as a reminder of the benefits it offers to our health and wellbeing, which I think during the pandemic everyone has tapped into and hopefully now has a greater affinity with it.”
To create pieces that are true to their subject matter, immersion in nature has become a must for Josephine. This integral part of her creative process begins with the close observation of plants and wildflowers in their natural setting, followed by taking photographs, sketching, gathering specimens, and pressing flowers. She has even begun to create a herbarium for reference.
Sheffield Botanical Gardens, silversmith Josephine Gomersall's source of inspiration
“We have got botanical gardens in Sheffield, which are beautiful, and I cycle through them on the way to my studio. I like to immerse myself, I’m constantly looking for shapes and motifs, and considering how I could interpret them in silver. I start by photographing, and if I can, collecting and gathering, and growing specimens myself. I have also been using my sketchbook a lot recently, to build this collection. I’ll have an idea about the scale of what I’m going to produce in silver, but I won’t really know what I’m going to make, or which specimen I’m going to interpret and how. That’s what’s so endlessly fascinating about silversmithing - a lot of makers work things out at the bench in the making process, it is kind of intuitive.”
Silversmith Josephine Gomersall working in her studio

By focusing on common species of plants, Josephine is not only hoping to imbue her work with a sense of nostalgia and familiarity, but also to draw attention to beauty that we might fail to notice in our everyday lives; “I tend to use things that are in my locality, and are common - that are found literally at the wayside, in the hedgerow, or during trips to my local garden centre. I’ve used Eucalyptus, Meadow Grass, Lunaria - common name Honesty - Cow Parsley, Cleavers - also known as Goose Grass - Dandelion seed head, a branch and the last piece, which is the most intricate, is a Field Scabious flower.”
Hand-Pierced Sterling Silver Field Scabious Stem by Josephine Gomersall

This tendency to highlight the aspects of our environment that we may overlook, disregard and take for granted, is also often associated with Ikebana, the Japanese art and philosophy of flower arrangement, an area that Josephine is increasingly venturing into. Although her stems are metal rather than organic, Josephine’s work shares many characteristics with Ikebana-inspired flower arrangements in its minimalism, asymmetry, harmony, tranquillity and use of negative space.
Silversmith Josephine Gomersall's Florilegium collection

“I’ve become really interested in the whole Japanese philosophy and the Japanese aesthetic. I recently travelled to Manchester and did a one-day Ikebana workshop with a sensei (or teacher) called Junko. I’ve also started to do stylised drawings in my sketchbook. I am hoping to develop this further in future. I think in a sense, I’m trying to apply my home interiors background to my current work.”
As her pieces become larger and more three dimensional - closer to literal recreations of flowers in metal - the way that they are arranged and displayed is also increasingly significant to Josephine: “When I first started making, I was making on a very small scale, but over time, my work is getting larger. It’s like literally building a bouquet or an arrangement. You take one stem and then you add another. I am constantly thinking about which one will compliment or contrast with the last stem I just made. My work isn’t voluminous as I mostly work with linear structures, but I really am interested in the negative space as well, and the composition; the curation of the piece is integral.”
Silversmith Josephine Gomersall's silver botanical work displayed in a shadow frame
It’s clear that Josephine is at a transformative juncture in her development as a maker. Exploring Ikebana as a source of inspiration and making her pieces larger-scale and increasingly three-dimensional are just some of the ways that she plans to develop her creative practice.
“I’ve also started to develop some surface textures through etching, and have invested in some new equipment to incorporate some chasing and repoussé techniques as well. My aim is to consolidate and apply my knowledge and experience gained as a designer and product developer with my new skills as a designer maker working in metal, to utilise that resource, having come from a surface pattern and textiles background.”
Silversmith Josephine Gomersall holding two of her Florilegium collection pieces
Josephine speaks with such confidence and clarity about the themes, inspiration and direction of her work that it’s easy to forget she is still at a relatively early stage in her career. She has not only successfully transitioned from one creative industry to another, she has also quickly developed a signature style, one that is unique, with heartfelt and authentic roots, and that is already garnering her recognition through programmes like Shine 2021.

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Using round wire, sheet metal and traditional tools and techniques, Sheffield-based silversmith Josephine Gomersall has found a way to make the impermanent, permanent; capturing the fleeting beauty of flowers in materials that last the ages. Her exquisitely delicate individual precious metal stems are gentle and nostalgic, summoning childhood memories of wild flowers from meadows and the wayside.

