Maker of the Month, featuring An Alleweireldt

Returning to our series of ‘Maker of the Month’ posts, here we feature An Alleweireldt. The post is written by fellow DJG member Shelby Fitzpatrick. Shelby visited An in her studio and conducted the interview below.

An in her studio
An in her studio

Shelby An, you have some international exhibitions on the horizon, beginning with COLLECT at the Saatchi Gallery in May. The stories behind these are interesting – stories of the work you have made for each of them and stories of the genesis of the events and your participation.

An For the second time I have been chosen by Design Flanders to represent Belgian Design at Collect in the Saatchi Gallery, 8-11th May 2015.  Design Flanders is not a gallery as such, but is government-funded and promotes Belgian Design through exhibitions, events and their website.

Last year was such a great experience, as Collect is an event with galleries from all over the world, representing their best makers. You get to see the most amazing applied arts, so come and visit while you get the chance!

In June I have been invited together with three other jewellers to exhibit in Gallery Si in Kobe, Japan. Two of the jewellers, Yoko Izawa and Sarah Lindsay, were fellow students at the RCA.

My partner Nicholas, has lived in Japan for three years – a long time ago – so we decided to make a trip out of it and see the exhibition for ourselves. It’s a great excuse to travel that far!  I am learning a few words in Japanese, as I know hardly anyone speaks English.  I love being able to communicate, even if it is very minimal….

Shelby How did your new work for these exhibitions develop?

An Design Flanders wanted a point of recognition from last years’ Collect on their stand, as I’m one of the only ‘repeat’ exhibitors. Therefore, I have chosen to elaborate on a theme I started last year, which was finding a balance between square and round. I tend to work a lot with shapes and how I can make them interesting, yet ergonomic. On top of that I like using unusual materials in combination with gold and silver.

I first met Gallery Si at Goldsmiths’ Fair and they were very much interested in my work containing colorful rubber. So there will be a lot of multi-colored work using rubber flooring, again exploring shapes.

Shelby  The first I saw of your work was at Craft Central.  I vividly remember your jewellery using wooden popsicle sticks and fragments of vinyl records.  How did you decide to work with these materials, and how to combine them with precious metals?

An I love working with different materials, to push their boundaries but also to work with their
limitations and different colours. I often find that it makes the work a lot more interesting and varied, but also there is also the added aspect or the story of the piece, which I love.
So the lollipop stick came along when I realised that most of my family cannot finish an ice cream because they get goose bumps licking the last bit of ice off the wooden stick. Together with that story I found the original long and rounded shape of the popsicle stick very pleasing, and also loved the fact of making something precious out of a disposable material. Some of these lollipop pieces were set with diamonds.

Shelby Now those wooden popsicle sticks have metamorphosed into gold and are used in new designs, but still with the repetitive simplicity of the original ideas.  Elaborate, please.

An When I made the lollipop pieces, people often thought that the brooches were made in a yellow metal. I guess they were not what people expected, but from a distance they have a similar colour tone as metal. Because gold is the exact opposite of the lollipops, I was curious to see what it would feel and look like in gold. The result was probably my first very expensive piece, which is quite a nice story having the cheapest material as an inspiration.

Shelby Back to the vinyl records – how did you choose which fragments of vinyl records would be
combined with the other materials?  Your concepts for the choices tell more stories – and give an extra dimension to the work.  Please tell us about these.

An The vinyl record was used because as I grew up records, and their contents were precious. Suddenly everyone started throwing away these invisible memories and replacing them with CDs and later digital music. I loved the idea that something could be made precious again and contain a little bit of data, where only the wearer knew what it was. I usually pick something close to the middle of the record, as the material has an interesting contrast where the grooves start on the PVC.

Shelby  Your training in Belgium in Product Design has given you a certain perspective.  How do you see this has evolved and influenced your jewellery?

An Very much so:- I love working with new techniques- I get inspired by materials – My jewellery always has to be comfortable to wear- The way jewellery is made is very important to me- I always look at cost and how I can make things more effective/economic etc. All these elements are incredibly important in the development of an industrial product. The difference to me is that my job is very varied and I do every aspect of the designing, making, photography, promoting and selling myself – which is never the case when you work as a product designer. I like this very much as every stage of this gives me new inspiration.

Shelby  With your simple shapes you incorporate brilliant colours – each with a clarity and purpose. How have you chosen such additions as coloured rubber, and what effect does this have on the work?

An To me it gives another dimension to the piece, as people are used to seeing jewellery made out of precious metals with precious stones. I like surprises and being surprised, it’s the same feeling I like to create when people see my work. Nothing is obvious.

Radishes
Radish Necklace 2006

Shelby Is it too early to look into the future and reveal the next materials to be explored?

