Makers' Stories

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

Meet Italian jewellery designer Francesca Urciuoli

Posted by Rae Gellel on

Italian jewellery designer Francesca Urciuoli has travelled the world whilst developing her creative practice; born in Perugia, a small city in Central Italy, she relocated to Florence to train at the historic Alchimia School of Jewellery, before journeying to the US to undertake internships in San Diego and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. She then returned to Europe, completing a two year residency at Birmingham School of Jewellery.

Francesca is now based in Berlin, and her most recent collection Under the Surface: Mapping Mokume Gane debuted at Shine, our annual talent showcase which went digital in 2020. In a recent interview, she describes her fascination with the Mokume Gane technique and how her nomadic life is represented in her pieces.

What first attracted you to a career as a maker, and how did you get started in the industry?

From a young age, I’ve always liked to make and create things. Specifically, when I was little, I started making jewellery with my sister, and then I kept cultivating that passion on my own. After I finished school, I wanted to pursue some kind of arts education. At first, I tried interior design, but found that it wasn’t for me, so I didn’t even make it to the end of the first year. I asked myself what it was I liked to do, what my passion was, and I decided to jump into the jewellery world. I knew I needed to ask for advice from someone in the industry, so I met with Giovanni Corvaja, a jeweller, artist and designer currently based in Todi, which is pretty close to my hometown, Perugia. He recommended that I go to Florence and start jewellery school, either

Alchimia or the Le Arti Orafe. I finally decided to go to Alchimia, and that’s where everything started.

So what can you tell us about the collection you'll be debuting at shine 2020?

My collection is an exploration of the Mokume Gane technique. Through the creation of the jewellery and through looking at the finished product, I want to raise questions like what can the metal reveal, what is under the surface? Those questions are a key point of my collection, but in general, my creative practice is about leaving some space for unpredictability. That’s the reason that I fell in love with Mokume Gane, because no matter how hard you try, you can never make two pieces that look exactly the same. It’s amazing how every time I work with the technique, it’s a surprise to see the outcome. It’s always fun to play with. I have to admit that this is a key point perhaps because it reflects my personality in some way - I’m a person that doesn’t like to plan every little detail of a project, or, maybe it’s more accurate to say that I like to plan, but I don’t like to stick to that plan religiously. It’s through unexpected detours that the surprises come out, the fun and valuable elements. Central to my work is the question ‘what if?’ It’s what keeps me going and keeps me hungry for new things to learn and make.


Can this focus on unpredictability be seen in the pieces, and if so, how?

If you look at my jewellery, there are lots of lines that intersect and make knots. Those knots, in some sense, represent the detours. They’re the paths I could have taken, the chances, possibilities and mistakes that become the value of the whole piece, the whole journey. The idea of a journey is relevant to me personally because since I started my jewellery education, I have travelled and moved around a lot. I started in my hometown, which is a really small city, and although the centre of Italy has a lot of history, it didn’t have the educational opportunities that I wanted. So I moved to Florence for my Bachelors degree, where I stayed for three years, before moving to the US to do my Masters degree and some internships. First I had the chance to work with Heidi Lowe, in Rehoboth Beach, and then I moved to San Diego, CA, and it was there that I learned the Mokume Gane technique. After my visa expired, I had to return to Europe so I decided to apply for residency programmes and got accepted to the one at the  Birmingham City University in the UK. I was there for two years, and then finally, when those two years were up, I moved to Berlin, where I’m currently based.

 

So every time I move or travel, it’s like a new beginning, with all new possibilities, and at the same time, it’s a new attempt to find out where I belong. So again, this kind of uncertainty and unpredictability is manifested in my collection in a way. The lines and patterns represent a memory from my journey. It could be a detail from a street that I visited or a pavement that I was intrigued by. I’m always attracted to imperfections, by anything that looks off, because I believe such things often have a story sealed behind them. That’s why I try to give a certain old, worn look to my jewellery pieces - so that whoever is wearing them or looking at them can make up their own stories as well. I try not to be too literal, but still represent my journey through a certain aesthetic.

What does being chosen for Shine 2020 mean to you - both on a professional level and a personal level?

Being chosen for Shine was great news for me, I was very pleased. I love to be a part of events organised by the Goldsmiths’ Centre, because the Centre has great staff and every event is very well known, so you’re likely to get known as well - you’re going to make contacts and meet new people. That’s great, especially this year as Shine is an online exhibition, and my aim right now is to build up an online presence. So an official opportunity like this one is a great time to get into that.