Florilegium collection by Josephine Gomersall displayed in a vase
Josephine’s latest collection Florilegium is set to debut at Shine 2021, the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s annual exhibition of new talent in jewellery and silversmithing. The collection title Florilegium derives from the Latin words flos, meaning flower, and legere, meaning to gather. The pieces are a celebration of common wild flowers, leaves and grasses that one might encounter on a nature walk, recreated faithfully in lustrous sterling silver.


For Josephine, earning a coveted spot in the Shine 2021 cohort is indicative of what has been an auspicious start to the second major career of her life.

“Originally, I was working as a textile designer and product developer, liaising with suppliers and going to textile mills and factories to oversee manufacturing”, she explained via video call during a recent interview with the Goldsmiths’ Centre. “I became increasingly fascinated with how things were made, and what equipment was used at every stage of the making process.” Josephine describes the style of her work as “delicate and decorative drawings in precious metal”.
Silversmith Josephine Gomersall in her workshop
During her time in textiles, Josephine nurtured a slow-burning ambition: a growing desire to change career. Like many makers who find their vocation later in life, or through non-traditional routes, she was waiting for the right moment to transition from one industry to another.
“I used to go to contemporary craft fairs, and I think I secretly aspired to be a designer maker and exhibit myself one day. I signed up for evening classes in jewellery making and printmaking, and then later ceramics, too. Straight away, I was hooked. After I’d had children, I decided to make a really firm commitment to pursuing that as a career. I relocated to Sheffield and started a three-year part-time MA in Design, specialising in jewellery and metalwork, so that I had a recent qualification in my new venture.”
Silversmith Josephine Gomersall's Florilegium collection on her jewellery bench
Josephine’s trajectory towards success continued following her Masters degree at Sheffield Hallam University, when she was selected to join the two-year Starter Studio programme for jewellery and silversmithing at Yorkshire Artspace, aimed at fostering new talent.
“Whilst I was on that programme, I registered with the Sheffield Assay Office, got my Sponsors Mark and started exhibiting and selling my work.” She now shares a new workshop with two other makers at Yorkshire Artspace's Persistence Works studios. “I’ve found a really supportive community here, made up of emerging makers, more established makers and also master silversmiths - so it is a very nurturing environment.”
Yorkshire Artspace Persistence Works, Sheffield
From early on in her career, the themes and motifs of Josephine’s work were innate, almost instinctive, pulled from childhood memories and associations: “I was thinking about why my theme is botanical, and it predates my Art education. It stems right back to childhood and visits to my grandparents’ garden and my mum pressing flowers in the Yellow Pages. I think that is why my work taps into that nostalgic theme, and a sense of familiarity”, she said thoughtfully.
Silversmith Josephine Gomersall's pressed flower designs
“I've always said my design style is delicate and decorative, but I think it does have a sensibility as well. It is kind of fragile, yet strong and organic – there are no hard edges and angles. It is soft, gentle and quiet. Somebody recently described it as having powerful feminine energy, which I really liked. I am making precious metal still lifes, really.”
As an emerging maker, she expounded further on this botanical theme, furnishing her work with a wider message about our often-fractured relationship with nature in the modern world.
“When I was working on my final project for my MA, I wanted to make work that spoke about the importance of connectedness to nature, aiming to use my work as a portal to that and as a prompt.” she explained: “It’s an attempt to subtly convey a message about the importance of conservation and preservation of the natural landscape and as a reminder of the benefits it offers to our health and wellbeing, which I think during the pandemic everyone has tapped into and hopefully now has a greater affinity with it.”
To create pieces that are true to their subject matter, immersion in nature has become a must for Josephine. This integral part of her creative process begins with the close observation of plants and wildflowers in their natural setting, followed by taking photographs, sketching, gathering specimens, and pressing flowers. She has even begun to create a herbarium for reference.
Sheffield Botanical Gardens, silversmith Josephine Gomersall's source of inspiration
“We have got botanical gardens in Sheffield, which are beautiful, and I cycle through them on the way to my studio. I like to immerse myself, I’m constantly looking for shapes and motifs, and considering how I could interpret them in silver. I start by photographing, and if I can, collecting and gathering, and growing specimens myself. I have also been using my sketchbook a lot recently, to build this collection. I’ll have an idea about the scale of what I’m going to produce in silver, but I won’t really know what I’m going to make, or which specimen I’m going to interpret and how. That’s what’s so endlessly fascinating about silversmithing - a lot of makers work things out at the bench in the making process, it is kind of intuitive.”
Silversmith Josephine Gomersall working in her studio