An I think so, as at the moment I very much feel the need to expand further with the materials I have. They haven’t revealed all their secrets to me yet…. I don’t feel finished with them. Usually materials come on my path, I’ve never looked for them. Who knows, maybe my trip to Japan will bring something to me!

Shelby  You have particular skills in the technology of cad/cam design.  How important a part does this play in your current collection, and how do you see its use in your future?

An It’s very important for me, as it gives me the tools to quickly explore ideas without having to make pieces. I love 3d printing and the exactness/quickness of it all. To me it is more than the future, as it makes pieces much more economic, but it’s not the end all. There are a lot of designers who only use 3d modelling and churn out plastic shapes, which to me always feel a bit soulless. There has to be something else –  a surprise perhaps?

Shelby  Can you recall elements of your childhood experiences which have led to a career in creating jewellery?

An As long as I can remember I have used my hands and made things. My grandfather repaired
absolutely everything. I’m not sure if being frugal was the reason, though it might have been living and surviving during the war.  I remember a broken handle on a pair of scissors. He took the time to make the most beautiful wooden handle to make the scissors complete again. This to me was a great example of handicraft skills combined with an industrial product.
My brother is an engineer and as children we used to make a lot of camps. One was a tree hut complete with roof, windows, ladder, cupboard, table and chairs and containers to hold the candies we might get. I think we were 8 and 10. I did a lot of drawing as most girls do, but also made handbags, clothes, jewellery etc., anything that I could make.
So there is no real surprise I am still enjoying that!

You can see An’s work at Collect from the 8th till the 11th May 2015, and at the Barbican Centre from the 17th May to the 13th June 2015.

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Maker of the Month: Sarah Macrae

Returning to our series of ‘Maker of the Month’ posts, here we feature Sarah Macrae, who is currently Chair of the Designer Jewellers Group. The post is written by fellow DJG member Ulli Kaiser.

Sarah Macrae in her studio

 

 

 

 

Sarah studied Wood, Metal, Ceramics and Plastics (WMCP) at Brighton Polytechnic. She grew up with precious metals, with a respected jeweller parent – and although she knew she wanted to make things, she went to college not intending to become a jeweller herself. But the scale she found herself working took the decision more or less out of her hands.

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Sarah has a particular and strong interest in creating jewellery in which the function of the piece is integral to the design. Her penannulars, a universal ancient form of brooch that occurs in many different cultures, demonstrate this beautifully. The long pin is very much an essential part of the composition.

Sarah Macrae 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of her penannular brooches was presented to Princess Anne. It was reversible, made in silver and the ancient technique of Keum Bo, with one side oxidised whereas most others are in acrylic and silver.

Sarah’s inspiration to work in polypropylene, started with a commission for a pink necklace.

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Her recent work has been inspired by a visit to Sal isle, Cape Verde, when she revived a half dead Portuguese Man O’ War by putting it into a rock pool. She watched it re-inflate itself and reveal its bright pink edges.

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Polypropylene is a thermoplastic material with a large variety of uses and attributes. Along with lightness and strength, it can also be dyed which makes it the perfect material for Sarah to transfer her ideas into something tangible and tactile. She can create jewellery and larger scale work like this wall hanging made for the Making it Project.

Sarah Macrae hanging piece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah has always loved colour and during her career has made work using enamels, coloured woods, stone and acrylic and working in polypropylene did not restrict her use of colour. The inspirations she finds in looking at sea creatures and plants, anemones and jellyfish, but most of all, in the luminosity of colour under water, turn into light, fun to wear jewellery.Sarah Macrae anenomepiece

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah’s work will be available at the Pool House Gallery in the Quenington Sculpture Trust, from 14 June 2015 – 5 July 2015, at the Barbican during regular Designer Jewellers Group exhibitions, and privately to commission.

Maker of the month: Harriet St Leger

A glimpse behind the scenes into the work of DJG member  Harriet St Leger. Written by  Jan Truman with images by Christine Kaltoft and Paul Hartley.

On the shelves above her desk stand jars of enamel powder and a rainbow of test cards swing beside the kiln. COLOUR is a vital ingredient in Harriet’s work and her surroundings are full of it; even the grey kiln glows red anticipating her next selection of powdered enamel dust.

She has an intuitive eye for pattern making, nurtured over the years through a love of sketching. Note books are filled with observational drawings, doodles and photographs which through a process of stylization and refinement flourish into a myriad of designs. New techniques, materials and private commissions also keep her artistic spirit afloat.

Harriet’s  flamboyant style is fuelled by a passion for PATTERN and colour, so whether it’s drawing, creating, dancing, teaching or interacting with other people, the intricate shape of things around her become the inspirations for her work.

