I have always tried to make it clear that I am a designer, not a maker. In fact I only started designing as a preteen, bored in my parents meetings with workshops, so my entire practice and approach has been a little on the scatty and unorthodox side of things!
Increasingly my lack of bench skills and proper education in the world jewellery began to bother me and I could keenly feel the gaps in my knowledge so in March I enrolled on the Diploma in Jewellery Manufacture Level 2 at the British Academy of Jewellery (née Holts) and applied to BA Jewellery Design at Central Saint Martins where I will be heading in September. That covers all the bases, right?
I am starting a diary to show my tentative steps into the world of silversmithing (and show why I will continue to outsource a lot of the making!)
First up: engraving!Engraving ɪnˈɡreɪvɪŋ,ɛnˈɡreɪvɪŋ noun the process or art of engraving a design on a hard surface, especially to make a print.
Our first exercise was the 'wheel' on the right. It was supposed to be a Tudor rose design, it did not go well. As I started marking out the design with my dividers (a tool like a geometry compass but with points on both legs) and scribe (a pointy steel stick for marking) I was exceedingly optimistic. I thought I was going to nail this, then I would be able to offer on-the-spot engraving for my designs and not have the delay and expense of sending them to the professionals. I was so wrong. I struggled to hold the graver (another steel pointy stick but sharp and specifically for general engraving) so the thumb and index finger of my right hand ached horribly as I gouged inaccurate shapes into the copper and then skidded and stabbed my left hand repeatedly. The second exercise was the bunny, this was more successful but being made up of small, short lines means he was as technically challenging as painting by flicking a toothbrush and I still ruined his eye by trying to add more detail.
The second day of engraving came the following week. I was determined and so I purchased my own graver and Arkansas stone (a sharpening stone) - surely I could do better using my own graver, cut to the correct length for my hand rather then the old school supplies? The design was a thorny floral pattern, less likely to show up a lack of symmetry than the Tudor rose.
I love all the tools and processes that come with jewellery manufacture. So much has remained unchanged for hundreds or sometimes thousands of years. We were working on squares of copper sheet which we filed to remove the knife-sharp edges. (The metal should have a mirror polish before engraving but that would not be a good use of time at this level since the surface will to be covered in unintentional scratches imminently.) The Arkansas stone comes in a little wooden box which makes it feel like something precious in itself and the engraving is done leaning on a sandbag which is a little cushion of leather that looks like a piece of vintage cricket gear. The design was traced and then the reverse of the tracing paper was rolled with plasticine to leave a greasy residue which is lightly transferred onto the metal.
This design was better but still pretty dire. The marks here are made with the burnisher (a highly polished, curved-edged... well, it's another stick) which is used almost like a rubber to remove the dozens of unintentional lines. The burnisher is pressed firmly onto the copper and pushed back and forth in the same direction as the scratch and is surprisingly effective at pressing the metal together to make the lines less visible.
Day 3: unicorns!
On the third day I finally started to feel like I was making progress. I finally managed to grasp that engraving is not gouging and so the graver is only held as quite a shallow angle against the metal. The marks do not have to be extremely deep to make enough of an impression to survive polishing and then the line can flow a lot more smoothly as it would with a pencil. Except the position of the hands is completely removed from how you would hold a pencil and my fingers still hurt as I write this two days later. Conclusion; needs more work.
That's all for now!
I have realised that I ought to write when I visit a gallery.
Partly to force myself to take the time to reflect on what I have seen, to have a diary of particular pieces to reflect on and hopefully anyone who reads this might also want to go and check some of this stuff out! That said, I feel a bit pretentious, hence the title taken from Miriam Elia's fantastic tongue-in-cheek updates to the classic Peter and Jane Ladybird Books. (Now called Susan and John from Dung Beetle Books for... reasons.)
I've always preferred scarabs to ladybirds anyway...
20:20 Visions : Celebrating 20 Years of the ACJ opened today at the Goldsmiths Centre.
ACJ stands for Association for Contemporary Jewellers. They are keen to emphasis the 'for' rather than 'of' as it is the intention of the Association to be inclusive and varied with members including makers, designers, educators, students, galleries, museum curators, retailers and collectors. Their purpose is to promote greater understanding of contemporary jewellery, support jewellers' creative and professional development and develop audiences for this field through exhibitions and talks.
This exhibition has been launched to celebrate 20 years since the founding of the ACJ and is made up of two parts. 20:20 takes two works from prominent members and displays them alongside each other. One piece was created around 1997 and the other close to the present day. Visions displays the work of 31 of the nearly 500 current members. All of the pieces are wearable jewellery but other than that they vary hugely in scale, material, use of technology and method of construction.
The curator, Terry Hunt, is the ACJ chain and continues his own practice experimenting with surface pattern and colour in titanium and anodised aluminium.