By focusing on common species of plants, Josephine is not only hoping to imbue her work with a sense of nostalgia and familiarity, but also to draw attention to beauty that we might fail to notice in our everyday lives; “I tend to use things that are in my locality, and are common - that are found literally at the wayside, in the hedgerow, or during trips to my local garden centre. I’ve used Eucalyptus, Meadow Grass, Lunaria - common name Honesty - Cow Parsley, Cleavers - also known as Goose Grass - Dandelion seed head, a branch and the last piece, which is the most intricate, is a Field Scabious flower.”
Hand-Pierced Sterling Silver Field Scabious Stem by Josephine Gomersall

This tendency to highlight the aspects of our environment that we may overlook, disregard and take for granted, is also often associated with Ikebana, the Japanese art and philosophy of flower arrangement, an area that Josephine is increasingly venturing into. Although her stems are metal rather than organic, Josephine’s work shares many characteristics with Ikebana-inspired flower arrangements in its minimalism, asymmetry, harmony, tranquillity and use of negative space.
Silversmith Josephine Gomersall's Florilegium collection

“I’ve become really interested in the whole Japanese philosophy and the Japanese aesthetic. I recently travelled to Manchester and did a one-day Ikebana workshop with a sensei (or teacher) called Junko. I’ve also started to do stylised drawings in my sketchbook. I am hoping to develop this further in future. I think in a sense, I’m trying to apply my home interiors background to my current work.”
As her pieces become larger and more three dimensional - closer to literal recreations of flowers in metal - the way that they are arranged and displayed is also increasingly significant to Josephine: “When I first started making, I was making on a very small scale, but over time, my work is getting larger. It’s like literally building a bouquet or an arrangement. You take one stem and then you add another. I am constantly thinking about which one will compliment or contrast with the last stem I just made. My work isn’t voluminous as I mostly work with linear structures, but I really am interested in the negative space as well, and the composition; the curation of the piece is integral.”
Silversmith Josephine Gomersall's silver botanical work displayed in a shadow frame
It’s clear that Josephine is at a transformative juncture in her development as a maker. Exploring Ikebana as a source of inspiration and making her pieces larger-scale and increasingly three-dimensional are just some of the ways that she plans to develop her creative practice.
“I’ve also started to develop some surface textures through etching, and have invested in some new equipment to incorporate some chasing and repoussé techniques as well. My aim is to consolidate and apply my knowledge and experience gained as a designer and product developer with my new skills as a designer maker working in metal, to utilise that resource, having come from a surface pattern and textiles background.”
Silversmith Josephine Gomersall holding two of her Florilegium collection pieces
Josephine speaks with such confidence and clarity about the themes, inspiration and direction of her work that it’s easy to forget she is still at a relatively early stage in her career. She has not only successfully transitioned from one creative industry to another, she has also quickly developed a signature style, one that is unique, with heartfelt and authentic roots, and that is already garnering her recognition through programmes like Shine 2021.

Read more


The floral jewellery collection, “Pholoon Fragments”, by jewellery designer maker Natalie Perry

Posted by Rae Gellel on

Natalie Perry’s latest fine jewellery collection “Pholoon Fragments” encapsulates the beauty of India and its flora – in all its delicacy, lace-like forms, and natural imperfections. With a shared workshop in London at the Goldsmiths’ Centre, Natalie’s early passion for the creative arts has flourished into a full-time career, seeing her breathe life into her precious and responsibly-sourced gemstone and gold creations.

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Natalie Perry’s latest fine jewellery collection “Pholoon Fragments” encapsulates the beauty of India and its flora – in all its delicacy, lace-like forms, and natural imperfections. With a shared workshop in London at the Goldsmiths’ Centre, Natalie’s early passion for the creative arts has flourished into a full-time career, seeing her breathe life into her precious and responsibly-sourced gemstone and gold creations.

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The Goldsmiths' Centre announces lineup for Shine 2021

Posted by Isabel Keim on

23rd September – 22nd December 2021
Special Preview, 22nd September, 5pm – 6pm, Online (Zoom)

Thirteen makers have been selected for Shine 2021, the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s annual new talent showcase in jewellery and silversmithing. Their work testifies to the resourcefulness of creative practitioners during challenging times. The rigorous and anonymised selection process, which followed an open submission opportunity, was headed by guest judges communications specialist, Nyasha Daley, Shine 2019 exhibitor and jeweller, Ella Fearon-Low and Rachael Taylor, Journalist and Founder of the Jewellery Cut.

