For over 20 years I have been making one-off pieces of jewellery. Natural colours and materials feature prominently and the pieces can incorporate materials as diverse as exotic hardwoods, bone, fish leather, shagreen and precious metals, together with precious and semi-precious stones.
Many of the pieces are hand carved using a dental laboratory drill. This is a laborious process of attrition and it may take days or weeks to finish a single piece. My aim is to produce intriguing designs and often one piece of jewellery will open up to reveal another. Alternatively the jewellery may be displayed on its own stand or concealed in its own box.
My most ambitious pieces so far have included a wooden pocket watch and a case of curiosities. Four lids on the case open to reveal 11 pouches, each one containing a curious object. These range from the pre-historic, through the ancient, to the futuristic. Some are literally from out of this world, some a record of creatures that have inhabited our earth in the distant past and others were created by natural phenomena. Some were created in an instant, and others evolved over millions of years.
I also work with my wife and business partner Dawn to make more accessible jewellery. For many years we have made a range of asymmetrical metal jewellery. The materials used are un-hallmarked silver, brass and semi-precious stones. Rather than making matching partners, an opal, garnet, moonstone, amethyst, or piece of amber will be used on one earring, while the other will have some brass decoration.
What do you love most about being a jeweller?
The process of taking basic materials and working on them to convert them into objects that other people value enough to give me money. Oh yes, and going to work in my slippers!
What or who has been the biggest influence on your work?
The design of many of the things that I make are influenced by decisions dictated by the processes used. This can give them a feeling of being made at another time by another people who have had the materials influence their decisions as well. The person who has influenced me most was David Hensel who let me work in his workshop at the start of my career.
If you could chose a figure from history or public life to wear your jewellery who would it be and why?
I would happily donate my wooden pocket watch to Isambard Kingdom Brunel to use and wear, simply because I was taught to admire his many achievements by my father who was also an engineer.
If you could own a piece by another maker working in any discipline, no price limit, what would you choose and why?
Damien Hirst’s diamond encrusted skull so I could flog it and sip margaritas in the sun!
As maybe that is not an answer in the spirit of the question however then I really admire the lampworked glass of Kristina Logan.
How do you like to relax after a day in the studio?
After having a nice meal I will often spend the evening working on the computer trying to sell jewellery or go back into the workshop to make glass beads as a hobby. For a night out I go to see comedy gigs.
If you were not a jeweller what would you like to be and why?
I find it difficult to imagine an alternative career. I don’t have a “plan B” as such but maybe designing websites or computer animation would be possibilities. Alternatively I might enjoy the solitude of panning for gold in New Zealand or mining opals in Coober Pedy.