Welcome to the first post of our new feature ‘Maker of the Month’! Look out for updates about each of our Designer Jewellers Group members.
KR: What got you interested in making Jewellery?
MC: My step father was a small collector of silver, and I became intrigued by the Hallmarks of the items he had. From this I thought I would like to become a silversmith. But during my foundation year at art college, I started making small bits of jewellery, very much enjoyed that and went on to a 3 year degree course in jewellery design in Birmingham.
KR: Did you start your own business after you left college?
MC: No, I worked in the jewellery trade in London for 7 years, and was lucky
enough to work for a number of firms, from a cheap fashion manufacturer,
through to a repair workshop, a model maker and a high end Diamond Jewellery
Designer. I then moved to Suffolk in 1984 and set up my own workshop.
KR: How did you go about making a living when you set up your workshop in Suffolk?
MC: Well I made a small collection of work that I exhibited at The Earls
Court trade show, on a stand with other members of the Designer Jewellers
Group, and this started me selling my work into outlets around the country.
I did this for a number of years, eventually taking a stand of my own which
i continued up until 2008. I had about 85 outlets for my jewellery at one
time. I still continued to do various exhibitions too. I also opened a
gallery next door to my workshop in October 2004, Spiral Gallery.
KR: Has it been worthwhile opening Spiral Gallery?
MC: Oh yes, when we opened nearly 10 years ago I was still very much locked into the wholesale side of things. But as my outlets decreased, I found that the gallery took on a more significant role, and of course it is retail. I found that I was getting interesting commissions coming in and repairs and restyling work, and my experience of working in the jewellery trade side stood me in good stead, and so I am confident to tackle most things that come in. It is also great to be able to sell the work of other jewellers like myself.
I found I enjoyed meeting clients and customers, and this I feel has had a beneficial effect on my own work. It has also given me time to develop some larger pieces of jewellery, which I get to show at exhibitions, such as with the Designer Group at the Barbican.
KR: What are you working on at the moment?
MC: Well I am working on a commission for a client who wants a pendant in the form of a pair of hands in silver holding a pearl on a matching pearl necklace.
I am also working on a neckpiece consisting of beads that I have had in stock for a while. I have decided to use up materials that I have accumulated over the years.