Jeweller Makila Nsika as part of Shine 2021

Returning as a hybrid event with collections for sale online at goldsmiths-shop-talent.org and a physical display at the Goldsmiths’ Centre, Shine 2021 will present new collections of cutting-edge work and celebrate up-and-coming UK designer makers. Each exhibitor will participate in an intensive online skills training programme, delivered by the Goldsmiths’ Centre, covering all aspects of selling and presenting themselves and their work online, designed to get them market ready for the digital opening on 22nd September 2021.
This year’s Shine 2021 exhibitors are:

  • Agata Karwoska
  • Alice Fry
  • Clio Saskia
  • Georgie Orme-Brown
  • Heidi Hockenjos
  • Kali Forbes
  • Katherine Brunacci
  • Makila Nsika
  • Maria Gower
  • Natalie Perry
  • Roberta Pederzoli
  • Josephine Gomersall
  • Ellina Pollitt

Silversmith and jeweller Josephine Gomersall

Shine 2021 provides a platform for the best new businesses in the industry. Every purchase of their work made via www.goldsmiths-shop-talent is reinvested to support emerging and thriving careers. Online Meet the Makers events, a digital special preview evening, and interviews and short films created with the makers and shared via the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s Instagram channel @gsmithscentre, are part of the Shine 2021 programme, enabling consumers and trade representatives to interact with these talented makers.

Charlotte Dew, Public Programme Manager explains: “Each year Shine is an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary talent of emerging designer makers. Through the programme, the Goldsmiths’ Centre is committed to supporting the development of young businesses and training them to be fit to operate in the current market. This year we are delighted to have increased the number of participants and further our commitment to inclusively by inviting applications by open submission for the first time.”

Jeweller and silversmith Maria Gower

Shine 2021 makers will be showcasing and selling their work from 23rd September 2021 online here at www.goldsmiths-shop-talent.org

#Shine2021

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The Goldsmiths' Centre announces lineup for Shine 2021

Posted by Isabel Keim on

23rd September – 22nd December 2021
Special Preview, 22nd September, 5pm – 6pm, Online (Zoom)

Thirteen makers have been selected for Shine 2021, the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s annual new talent showcase in jewellery and silversmithing. Their work testifies to the resourcefulness of creative practitioners during challenging times. The rigorous and anonymised selection process, which followed an open submission opportunity, was headed by guest judges communications specialist, Nyasha Daley, Shine 2019 exhibitor and jeweller, Ella Fearon-Low and Rachael Taylor, Journalist and Founder of the Jewellery Cut.

Jeweller Makila Nsika as part of Shine 2021

Returning as a hybrid event with collections for sale online at goldsmiths-shop-talent.org and a physical display at the Goldsmiths’ Centre, Shine 2021 will present new collections of cutting-edge work and celebrate up-and-coming UK designer makers. Each exhibitor will participate in an intensive online skills training programme, delivered by the Goldsmiths’ Centre, covering all aspects of selling and presenting themselves and their work online, designed to get them market ready for the digital opening on 22nd September 2021.
This year’s Shine 2021 exhibitors are:

  • Agata Karwoska
  • Alice Fry
  • Clio Saskia
  • Georgie Orme-Brown
  • Heidi Hockenjos
  • Kali Forbes
  • Katherine Brunacci
  • Makila Nsika
  • Maria Gower
  • Natalie Perry
  • Roberta Pederzoli
  • Josephine Gomersall
  • Ellina Pollitt

Silversmith and jeweller Josephine Gomersall

Shine 2021 provides a platform for the best new businesses in the industry. Every purchase of their work made via www.goldsmiths-shop-talent is reinvested to support emerging and thriving careers. Online Meet the Makers events, a digital special preview evening, and interviews and short films created with the makers and shared via the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s Instagram channel @gsmithscentre, are part of the Shine 2021 programme, enabling consumers and trade representatives to interact with these talented makers.

Charlotte Dew, Public Programme Manager explains: “Each year Shine is an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary talent of emerging designer makers. Through the programme, the Goldsmiths’ Centre is committed to supporting the development of young businesses and training them to be fit to operate in the current market. This year we are delighted to have increased the number of participants and further our commitment to inclusively by inviting applications by open submission for the first time.”

Jeweller and silversmith Maria Gower

Shine 2021 makers will be showcasing and selling their work from 23rd September 2021 online here at www.goldsmiths-shop-talent.org

#Shine2021

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