We have a William Morris quote pinned up in our kitchen ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’ I really like it, although recently it caused a squabble between my daughters: one had accused the other of not meeting the criteria of either category and was busy packing her sibling’s clothes into a suitcase!
It is a quote that comes into my thoughts as I reflect on the nature and meaning of my work. Christmas is fast approaching and the pressure is on here in the workshop to come up with beautiful jewellery that has a meaning for the giver and recipient. My job is to ensure it matches every expectation.
It doesn’t have to be a complicated story – it could just be that one person wants to show another how much they care or show a commitment to another or perhaps it could be a memory of a special time using found objects. The story behind my own collections and one-off pieces, is very much mine, but I find the pieces resonate with others and they enjoy wearing them.
For Christmas this year I have extended my ‘Honey Makers’ collection. This is a jewellery collection of pendants, earrings, cufflinks and rings inspired by our hard-working honey making friends: bees and my passion for ethically sourced materials.
As a child I used to spend time with my Grandfather, who was a keen bee keeper. My memories of helping with the bees are good and pain-free ones. Spinning the combs to release the golden honey was like performing a magic trick. And being handed a dripping chunk of sweet honeycomb to eat out-classed any bowl of ice-cream or bar of chocolate!
The jewellery speaks of the importance of taking care of our natural world and bees in particular who are suffering with many set-backs.This message is echoed by the ethos of the fair-trade materials that every piece is made from.
I source any new precious metals and gems as ethically as possible. I believe that a piece of jewellery, which is inevitably bestowed with a positive meaning and sentiment, needs to be created from materials that have not caused suffering and destruction.
In ‘The Honey Makers’ the little bees I make from silver and gold are complimented with honey-coloured drops of Baltic amber. The choice was easy; amber is the colour and translucency of honey and is ethically sourced. Because amber is easy to drill, carve and polish, I am able to shape it and rivet the gold and silver bees directly onto it. Amber is fossilised pine tree resin and because it is formed from living matter, it is know as an ‘organic’ gemstone. It is an interesting gem, with many less valuable imitations (plastic, bakelite, reconstituted amber and copal resin) One of the tests for authentic amber is the distinctive warm and woody aromatic scent given off when burnt with a hot needle.