Maker of the Month: Sarah Herriot

Our Maker of the Month for May is Sarah Herriot. Here she is interview by fellow group member Emma Farquarson.

You can see both Sarah and Emma’s work in the Handmade in Britain Contemporary Crafts and Design Fair 9th – 11th May, Chelsea Old Town Hall, and in the Made in Clerkenwell open studios 16th – 18th May, as well as at our Designer Jewellers Group stand in the Barbican Centre, every day now until 1st June, 12 midday till 8pm.

Sarah Herriot in her studio

 Emma: I understand that being a jeweller is a second career for you. Does your first career impact on your work at all?

Sarah: Absolutely! I find computer language very easy to comprehend because of my previous career as a computer software designer.   I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life trapped in an office so I decided to start making jewellery at night classes. I started to run a workshop alongside my job. I then started selling work in shops and eventually decided to take the plunge and go full-time. Early on I got on a mentoring project and they funded me to study CAD (computer aided design). This was a godsend to me as it’s allowed me to express myself and articulate my ideas. It gave me a particular style, which is immediately identifiable as mine. I would only use CAD when it is appropriate to the design, and I often hand make work as well. I changed career in my forties and can highly recommend it.

Emma: Can you say a bit more about how you approach your work?

Sarah: When approaching my work, I am usually thinking about deconstructing forms. For example with my egg rings; I started with the egg shape as a template, and then started breaking it up into different patterns and sections. There are quite a few in the series, studded with rods, sliced, twisted etc. Now when I see a pattern I like, I wonder if I can put it against my egg template, or maybe another piece of work I have already designed. I enjoy using repeating geometric patterns and twist motifs.

wibbly wobbly drawings Sarah Herriot

Emma: A lot of your work is inspired by geometric patterns. How do you translate them into jewellery?

Sarah: I am very inspired by the urban environment, putting my own organic twist on it. I look for ideas everywhere. The escalator range, which started with one egg dividing into two rings, was cut with a pattern I saw on drain guards in the Great Court of the British Museum, so it can really come from anywhere, although I have found it quite difficult to work in the countryside for some reason!

Emma: We were delighted to see that you recently won an award in the Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council Craftsmanship and Design Awards. What inspired you to design your award winning silver ‘splash’ ring?

Mood board Sarah Herriot

Sarah:  I was doing a design project on an advanced course for sculpting in CAD. I was looking at pictures of waves, and was inspired by the smooth rolling of water and the linear spray created by the sea crashing on the rocks. The finger becomes the natural curl of the wave, and the spray splashes out from between the two fingers – utilising the middle space between two fingers. There is a lot more work for me to do with this idea, using stones, translating it into a necklace, pendant and earrings and more ring styles in the same vein. A jewellery designer’s work is never done!

Splash ring Sarah Herriot

Emma: How do you think the climate for contemporary jewellery has changed since you started in 2005?

Sarah: I think it has changed considerably. There is a large group of people out there who are really interested in the maker and the process, as well as the piece. I think that customers are seeking out personal involvement to add an intrinsic value to their jewellery purchase, even if it just chatting to the maker, or just knowing that a person has made something by hand, rather than it just coming off a conveyer belt.

Post uploaded by Associate member Henrietta Fernandez

Maker of the Month: Michael Carpenter

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.

Michael Carpenter has been associated with the Designer Jewellers Group since 1981, Fellow member Kerry Richardson asks the questions.

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.

Michael's book 1972

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.

Michael's workshop outside

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.