What have you learned from the process of planning and creating your collection?

As I said, planning is not really my strong suit. In a way, it was my weakness during grad school, as I struggled to focus on just one thing - I’d jump from one thing to another, and that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. However it also turned out to be helpful, especially for Shine, as by jumping from one thing to another, I was able to find a bridge between the two main collections I was working on at that moment - one focusing on Mokume Gane and the other on silver wire. The silver wire collection is called Knotted and is basically about making patterns and motives with knots, and thanks to my habit of jumping from one thing to another, I was able to merge these two collections, integrating the knots with Mokume Gane. This is why the lines and patterns in my collections intersect and make knots, connecting to the whole concept of journeys and memories. When you make a knot, you want to remember something and not forget it. It’s about remembering, fixing, repairing, memories and the stories behind them.

How have you found structuring your working day whilst working from home?

Right now, I have three jobs, two part time jobs and on top of that I run my own business, so I’ve had to learn to manage my time. The part time jobs mean that I don’t have to be stressed out all the time about bills, and they also really give me discipline in terms of planning my days. On the other hand, it’s hard to balance them all, as having 3 jobs can be sometimes overwhelming and it can slow down my development for my own creative business, but I'm working on it and I’m looking forward to investing more and more time into my jewellery.

 

What do you enjoy most about being a maker - for example, is the joy in the making itself, or in sharing the finished pieces with the world?

I would say both the making process and the contact with my audience and clients. Sometimes, I really need to focus on working in my studio, making my own jewellery and having my own creative time. At the same time however, I really like to receive nice, interesting feedback from customers, it motivates me and gives me renewed energy to learn more and be a better maker. That’s another reason why I have a part time job - it involves a lot of talking and contact with people through teaching jewellery classes. I couldn’t do that full time, as I need alone time in the studio, but it’s good to have that balance. When you’re making, it’s easy to get lost, you’re isolated, and sometimes, you need to get out and interact.

What kind of person do you think will be most attracted to your collection, and to your design style in general - do you have a target audience in mind?

I always try to aim my jewellery collections at a wide audience. That means that, for example, my prices start from very low, from around eighty euros, up to 1000 or more. I try to keep it open, and that means I don’t get stuck on a certain kind of client, and I’m able to get a wider range of feedback. For this reason, I use the Mokume Gane technique, working with precious metals like gold and palladium, but I also work with less precious metals like silver and steel. That’s a metal that I’ve used a lot in this last collection, because it has a similar outcome to the combination of silver and palladium 500, which is great - the only thing is that you need to take more care of jewellery made with mild steel, as it can rust. I wear these pieces every day though, and I keep them on even when I shower. As long as I keep them close to my skin, it’s like a polishing process that goes on all day. So it’s really important to educate customers on how to treat these pieces and take care of them.

What were you most looking forward to about participating in Shine 2020?

I'm really looking forward to building more of an online presence, and also just seeing what happens, as this is the first time Shine has gone digital, so it will be interesting to see both sides, the outcome for both the clients and the Centre itself.

What’s next - what are your professional and creative goals for the next two years?

My goals are of course, to keep making jewellery, and eventually, open my own studio. I would like to have some kind of co-working space, rather than working alone, but it’s hard to find the right kind of people who make jewellery or who work with another material on a professional basis, rather than having making as a hobby or something they do once in a while. So my goal is to set something up with a small group of people, and, of course, to work really hard! I also want to develop more of an online presence and get my online shop up and running - it was finished just two months ago and is online now.

Read more

Meet Italian jewellery designer Francesca Urciuoli

Posted by Rae Gellel on

Italian jewellery designer Francesca Urciuoli has travelled the world whilst developing her creative practice; born in Perugia, a small city in Central Italy, she relocated to Florence to train at the historic Alchimia School of Jewellery, before journeying to the US to undertake internships in San Diego and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. She then returned to Europe, completing a two year residency at Birmingham School of Jewellery.

Francesca is now based in Berlin, and her most recent collection Under the Surface: Mapping Mokume Gane debuted at Shine, our annual talent showcase which went digital in 2020. In a recent interview, she describes her fascination with the Mokume Gane technique and how her nomadic life is represented in her pieces.

What first attracted you to a career as a maker, and how did you get started in the industry?

