I had the exquisite treat of visiting the New Designers exhibition in Islington last week to see the jewellery and precious metalwork of the graduating year, from no fewer than 14 universities and colleges from across the British Isles. Billed as the hotbed for innovation and creative ideas, it certainly didn’t disappoint!

To support students in that tricky first year out of college, the GoJD is awarding free Gold memberships to the three students whose work best reflects the mood of our times.  The package of benefits, from supplier discounts to PPL insurance and promotion in the Designer Directory will provide some help to the newly graduated artists. The support from a network of other jewellers and the chance to be able to write and publish articles to the Guild should enhance the SEO on their websites and increase opportunities for networking.

As I perused the stands looking for potential winners , I wasn’t just looking for beautifully finished and well designed pieces; I was also looking for work that showed design innovation and a difference in thought. One other consideration was that the jewellery should be wearable, with a strong commercial element.
We were looking for students who were keen to immediately pursue a vocation as a jewellery artist/maker and who already had an ecommerce website – we wanted to ensure that we gave the awards to students who would best use the facilities on offer.

The winners will be announced soon, but until then, here is a sample of my own personal highlights from New Designers 2011:

Kirsten Hendrich – Farnham, University College for the Creative Arts
Kirsten told me that her inspiration comes from daily walks with her dog in the English countryside, examining the minutiae of nature. She translates her ideas into wearable unique pieces of jewellery through experimentation at her workbench.
The thing that first attracted me to Kirsten’s stand were the swathes of handmade chains draped across her display. Each link was unique and beautifully finished in an array of different styles. She spoke passionately about the importance to her of making chains and ensuring that each piece of her jewellery was entirely handmade.

 

Daniela Cardillo – National College of Art and Design
Daniela is concerned with finding beauty and utility in death and discard.
“I'm intrigued by the components that make up a creature. When an animal dies, these parts lose their sense of function, and can then be studied and appreciated for their true aesthetics”
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I approached Daniela’s jewellery with anticipation; from a distance I could see gold, pearls and the delicacy of very fine jewellery. Drawing closer I discovered some skeletal like contours within the pieces, but still the feel of something very precious. I asked her what her bracelet was actually made of.
“Oh, those are the jaw bones of mice”, she replied in a matter of fact way.
Ah.
They’re electroformed and gold plated before being incorporated into her jewellery.
“And what’s this cord at the back?” I ask.
“That’s horsehair”.
Umm. Okay.    
“Go on, pick it up! Stretch it!” she urges. So I do and it feels amazing because it is so beautifully constructed and so well designed that it flows over my hand like a fold of silk.
Daniela became interested in Victorian mourning jewellery and researched the hair weaving techniques that they used. She must have researched it very well because this section of horsehair stretches with the tension and regularity of a well tempered spring, and yet I can see and feel its organic nature.
In less than a minute and a half I have moved from mild trepidation to feeling that I really, really want to wear her jewellery.
It is natural and respectful: beautifully constructed and finished.

Julia Schreckenbach – National College of Art and Design

Julia has fashioned a collection of bold, statement pieces with a surprising delicacy and lightness of touch.  Her pieces wrap around the body so easily that you would hardly know they were there, and yet they still manage to make a bold statement. My absolute favourite was a silver brooch that rests delicately on the garment, held invisibly by magnets concealed in clothing.

 

Nicola Crawford – UCA Rochester

Nicola's script collection examines the use of text as a decorative form. The idea was inspired by a letter, written during the Second World War, that Nicola found in an antique shop.  The letter had been kept for many years, treasured, possibly read and re read many times. Nicola said “This made me think about the way we communicate with friends and loved ones today. Text messages and emails can never convey the same feelings as a handwritten letter. They can’t be held in the hand or treasured and are usually deleted quite quickly.”

Noel Keith Micallef - UCA Rochester
The work by designer maker Noel K. Micallef employs both hand making techniques and technology together, in order to create a collection of versatile pieces that are aesthetically clean and have a playful undertone.
I have to tell you about Noel’s coffee pot. I stared at it for at least twenty seconds before realising that it was a coffee pot and not just a superbly crafted objet d’art. Noel encouraged me to hold the pot as if I were pouring.  It fitted my hand better than a glove, regardless of whether it was my left or right. The insulating panels on the sides and lid are interchangeable and Noel is able to make them in any colour and shade of the client’s choosing. Holding Noel’s coffeepot has certainly made me consider increasing my coffee consumption.

