We were delighted when jeweller Becky Crow agreed to be our guest blogger this month. As well as being a totally fabulous jeweller and all round lovely person, Becky is also a most eloquent writer.
Stories or poems are captured in silver and transformed into miniature scenes telling out across the surface of a brooch or hanging as a pendant. Recently a new forest of jewellery has sprung up inhabited by woodland creatures. Trees in copper and silver are identified by shape, leaf and bark. In their shade foxes stalk pheasants and the occasional person wanders through.
Previously people have been the focus and questions about where we fit in the world were asked by the pieces; what journeys are we on? Who are we connected to? What spheres do we move through or circles of influence do we have?
Alongside other pieces follow different themes; some are just playful accessories, and some take inspiration from the natural world- a flight of birds, butterflies in summer, the jewellery resonant with memories of watching these things.
I work with sheet silver, and copper with some small amounts of gold for detailing. The metal is pierced out, I will then apply textures or patterns to the surface using a
rolling mill and templates. These components are then layered together and soldered. The pieces are finished with a mixture of matt, oxidised and polished surfaces to add depth and tone.
What do you love most about being a jeweller?
I didn’t set out to be a jeweller, and I’m still sometimes surprised that people want to
wear the things that I make. For me it has always been about creating pictures, and a
sense of narrative. Nearly all my work starts as a drawing. These are often literally
translated from the page into a piece of jewellery, in the first instance usually a brooch
then the other pieces evolve from there. I enjoy that process; taking a sketch and turning
it into something semi three dimensional, working out how it could be worn and which
elements could develop into other pieces.
But I guess what I love most is when someone sees a piece of my work and connects with it, it evokes a memory, reminds them of a place or a person or a story and they can take away an object that holds that significance for them.
What or who has been the biggest influence on your work?
I think I have to give a nod here to my Art teacher Christine Brittan at my inner London
Comprehensive. Without her arrival at our school, teaching GSCE and A level art with a
slightly maverick enthusiasm and dedication I probably never would have pursued a pathway in the Arts. She started the process of teaching me how to think creatively, giving me free reign to experiment in 2D and 3D in a variety of media and putting at our disposal
her extensive Art Library which gave all of us a broad base of Art history and a rich
visual palette of influence.
These days my influences are generally Illustrators, Printmakers, Paper-cutters and Puppeteers, I’m a sucker for a beautifully illustrated book; The Red tree by Shaun Tan being one of my top rated. The work of the puppet maker Stephen Mushin is also entirely captivating.
If you could chose a figure from history or public life to wear your jewellery who would it be and why?
C.S. Lewis– Although I can’t quite imagine him wearing jewellery. He was a gifted storyteller, his tales have accompanied me from childhood into adulthood and have not lost their magic.
If you could own a piece by another maker working in any discipline, no price limit, what would you choose and why?
A couple of pieces sprang to mind although I’m sure the list would be pretty long if I sat down and gave it some serious thought, but for now I’d go with a Tom Aylwin Downland Chest. He’s a fellow member of the Sussex Guild and these chests are beautiful; they echo the contours of the landscape and feel amazing to run your hand over.
Alternatively a Bruce Aitken clock. The workmanship in these pieces is inspiring, I remember seeing one for the first time about 4 years ago at Art in Action and they are exquisite and fascinating, as much a moving sculpture as a working clock.
How do you like to relax after a day in the studio?
I do different things on different days, including silent meditation and choral singing on Mondays, playing football on Wednesdays and an outdoor circuit training class on Thursdays. Whilst I’d love to say I regularly walk on the Downs or go sea kayaking this happens a lot less frequently than I’d like. Be reassured that you’d be more likely to just find me hanging out with my chickens in the back garden, sitting round the table for
dinner with my husband, killing time on the internet or settling down to watch some sort of DVD box set. Tonight I’m filling in this questionnaire…..
If you were not a jeweller what would you like to be and why?
If I were taking a sideways step within creative industry perhaps not unsurprisingly I
would be an illustrator or a puppet maker. But if life had taken a different route I think
perhaps I would be working in Palliative Care. The first proper job I had was working in a
day centre at a Hospice, and I went on to work in Elderly care whilst I was at University
and in the first few years of setting up my business. I consider it a great privilege to
have cared for people nearing the end of their life. Helping people maintain their
dignity, taking the time talk, giving someone the possibility of the best possible,
peaceful death, I could choose that as my alternative career.
Where in the world is your dream holiday destination and why?
I’ve spent the last 6 years holidaying in Scandinavia with my husband doing a mixture of trekking, sea kayacking, canoeing and dog-sledding, the freedom to wild camp there and the wilderness keeps drawing us back. Being out in the wide, wild, uninhabited grandeur of
nature definitely does it for me. With that in mind New Zealand seems a good choice, it could have been Canada but I think the bears might inhibit that sense of freedom!