Makers' Stories

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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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

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.

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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.

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