Before finally establishing myself as a jewellery designer, I spent 20 years talking and dreaming about it – and, for me, it was always going to be animals, and it was always going to be silver. My designs reflect a childhood passion for wild animals and the natural environment and, in my pieces, I try to capture the true spirit of the creatures (or plants) that have inspired me. For this reason, I model my subjects from scratch – working from portfolios of photographs showing unusual angles of each creature. This enables me to understand the full 3-dimensional image of the creature and model as close as I can to its actual shape – undersides included. As my pieces are meant as a celebration of our wonderful wildlife, no actual creatures are used in the casting process.
I am a jewellery designer with a love of the unusual and will always strive for my designs to stand out in terms of design and quality. I also see great beauty in simplicity: objects and shapes – beautiful in their own right without the need for further adornment – and this is strongly reflected in my jewellery. I am much more likely to leave detail out than to add yet more.
Losing my collection of jewellery (in a burglary) made me realise how much I owned, which I could only really wear on so-called special occasions. So now I strongly believe that beautiful jewellery should not be locked away and kept for best. I design my jewellery to be worn (and hopefully admired!) every day, with a myriad of different outfits and to suit every occasion from gracing the red carpet to popping to the supermarket!
My jewellery is made in sterling silver using traditional silversmithing and lost wax casting techniques, and is hallmarked.
Among the many fascinating conversations I have with people about their different animal passions and experiences, I am often asked how I achieve what I achieve. So here is a whistle-stop tour of lost wax casting…
There are essentially 2 ways of modelling in wax: in simple terms, you can either start with a large block of wax and carve it down. The other method, which is the one I use, is to start with a small piece of wax and build the shape up by continually melting drops of wax onto the piece and scraping and shaping it. It is a long and concentrated process… my stag beetle took a full week to model!
The model then gets sent to the casting house (I use AA Fine Castings) who then add sprues and make a rubber mould. The mould allows you to make unlimited copies of the original wax – and therefore cast multiple copies of the original piece. They then take these waxes and affix them on to a big wax tree formation – ready for the casting process.
The next stage in the process is to surround the wax models by an investment which is hardened and then heated to allow the wax to completely melt away. This then leaves a void in the hardened investment – into which molden metal (silver in my case) is poured. This metal then takes the exact form of the original wax model.
Evidently, the process is very much more complicated than this but it should at least give you an inkling of the complexity behind a simple pendant. For my part, receiving the freshly cast piece is when the work really begins – with cutting, filing, soldering, pickling and hours of polishing ahead. Even the smallest of pieces take upwards of 2 hours to finish, the larger ones many more.
This image shows an example of just a portion of the pieces prepared for a major show. So you will understand that I am always really eager for a fair to start – partly because it gives me a welcome break from polishing!