From a young age, I’ve always liked to make and create things. Specifically, when I was little, I started making jewellery with my sister, and then I kept cultivating that passion on my own. After I finished school, I wanted to pursue some kind of arts education. At first, I tried interior design, but found that it wasn’t for me, so I didn’t even make it to the end of the first year. I asked myself what it was I liked to do, what my passion was, and I decided to jump into the jewellery world. I knew I needed to ask for advice from someone in the industry, so I met with Giovanni Corvaja, a jeweller, artist and designer currently based in Todi, which is pretty close to my hometown, Perugia. He recommended that I go to Florence and start jewellery school, either

Alchimia or the Le Arti Orafe. I finally decided to go to Alchimia, and that’s where everything started.

So what can you tell us about the collection you'll be debuting at shine 2020?

My collection is an exploration of the Mokume Gane technique. Through the creation of the jewellery and through looking at the finished product, I want to raise questions like what can the metal reveal, what is under the surface? Those questions are a key point of my collection, but in general, my creative practice is about leaving some space for unpredictability. That’s the reason that I fell in love with Mokume Gane, because no matter how hard you try, you can never make two pieces that look exactly the same. It’s amazing how every time I work with the technique, it’s a surprise to see the outcome. It’s always fun to play with. I have to admit that this is a key point perhaps because it reflects my personality in some way - I’m a person that doesn’t like to plan every little detail of a project, or, maybe it’s more accurate to say that I like to plan, but I don’t like to stick to that plan religiously. It’s through unexpected detours that the surprises come out, the fun and valuable elements. Central to my work is the question ‘what if?’ It’s what keeps me going and keeps me hungry for new things to learn and make.


Can this focus on unpredictability be seen in the pieces, and if so, how?

If you look at my jewellery, there are lots of lines that intersect and make knots. Those knots, in some sense, represent the detours. They’re the paths I could have taken, the chances, possibilities and mistakes that become the value of the whole piece, the whole journey. The idea of a journey is relevant to me personally because since I started my jewellery education, I have travelled and moved around a lot. I started in my hometown, which is a really small city, and although the centre of Italy has a lot of history, it didn’t have the educational opportunities that I wanted. So I moved to Florence for my Bachelors degree, where I stayed for three years, before moving to the US to do my Masters degree and some internships. First I had the chance to work with Heidi Lowe, in Rehoboth Beach, and then I moved to San Diego, CA, and it was there that I learned the Mokume Gane technique. After my visa expired, I had to return to Europe so I decided to apply for residency programmes and got accepted to the one at the  Birmingham City University in the UK. I was there for two years, and then finally, when those two years were up, I moved to Berlin, where I’m currently based.

 

So every time I move or travel, it’s like a new beginning, with all new possibilities, and at the same time, it’s a new attempt to find out where I belong. So again, this kind of uncertainty and unpredictability is manifested in my collection in a way. The lines and patterns represent a memory from my journey. It could be a detail from a street that I visited or a pavement that I was intrigued by. I’m always attracted to imperfections, by anything that looks off, because I believe such things often have a story sealed behind them. That’s why I try to give a certain old, worn look to my jewellery pieces - so that whoever is wearing them or looking at them can make up their own stories as well. I try not to be too literal, but still represent my journey through a certain aesthetic.

What does being chosen for Shine 2020 mean to you - both on a professional level and a personal level?

Being chosen for Shine was great news for me, I was very pleased. I love to be a part of events organised by the Goldsmiths’ Centre, because the Centre has great staff and every event is very well known, so you’re likely to get known as well - you’re going to make contacts and meet new people. That’s great, especially this year as Shine is an online exhibition, and my aim right now is to build up an online presence. So an official opportunity like this one is a great time to get into that.

What have you learned from the process of planning and creating your collection?

As I said, planning is not really my strong suit. In a way, it was my weakness during grad school, as I struggled to focus on just one thing - I’d jump from one thing to another, and that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. However it also turned out to be helpful, especially for Shine, as by jumping from one thing to another, I was able to find a bridge between the two main collections I was working on at that moment - one focusing on Mokume Gane and the other on silver wire. The silver wire collection is called Knotted and is basically about making patterns and motives with knots, and thanks to my habit of jumping from one thing to another, I was able to merge these two collections, integrating the knots with Mokume Gane. This is why the lines and patterns in my collections intersect and make knots, connecting to the whole concept of journeys and memories. When you make a knot, you want to remember something and not forget it. It’s about remembering, fixing, repairing, memories and the stories behind them.

