Designer Jewellers Group at the Barbican Shop – Meet the Makers 12th DEC 2016

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Come and join us celebrating this Christmas!

Meet the makers

12 DEC 6-8pm

Barbican Shop 


Join us for the Designer Jewellers Group’s winter showcase.

Featuring innovative work from the UK’s leading creative designers, renowned for their exceptional use of techniques, styles and materials, on show will be jewellery in a range of styles from the traditional to the contemporary. 

Ideal for Christmas gifts, all the work on display is for sale for as little as £30. This is your chance to find the perfect gift for someone special.

Open daily in the Barbican Shop, level G.

For more information visit designerjewellersgroup.co.uk


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Karen Elizabeth Donovan

Mike Carpenter spoke to new designer Karen Elizabeth Donovon, currently exhibiting with the Designer Jewellers Group at the Barbican London.

Karen Elizabeth Donovan at work at ECA

MC: Hi Karen, what inspires you to make jewellery and what materials do you use?

KED: I have come to appreciate the importance of heather as a significant fixture in the landscape of Scotland, where I live and have my workshop. I use titanium in my jewellery and I feel that heather and titanium share certain aspects of strength, durability springiness and is lightweight and can have subtle colour variations.

Titanium presents wonderful challenges to overcome and work around, and gives strength to delicate wirework and piercing. Colour and pattern are integral to my work and are developed through close study of plants and created by the attributes of titanium. As my work continues to develop, I have incorporated more gold, which historically held its own role in the ever-changing Scottish landscape. I find the disparity between gold and titanium to be fascinating and continue to work on this relationship.

All my work is made completely by hand, I bend all the wire into the shapes I use just with a pair of pliers. I then connect it all together and anodize it to give it the beautiful colours.

WEB Karen Elizabeth Donovan Lace Collar 2015 Shannon Tofts Photography

MC: How has 2015 been for you?

KED: I have spent the last year doing a residency at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). I did my masters at ECA and it was good to stick around for another year developing new work and a distilled version of my degree work. Over the year I have been creating for exhibitions, developing new collections and most importantly working with students.

While at ECA I applied for and was awarded a grant from Creative Scotland for research and professional development. This grant allowed me to travel to Italy back in July to study alloying with Giovanni Corvaja. The reason I went to work with Giovanni was to learn how to alloy gold. When working with titanium I have a nearly endless choice of colours to use and can create a range or a change in colour through the piece. I wanted to use more gold in my work, but keep the colour changes. With Giovanni I was able to create a range of colours in gold with different ratios of metals. Each of these alloys have very different properties and uses. I am still working through this research, but I was able to create this chain pictured, which is based on previous designs in titanium but made entirely in 18 ct gold. I am hoping in time that my designs will develop relating the two colour ranges, using gold and titanium together. While the colours in gold are subtler than those in titanium they do seem to work well together.

I started the year off receiving the New Designers’ Goldsmiths’ Company Award for Jewellery and was overwhelmed by exhibition requests. I had a very busy autumn and was ecstatic to be recognised by the Goldsmiths’ Company. In January when it was a bit quieter I travelled to London to take part in the ‘Getting Started’ programme at the Goldsmiths’ Centre in Clerkenwell which was an amazing course and a great chance to meet not only important people in the industry but also my peers from across the country.

Back in September I was awarded an Enterprise Initiative Grant from the University of Edinburgh’s Launch.ed Office, which supports UoE Entrepreneurs of all disciplines. I used the grant to attend and exhibit at the Society of North American Goldsmiths’ conference.

MC: What are your future plans?

KED: While I am no longer at ECA I am hoping that the year I spent there has taught be how to balance creating for selling and personal research. I am looking forward to continuing my research into historical techniques and balancing them with the much more modern use of titanium, and more fully connect to the historical jewellery forms I am so fascinated by.

I look forward to exhibiting the new works which I have been creating with that new knowledge.

MC: Thanks Karen, we look forward to seeing the fruits of that research.

Karen’s jewellery is on display and for sale in the Designer Jewellers Group pop-up shop in the Barbican Centre, London, every day now until 23rd December 2015.