Brooches from the Artery Series 2002 (left) and 2010
Materials: (left) silver, red beads (right) silver, pearls, pigment
Techniques: wire drawing, tube making, filing, soldering, wire drawing, sewing, painting.
I chose this pair of brooches because I tend to enjoy the blending of science and art, subjects which are so often placed on pedestals apart - or perhaps it is the lack of scientific knowledge that causes pieces that resemble medicals instruments to instil in me awe and wonder. The craftsmanship, to my limited knowledge, seems to have been finished to an impeccable standard and so the conceptual element does not jar with the physical quality of the pieces. Hogg seems to convey meaning economically with gestures like the pinch in the rim of the second brooch evoking the breech of a cell wall with a needle. The colour palette is just as minimal but powerful.
Materials: sterling silver, gold plating
Techniques: casting, fabricating
This piece interested me because, at this stage in my learning about jewellery manufacture, it feels like a magic trick in that I cannot see how it is done. I also like tessellation. The tessellating forms again suggest a machine/organic hybrid so it could be presented in a way that makes it quite uncanny. I like that the artist has chosen to to gold plate the inside of the tube which means that when the piece is laid straight it appears to be silver and requires manipulation to reveal the gold core.
Louise Seijen ten Hoorn
Materials: silver, steel
Techniques: carved, cast, constructed
This piece is probably my favourite. To me it works equally as a sculpture or worn as jewellery. When laid flat the circular band gives the figure an endless, mythical quality like Sisyphus at his endless task. The not-quite-human figure also has a dream-like quality like a character from Jorge Luis Borges or Hieronymous Boch.
Other awesome pieces...
Spirit brooch & ring 2014
Techniques: 3D Printed
Chain Dentata 2011
Materials: 24ct gold vermeil on fine and sterling silver, garnets, porcelain crowns
Techniques: Fabrication, wire-work, press-forming, stone setting, hand engravingThats all for now!Yasmin x
“An explosion of glitter and girls”
That is the tagline that Nylon Magazine gave when describing the video for Anteros' new track - The Beat and it couldn't be more true. This is the latest release from their upcoming EP, Breakfast.
Since the song is about defiantly striding through a break-up to come out stronger on the other side, frontwoman Laura Hayden filled the video with her own power-girl-gang which I was invited to be a part of.
And the glitter? As well as the glitter-dipped champagne bottles and the sequinned dresses, many of us were wearing my jewellery designs. In the Studio 54 scene I wore my Ray Collar and Earrings set while Laura wore her Saxony A Necklace which is now a regular feature in her stage costumes.
In the Sofia Coppola inspired scenes, each girl wears her Astrology Necklace with Laura in a custom mint green velvet choker.
And now that the video has been released, I can finally share some of my behind the scenes snaps... but I will save that for another blog!
We are now in the thick of festival season and Laura Hayden is spending all summer on tour with Anteros so she's got her festival style down to a tee! She was interviewed by Who What Wear and gave a shout out for her Saxony A Necklace:
"My friend, jewellery designer Yasmin Everley, gave me this necklace she designed for my birthday, [and I] have not taken it off ever since. It will be my good luck charm when we play,"
I met Stuart in a glitter-filled tent in the middle of a field in Suffolk last summer. (It was a music festival.) About six months later I heard from again - he had decided to propose to Anna and wanted to me to help him create a bespoke and personal design!
When we first started talking we had a few basic starting points: to use a sustainable diamond taken from a vintage piece of jewellery, to have an Art Deco element, and to use rose gold. We discussed a cushion cut diamond flanked by two trillion cut rubies in white gold settings on a rose gold band. A very pretty design, but not with the unique wow factor that Stuart was looking for.
I then spent a couple of weeks studying vintage styles that Anna liked. She had some useful boards on her Pinterest so I was able to get more of an idea of her style without having met her and without her having any idea what we were planning!
I came up with three styles for Stuart to consider:
The first design came out of our first conversation, the second was an update on late Victorian styles and the third blended elements of the Victorian and Art Deco, combining stylised floral patterns with bold 1930s shapes - this is the one Stuart was immediately drawn to. So I got down to working out the details and gathering a selection of vintage stones to view.
Everything was sent to be handmade in my London workshop and after an impatient wait...
It is so exiting to see the two dimensional designs elevated to a real, stunning piece! The central diamond is a 0.43ct Old European cut taken from an antique brooch set into a distinctive hexagon. The four leaf-like shapes each contain a tiny diamond and have a millgrain edging as a nod to vintage design. The ring is made from a sumptuously warm 9ct rose gold which we preferred to 18ct to achieve the richer colour.
I think we were all quite emotional when Stuart came to collect his engagement ring and the next couple of weeks I anxiously waited to hear how the proposal went - she said yes!