How have you found structuring your working day whilst working from home?

Right now, I have three jobs, two part time jobs and on top of that I run my own business, so I’ve had to learn to manage my time. The part time jobs mean that I don’t have to be stressed out all the time about bills, and they also really give me discipline in terms of planning my days. On the other hand, it’s hard to balance them all, as having 3 jobs can be sometimes overwhelming and it can slow down my development for my own creative business, but I'm working on it and I’m looking forward to investing more and more time into my jewellery.

 

What do you enjoy most about being a maker - for example, is the joy in the making itself, or in sharing the finished pieces with the world?

I would say both the making process and the contact with my audience and clients. Sometimes, I really need to focus on working in my studio, making my own jewellery and having my own creative time. At the same time however, I really like to receive nice, interesting feedback from customers, it motivates me and gives me renewed energy to learn more and be a better maker. That’s another reason why I have a part time job - it involves a lot of talking and contact with people through teaching jewellery classes. I couldn’t do that full time, as I need alone time in the studio, but it’s good to have that balance. When you’re making, it’s easy to get lost, you’re isolated, and sometimes, you need to get out and interact.

What kind of person do you think will be most attracted to your collection, and to your design style in general - do you have a target audience in mind?

I always try to aim my jewellery collections at a wide audience. That means that, for example, my prices start from very low, from around eighty euros, up to 1000 or more. I try to keep it open, and that means I don’t get stuck on a certain kind of client, and I’m able to get a wider range of feedback. For this reason, I use the Mokume Gane technique, working with precious metals like gold and palladium, but I also work with less precious metals like silver and steel. That’s a metal that I’ve used a lot in this last collection, because it has a similar outcome to the combination of silver and palladium 500, which is great - the only thing is that you need to take more care of jewellery made with mild steel, as it can rust. I wear these pieces every day though, and I keep them on even when I shower. As long as I keep them close to my skin, it’s like a polishing process that goes on all day. So it’s really important to educate customers on how to treat these pieces and take care of them.

What were you most looking forward to about participating in Shine 2020?

I'm really looking forward to building more of an online presence, and also just seeing what happens, as this is the first time Shine has gone digital, so it will be interesting to see both sides, the outcome for both the clients and the Centre itself.

What’s next - what are your professional and creative goals for the next two years?

My goals are of course, to keep making jewellery, and eventually, open my own studio. I would like to have some kind of co-working space, rather than working alone, but it’s hard to find the right kind of people who make jewellery or who work with another material on a professional basis, rather than having making as a hobby or something they do once in a while. So my goal is to set something up with a small group of people, and, of course, to work really hard! I also want to develop more of an online presence and get my online shop up and running - it was finished just two months ago and is online now.

Read more


Silversmith and jeweller Ellys May Woods on her handmade pieces

Posted by Rae Gellel on

Inspired by the bridges that tower over the Firth of Forth in Scotland, we spoke to Elly May Wood's about her Caledonian collection, which is testament of her precision in techniques such as scoring, wire working, etching and folding.

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Silversmith and jeweller Ellys May Woods on her handmade pieces

Posted by Rae Gellel on

Inspired by the bridges that tower over the Firth of Forth in Scotland, we spoke to Elly May Wood's about her Caledonian collection, which is testament of her precision in techniques such as scoring, wire working, etching and folding.

Read more


Sarah Shelton-Palmer, silversmith and jeweller, on her Chasing Waves collection

Posted by Rae Gellel on

Cornish-born silversmith and jeweller Sarah Shelton-Palmer speaks about her love of the ocean reflected through her handmade silversmithing collection Chasing Waves.

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Cornish-born silversmith and jeweller Sarah Shelton-Palmer speaks about her love of the ocean reflected through her handmade silversmithing collection Chasing Waves.

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Megan Brown on jewellery making and her ‘Woven Collection’

Posted by Rae Gellel on

Megan Brown’s ‘Woven Collection’ achieves an impressive feat: recreating the gentle, flowing appearance of fabric through the use of metal. This unique idea, brilliantly executed through the weaving of delicate chains, has earned her a place at Shine 2020, our annual talent showcase.

In a recent interview, Megan describes how she pours her past into the act of jewellery-making, her work inspired by a family history in textiles that dates back over 100-years.