Asked why dancing is so important she answered  “it’s a fun way to keep fit. Jewellery making can be an intense, laborious and isolating activity so exercise is vital to keep the energy flowing. Dance is a great way to do this, plus it makes you feel good”.

Years of practice have honed this creative fusion… she makes it look easy!  But there are many stages to produce her fine enamelled work, plus skilful craftsmanship to co-ordinate the finished piece. Things such as hand cutting paper stencils, knowing the exact moment to open the kiln, and when or indeed “if” to apply another layer of colour!

Harriet trained at the Central College of Art, London (now Central St Martins) gaining a first class degree in Jewellery. Shortly afterwards she was awarded  a New Craftsman Grant from the Crafts Council, enabling the purchase of a small kiln and materials to develop her enamels.  Today Harriet’s jewellery is complemented by larger works, so in addition to traditional goldsmithing with precious metals, diamonds, gem stones and enamels, she also creates a range of bold and expressive wall panels.

Maker of the month: Ulli Kaiser

Here DJG member Sarah Macrae writes about Ulli Kaiser, one of our associate members.

Ulli has always had a strong interest in the physical activity of making, of learning new processes and skills. She loves the research into and around an idea and developing it through into three dimensions.

Ulli’s exquisite drawings of ideas continue to evolve through the making process, it is important for her that the creative process doesn’t stop with the drawing.

Ulli originally studied fine art, painting and textile art at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and then as now she enjoyed combining different materials. Life, marriage and children saw her living in Hong Kong teaching art at secondary level for a while and then moving to England. On a trip home to Austria to attend The Vienna Philharmonic Ball, Ulli’s husband bought her a beautiful delicate traditional bead crochet pearl necklace.

Inspirational beaded pearl necklace from Austria

The necklace fascinated Ulli and she researched the technique and taught herself to bead crochet. Developing the traditional form into Ulli’s exciting contemporary pieces involved many hours of practice, learning to crochet over three dimensional forms, as well as researching and sourcing antique and precious beads. Her ideas led her to further study at West Dean College to learn silversmithing skills enabling her to design and make pieces incorporating silver elements and fastenings with the bead crochet.

A course in narrative Jewellery with Barbara Christie at West Dean inspired Ulli to want to bring more symbolism and meaning into her pieces, and a second course with Zoe Arnold led to this necklace based on a story about a French explorer visiting Guyana in the 19th century (the image shows both the back and the front of the piece).

Ulli Kaiser journey to french guyana5

The recent ACJ (Association for Contemporary Jewellery) exhibition ‘Icons’ provided a perfect project for Ulli to work to, giving her an opportunity to immerse herself in researching her chosen ikon, Mary Shelley. The resulting beautiful and extraordinary piece is a wonderful combination of materials including silver, a victorian doll, paper, Perspex and, of course, beads.

Ulli Kaiser icon neckpiece

Ullis future plans are developing some new beautiful pieces to exhibit at the Goldsmiths’ Fair in October, which she is very excited to have been selected to take part in for the first time.

Maker of the Month: Kerry Richardson

Our maker of the month for June is Kerry Richardson, who’s work is inspired by observing the African landscapes where she grew up. Here she is interviewed by her husband Andre Goodison.

Andre: How have your recent African Bush Adventures influenced your recent latest work, based on the long term influence Africa has had on your work?

Kerry: The visual stimulation of Africa is always inspiring to me. A sunset, a tree, a found object, or even a building, triggers ideas. These trips highlight the simplicity of living and life. Bush-life has affected me deeply, and my soul longs for this simplicity.

 

Kerry Richardson 3

Andre: What impact has this had on your latest work?

Kerry: I have found recently that life is over complicated with possessions and technology. I have wanted to simplify my work to a simple shape, a stroke, a pale shadow or decoration.

Andre: What happened to the rich use of colour in your Keramika range?

Kerry: I still use precious metal lustres, but now they enhance the simplicity of my work, a pool of gold sunshine, or a sliver of silver light between shadows.

Andre: What made you decide to create multi-function pieces recently?

Kerry: I have always created versatile jewellery. The latest pieces are reversible and can be bought individually or placed together on a necklace, or on a chain of your own. I have also strung them onto long necklaces that can be worn shorter by doubling them over.

Andre: Where to next for your jewellery?

Kerry: I would like to create more freehand shapes in porcelain. I would like to further explore carved or pierced decoration, as well as the raised graphic drawing with clay and slips.

Andre: What is the bigger picture around your jewellery for the future?

Kerry: I am working on My Wearable Art in a 2-d picture format. This involves much larger work made up of multiple components, found objects, and other artworks, to create precious collages.

To view more of Kerry’s work visit her e-commerce website. Appointments are available and she will be hosting two open studio events at her workshop from the 28th-29th June and the 5th-6th July.

Post uploaded by Associate member Catherine Hendy.