Chris Castillo - UCA Rochester
Chris has a strong and never ending passion for designing and working with a range of precious metal objects and 3D work.  His specialization is in jewellery making and love for ornamental and functional form comes from inspiration of contemporary architecture.
‘Enthusiastic’ is too light a word to describe Chris’ relationship with his work. He spoke with zeal about the pieces he was creating and his ideas for future projects; it was clear from the quality and profusion of his work that he is a young man with a very bright future.

Elizabeth R.A. – Sheffield Hallum
Elizabeth’s collection of jewellery developed from her exploration into seeds, preciousness and transformation. Seeds or stones are dispersed and revealed by using a range of materials. These materials erode over time to reveal the precious silver underneath. An important element of this collection is the creation of bespoke silver chains.
Elizabeth has created a powerful statement with her collection, whilst maintaining elegance and wearability. I asked her why she had chosen to plate her sterling silver jewellery with copper – shouldn’t it be the other way around? She explains to me that when the copper plating has worn away the owner will be left with something more precious. Nice idea.

Sophie Marsden – Truro College
Sophie’s current collection of pieces are manipulated by hand out of single sheets of silver. These have been inspired by geometry and the symmetry in nature. She based her designs on geometric principles and has used texture and form to create pieces of jewellery that are both elegantly simple yet infinitely profound.
Sophie’s rings are little masterpieces. The really beautiful touch that can’t be seen in this photograph is that the inside of the ring band is beautifully embellished. The really amazing thing about her rings is that the only thing keeping them together is the physical shape of the metal. No solder, no rivets, no fusing, just lovely mini feats of engineering.

Marsha Drew - Truro College
After discovering fold forming to be a highly inspiring and enjoyable technique, Marsha designed a collection of jewellery using this system of shaping and texturing silver, to refect the fluid lines found in nature, particularly the movement of the ocean. This simple process has led her on to create a subtle collection of feminine, three dimensional jewellery.

 

Lauracet Cowan – Duncan of Jordanstone College
Lauracet’s work is an autobiographical study of her past relationships, taking words and phrases that were said to her and translating them into pieces of jewellery that the wearer can empathise with. She aims to question perceptions on value by asking: 'What's more important? Sentimental or monetary value?'
Lauracet’s jewellery is very bold, very beautiful and quite surprising! Her collegue can see me eyeing her stand and approaches, encouraging me to ‘squeeze’ her jewellery. “Go on, she won’t mind at all”, she exclaims. It’s at this point that I realise that those huge gold links aren’t gold at all, but silicon and they do have quite a squidgy quality! This doesn’t detract from the perceived value of her pieces though, as they are so beautifully made with very careful attention to detail. Lauracet is an enthusiastic designer with great taste.

Merlin Planterose - Duncan of Jordanstone College

The chains are made from sterling silver and have been entirely hand made with each link individually hammered to give it a more distressed look. The bowls are formed from fine silver using hand raising, but using stones as tools. The elements on the necklaces and other pieces are made in the same way using fine silver.

 

 

Josephine Adebolu – London Metropolitan University
Josephine uses a wide variety of mixed materials including leather, Perspex, wood, textiles, ceramics and precious metals.  An ability to manipulate these materials to explore and push the limits and boundaries of her imagination allows additional flexibility in her range of designs.
Josephine produces exquisitely finished jewellery - really exquisite. She excitedly shows me her ‘catwalk piece’ and speaks with the confidence of a young lady who knows exactly what she is doing and exactly where she is going.  This girl is sorted.

Cecilia Wong – Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design
I admire the fineness and elegance of the Rococo period and my collection involves two elements – flowers and lace. Flowers reflect a character of fantasy and lace is the elegance – refinement and glamour. The whole collection is a definition of delicacy.

 

 

 


Rosie Hofman - Birmingham City University

Rosie Hofman is an adventurous designer maker who thrives off being original in approach and creating unique treasures. Her collection ‘Talis’ is constructed using intriguing components that interact with each other; this interaction and movement gives the collections a mechanical yet organic quality. The pendent can be taken apart so the wearer can change the configuration and number of components, allowing the customer creativity.
Rosie’s inspiration comes from her doodles that are a cocktail of inspirations developed throughout her creative life. She enjoy the contrast between the symmetry of mathematics and the random patterns of nature.

 

 

The three winners will be announced shortly, after some very careful consideration!

Jayne Coulson

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Hockley

Birmingham

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