What first attracted you to a career as a maker, and how did you get started in the industry?

Well, I actually started out studying fashion at Edinburgh College of Art, but I’d always been curious about jewellery making, and then I got the opportunity to work with a local jeweller, and that was how my love of jewellery started. When I was studying fashion, I was really missing a sense of craftmanship and just the act of creating. I also loved the attention to detail involved in working on such a small scale; to me, making jewellery is like making miniature sculptures. After that, I started working in the industry as a Goldsmith with a local jeweller, and that’s where I gained a lot of my experience, doing repairs and making bespoke pieces. Then I worked as a bespoke designer with another local jeweller before setting up my brand and really pursuing my own work.

 

What can you tell us about the collection you'll be debuting at Shine?

So, my new collection is inspired by my family’s hundred-year-old textile mill, which was one of the reasons why I initially thought fashion was the right path for me before I fell in love with jewellery making. I come from a family of both goldsmiths and weavers, so I feel like this collection really comes full circle, it combines two parts of my life and is very special and personal to me.



I love fabric and the way it falls and catches the light; for this collection I wanted to capture that moment of movement. I started by experimenting with weaving different materials, and ended up working with chains, which I loved because of their movement and the intricate weave I was able to create.

The pieces are very textile, very sculptural. The idea is that when they’re worn, they come alive, as you can see how they’re supposed to sit and move. Some are layered, like wearable sculptures. Though the collection incorporates a lot of tradition, I also wanted the pieces to have a modern contemporary feel. They’re dynamic pieces that you can wear every day and anywhere. I’m considering expanding on the work by using designs inspired by Olga de Amaral, a textile artist who uses a lot of different colours and weaving to create what are almost like miniature tapestries.

Can you go into detail about how you developed this idea of weaving metal?

I initially started doing basic weaving with wires and sheets. I did a lot of reading on how to do weaving with metal as it’s such a huge area of making, and then I came across chains, because it occurred to me that they’re so much more like threads. I started playing about with them, and eventually worked out that they could be the frame for the pieces. I initially created the designs almost like a woven loom, and I was thinking of taking the piece off the loom so that it was fluid.

 

I created samples that were actually able to move, because there is no solid aspect to them, and that’s something that might be interesting to develop at a later date. For now, I chose a solid frame to give structure and shape, giving the feeling of flowing fabrics with the textural element of the weavings. You can get a much tighter weave with the chain rather than the wires, which I found really hard to create a uniform texture from.

Through these experiments, I discovered that you could create the shapes and the idea of movement without having the literal flow of the fabric, and found that really interesting. Testing the different processes was fascinating and also quite endless, I feel like I’ve only just started, and I’m constantly refining it.

What does being chosen for Shine 2020 mean to you - both on a professional level and a personal level?

I was really excited when I got selected for Shine, particularly as it’s new work that I’m debuting, so it feels like recognition, an acknowledgement of my collection. When you’re working on your own, focusing on little pieces, it’s important to have a connection like this. Knowing that an organisation like the Goldsmiths’ Centre wants to promote my work because they have faith in me as a designer, that’s really exciting and encouraging. Also, because there are a group of makers participating in Shine, you get to work with other jewellers at a similar level in their careers, so I’m looking forward to hopefully making new connections through that.

What have you learned from the process of planning and creating your collection?

I did the Getting Started course at the Goldsmiths’ Centre, and that included a talk on how to create a collection, how to develop pieces at a design level and how to find out your ideal customer and what they want. That was really instrumental for me, as I now ensure that I have different pieces to appeal to different customers.

 

It has been an interesting exercise overall, I’ve thought a lot more before starting to make, and I had more of a vision for this collection, I knew what it would be and the types of pieces that I wanted to create. Some of the designs had been in the back of my mind for a while, or in my sketchbook which I have been drawing in for years, and I feel like by coming back to them in this collection, I’m coming full circle creatively. I feel like it represents a style that I’ve always been trying to find, one that is very true to me.

What do you enjoy most about being a maker - for example, is the joy in the making itself, or in sharing the finished pieces with the world?

There are so many different aspects that I love. At the heart of it, it’s the craftmanship within the piece that I love the most, and the idea that jewellery is something that might be cherished for generations. You pour a lot of time and effort into creating a piece and when you give it to a customer, the knowledge that they could have it forever, that it could be passed down throughout their family, is especially emotive. Recently, I made a piece for a customer and she almost burst into tears, because it had such sentimental value – it was a piece with her dad’s gold ring within the gold, using an opal she already owned. It’s things like that that really make what I do special, and you don’t get that often in life. I’ve constantly got more ideas so I’m not going to stop any time soon.

What kind of person do you think will be most attracted to your collection, and to your design style in general - do you have a target audience in mind?

I gained some experience from my last collection and the type of customers that were attracted to it. With this new collection, I definitely want to expand on my current customer base, to maybe reach someone who just loves jewellery, is very passionate and creative, and who wants something a little bit different whilst also appreciating the craftmanship behind the piece. I’ve definitely got a picture of my ideal customer in mind, someone who I’d love to be selling to - I’m looking for someone like me in a customer, someone who wants something really different, something unique.

I’m always looking for a piece that no-one else has myself, something that you can tell, because of the quality of the craftsmanship, can’t be made again. I love the idea of one-off work. I always test my pieces as well, and I know when something is really good because I end up putting it into my own jewellery collection! If it’s jewellery that you as a maker would wear yourself, then you know it’s the right kind of piece.

What are you most looking forward to about participating in Shine 2020?

It’s exciting, because it’s a big event that will get a large amount of publicity. It’s very prestigious and has connections with the Goldsmiths’ Fair as well, and I’ve always wanted to exhibit there, but because I’m based in the North of England, it’s something that hasn’t been possible for me so far. There tends to be a lot of organised events in London that I can’t get to, so something like this that I can get involved with is really special, an opportunity that doesn’t come around every day. I’m not sure what will happen as a result of it, but so far, everything has been very well organised, especially how the Shine programme supports you as a maker before you actually show your work.

What's next - what are your creative and career goals for the next two years?

I'd really like to work with more larger scale projects, I’m doing a collaboration at the moment with a paper artist in order to create larger pieces and explore that angle to my business. It’s very much a fine art lead, but that’s kind of where my aspirations as a maker and for my business lie. I would ultimately like to be based in London and grow a customer base down there, developing my business as more high-end, fine jewellery centred. I’d like to increase my direct customer service, but also get my work into some select stockists and hopefully apply for more awards, to become better recognised - Shine should help with that.



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Megan Brown on jewellery making and her ‘Woven Collection’

Posted by Rae Gellel on

Megan Brown’s ‘Woven Collection’ achieves an impressive feat: recreating the gentle, flowing appearance of fabric through the use of metal. This unique idea, brilliantly executed through the weaving of delicate chains, has earned her a place at Shine 2020, our annual talent showcase.

In a recent interview, Megan describes how she pours her past into the act of jewellery-making, her work inspired by a family history in textiles that dates back over 100-years.

What first attracted you to a career as a maker, and how did you get started in the industry?

Well, I actually started out studying fashion at Edinburgh College of Art, but I’d always been curious about jewellery making, and then I got the opportunity to work with a local jeweller, and that was how my love of jewellery started. When I was studying fashion, I was really missing a sense of craftmanship and just the act of creating. I also loved the attention to detail involved in working on such a small scale; to me, making jewellery is like making miniature sculptures. After that, I started working in the industry as a Goldsmith with a local jeweller, and that’s where I gained a lot of my experience, doing repairs and making bespoke pieces. Then I worked as a bespoke designer with another local jeweller before setting up my brand and really pursuing my own work.

 

What can you tell us about the collection you'll be debuting at Shine?

So, my new collection is inspired by my family’s hundred-year-old textile mill, which was one of the reasons why I initially thought fashion was the right path for me before I fell in love with jewellery making. I come from a family of both goldsmiths and weavers, so I feel like this collection really comes full circle, it combines two parts of my life and is very special and personal to me.



I love fabric and the way it falls and catches the light; for this collection I wanted to capture that moment of movement. I started by experimenting with weaving different materials, and ended up working with chains, which I loved because of their movement and the intricate weave I was able to create.

The pieces are very textile, very sculptural. The idea is that when they’re worn, they come alive, as you can see how they’re supposed to sit and move. Some are layered, like wearable sculptures. Though the collection incorporates a lot of tradition, I also wanted the pieces to have a modern contemporary feel. They’re dynamic pieces that you can wear every day and anywhere. I’m considering expanding on the work by using designs inspired by Olga de Amaral, a textile artist who uses a lot of different colours and weaving to create what are almost like miniature tapestries.

Can you go into detail about how you developed this idea of weaving metal?

I initially started doing basic weaving with wires and sheets. I did a lot of reading on how to do weaving with metal as it’s such a huge area of making, and then I came across chains, because it occurred to me that they’re so much more like threads. I started playing about with them, and eventually worked out that they could be the frame for the pieces. I initially created the designs almost like a woven loom, and I was thinking of taking the piece off the loom so that it was fluid.

 

I created samples that were actually able to move, because there is no solid aspect to them, and that’s something that might be interesting to develop at a later date. For now, I chose a solid frame to give structure and shape, giving the feeling of flowing fabrics with the textural element of the weavings. You can get a much tighter weave with the chain rather than the wires, which I found really hard to create a uniform texture from.

Through these experiments, I discovered that you could create the shapes and the idea of movement without having the literal flow of the fabric, and found that really interesting. Testing the different processes was fascinating and also quite endless, I feel like I’ve only just started, and I’m constantly refining it.

What does being chosen for Shine 2020 mean to you - both on a professional level and a personal level?

I was really excited when I got selected for Shine, particularly as it’s new work that I’m debuting, so it feels like recognition, an acknowledgement of my collection. When you’re working on your own, focusing on little pieces, it’s important to have a connection like this. Knowing that an organisation like the Goldsmiths’ Centre wants to promote my work because they have faith in me as a designer, that’s really exciting and encouraging. Also, because there are a group of makers participating in Shine, you get to work with other jewellers at a similar level in their careers, so I’m looking forward to hopefully making new connections through that.

What have you learned from the process of planning and creating your collection?

I did the Getting Started course at the Goldsmiths’ Centre, and that included a talk on how to create a collection, how to develop pieces at a design level and how to find out your ideal customer and what they want. That was really instrumental for me, as I now ensure that I have different pieces to appeal to different customers.

 

It has been an interesting exercise overall, I’ve thought a lot more before starting to make, and I had more of a vision for this collection, I knew what it would be and the types of pieces that I wanted to create. Some of the designs had been in the back of my mind for a while, or in my sketchbook which I have been drawing in for years, and I feel like by coming back to them in this collection, I’m coming full circle creatively. I feel like it represents a style that I’ve always been trying to find, one that is very true to me.

What do you enjoy most about being a maker - for example, is the joy in the making itself, or in sharing the finished pieces with the world?

There are so many different aspects that I love. At the heart of it, it’s the craftmanship within the piece that I love the most, and the idea that jewellery is something that might be cherished for generations. You pour a lot of time and effort into creating a piece and when you give it to a customer, the knowledge that they could have it forever, that it could be passed down throughout their family, is especially emotive. Recently, I made a piece for a customer and she almost burst into tears, because it had such sentimental value – it was a piece with her dad’s gold ring within the gold, using an opal she already owned. It’s things like that that really make what I do special, and you don’t get that often in life. I’ve constantly got more ideas so I’m not going to stop any time soon.

What kind of person do you think will be most attracted to your collection, and to your design style in general - do you have a target audience in mind?

I gained some experience from my last collection and the type of customers that were attracted to it. With this new collection, I definitely want to expand on my current customer base, to maybe reach someone who just loves jewellery, is very passionate and creative, and who wants something a little bit different whilst also appreciating the craftmanship behind the piece. I’ve definitely got a picture of my ideal customer in mind, someone who I’d love to be selling to - I’m looking for someone like me in a customer, someone who wants something really different, something unique.

I’m always looking for a piece that no-one else has myself, something that you can tell, because of the quality of the craftsmanship, can’t be made again. I love the idea of one-off work. I always test my pieces as well, and I know when something is really good because I end up putting it into my own jewellery collection! If it’s jewellery that you as a maker would wear yourself, then you know it’s the right kind of piece.

What are you most looking forward to about participating in Shine 2020?

It’s exciting, because it’s a big event that will get a large amount of publicity. It’s very prestigious and has connections with the Goldsmiths’ Fair as well, and I’ve always wanted to exhibit there, but because I’m based in the North of England, it’s something that hasn’t been possible for me so far. There tends to be a lot of organised events in London that I can’t get to, so something like this that I can get involved with is really special, an opportunity that doesn’t come around every day. I’m not sure what will happen as a result of it, but so far, everything has been very well organised, especially how the Shine programme supports you as a maker before you actually show your work.

What's next - what are your creative and career goals for the next two years?

I'd really like to work with more larger scale projects, I’m doing a collaboration at the moment with a paper artist in order to create larger pieces and explore that angle to my business. It’s very much a fine art lead, but that’s kind of where my aspirations as a maker and for my business lie. I would ultimately like to be based in London and grow a customer base down there, developing my business as more high-end, fine jewellery centred. I’d like to increase my direct customer service, but also get my work into some select stockists and hopefully apply for more awards, to become better recognised - Shine should help with that.



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Louisa Pacifico's Top 5 Picks from Shine 2020

Posted by Isabel Keim on

Looking for that perfect hand-crafted Christmas gift by new talent? Louisa Pacifico, founder of Future Icons and a passionate supporter of craft and design, reveals her top favourites from this year's Shine 2020. 

#1 Handmade Single Curl 18ct Yellow Gold Stud Earrings ~ Ellys May Woods

Everyone needs staples within their jewellery collections which transcend time. The simple wave design in these elegant gold studs by Ellys May Woods can be matched to any outfit and suit day and night occasions.

#2 Gold, Moonstone and Rhodolith Pink Frost Earrings ~ Katharina Kraus

Along with your staples, I like to have a few special pieces within my jewellery collection for the 'wow' factor at important events. These earrings by Katharina Kraus fit the bill perfectly, the right balance of sophistication and a hint of dazzle from the cut pink stone.

#3 Pewter and Jesmonite Hexagonal Elin Trinket Boxes ~ Heidi Carthew

Boxes make fabulous gifts for all, you can present another special item in them or simply pop in a note of love. These pewter and jesmonite terrazzo boxes by Heidi Carthew are the perfect keep sakes for all generations to use and enjoy on a daily basis.

#4 Handmade Sterling Silver Squirrel Pin Brooch ~ Katie Watson

I'm a huge fan of squirrels and brooches, so when I discovered Katie Watson's Squirrel brooch I simply fell in love. This piece spoke to me as the ideal gift as I can see all genders adorning this exquisitely chased squirrel on any lapel. 

#5 Silver and Blue Oval Reclaimed Wood Patterned Brooch ~ Caitlin Hegney

Brooches to me are like wearing small artworks and this piece by Caitlin Hegney supports my claim. A mixture of materials with seemingly simple inlaid silver dash marks in the wood, this brooch is another example of a piece that can be adorned by all for everyday occasions.

Read more

Louisa Pacifico's Top 5 Picks from Shine 2020

Posted by Isabel Keim on

Looking for that perfect hand-crafted Christmas gift by new talent? Louisa Pacifico, founder of Future Icons and a passionate supporter of craft and design, reveals her top favourites from this year's Shine 2020. 

#1 Handmade Single Curl 18ct Yellow Gold Stud Earrings ~ Ellys May Woods

Everyone needs staples within their jewellery collections which transcend time. The simple wave design in these elegant gold studs by Ellys May Woods can be matched to any outfit and suit day and night occasions.

#2 Gold, Moonstone and Rhodolith Pink Frost Earrings ~ Katharina Kraus

Along with your staples, I like to have a few special pieces within my jewellery collection for the 'wow' factor at important events. These earrings by Katharina Kraus fit the bill perfectly, the right balance of sophistication and a hint of dazzle from the cut pink stone.

#3 Pewter and Jesmonite Hexagonal Elin Trinket Boxes ~ Heidi Carthew

Boxes make fabulous gifts for all, you can present another special item in them or simply pop in a note of love. These pewter and jesmonite terrazzo boxes by Heidi Carthew are the perfect keep sakes for all generations to use and enjoy on a daily basis.

#4 Handmade Sterling Silver Squirrel Pin Brooch ~ Katie Watson

I'm a huge fan of squirrels and brooches, so when I discovered Katie Watson's Squirrel brooch I simply fell in love. This piece spoke to me as the ideal gift as I can see all genders adorning this exquisitely chased squirrel on any lapel. 

#5 Silver and Blue Oval Reclaimed Wood Patterned Brooch ~ Caitlin Hegney

Brooches to me are like wearing small artworks and this piece by Caitlin Hegney supports my claim. A mixture of materials with seemingly simple inlaid silver dash marks in the wood, this brooch is another example of a piece that can be adorned by all for everyday occasions.

Read more