Morna Darling

Designer Jewellers Group member Jo McAllister interviews new designer Morna Darling.

Morna Darling Portrait

JM: What made you decide to become a jeweller and where did you train?

MD: I have always loved drawing and making things and with jewellery there is so many possibilities of materials, scale and concepts, this definitely attracted me to studying it. Being taken to Dazzle by my parents during the Edinburgh Festival was also a definite attraction as there was so much exciting work. I trained at Glasgow School of Art which I really enjoyed, especially my fourth year when I had free reign to really develop and explore my jewellery skills.

JM: Describe where you do most of your creative work.

MD: I do most of my creative work in my studio which I share with two other makers. I love working with materials and making samples and test pieces before I finalise my designs and sitting at my bench is where this happens. I also occasionally takeover my kitchen table with my sketchbooks, I love to draw and collage and it’s a great calm place to do it.

JM: What are you currently working on?

MD: I’m currently working on a few commissions for Christmas and continuing to develop my current collections.

JM: What are the key themes in your work?

MD: I like to make pieces with texture, pattern and colour. My work is inspired by fabrics and clothing. I am interested in representing the qualities of cloth such as layering, threading, folding and the patterns found within it. Pattern making is hugely important in my process and I am fascinated with the structural repeated elements of fabric and how to emulate these in my jewellery. Using different materials from my source allows playful exploration of how to create aspects of textiles whilst not actually including them in my work.

JM: What would you like people to notice about your work?

MD: I think I would like people to notice the different ways I combine precious and non precious materials and how they can work so well together.

Morna Darling

JM: What attracts you to the material(s) you work in?

MD: I work with silver, plastic and copper. I’m attracted to the plastic because of the soft, organic forms I can create with what is actually a hard material. It also means I have the opportunity to add colour to my pieces. I also patinate copper to turn it blue, joining this with silver is one of my favourite combinations.

Morna Darling: Wrapped

JM: What do you enjoy most – making or designing?

MD: I like nothing better than to play with different materials and to see what happens. I enjoy drawing and designing, but if I had to choose, I would say materials led processes.

JM: What is your favourite tool and why?

MD: My favourite tool is my rolling mill. I was very fortunate to receive the David Canter Memorial fund last year and I bought it with this. It’s a fantastic tool to impress unique patterns and textures on the metals I work with.

Half Layer, Morna Darling, silver and copper ring

JM: Who and / or what inspires you?

MD: I have always had an interest in textiles as well as jewellery so this is a big part of my inspiration in terms of my designs, however I’m constantly inspired by the many independent makers who create unique and different work and give me lots of determination to continue making and doing what I love.

JM: If you could collaborate with one artist, designer or maker, from any time, who would it be and why?

MD: One of the first jewellers I was aware of at school was American jeweller, Arline Fisch. She uses techniques such as knitting and crochet to create beautiful pieces made from colourful wire. She creates jewellery but also large installations, I’ve always been drawn to colour so to collaborate on an installation with her would be great fun.

Wrapped Necklace, Silver & plastic, 2015

Morna’s jewellery is on display and for sale in the Designer Jewellers Group pop-up shop in the Barbican Centre, London, every day now until 23rd December 2015.

Natalie Adams

New designer Natalie Adams, by Ute Sanne.

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When you see Natalie Adams work you are immediately transported into a vibrant, exotic and colourful world, miles away from grey British skies.

Born in England, Natalie grew up in Hong Kong and Shanghai. She returned to the United Kingdom for her degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing at Edinburgh College of Art. Her jewellery is evidentially a reflection of her years in Asia: Modern, cutting edge architecture fused with the traditional lattice work of the old Shanghai, dipped in bright reds, pinks and greens .

The result is a mix of very intriguing 3 dimensional shapes, executed with great precision and attention to detail.

Her chosen materials are acrylic plastic tubing, enamelled coated wire, sometimes gold and silver.

Natalie’s work involves a great deal of precision work by hand:

  • The acrylic tubing is cut and sanded down.
  • All the grooves that hold the delicate wire are hand sawn.
  • Once everything is prepared, the tubes are hand dyed, giving the plastic such fun colours and delicious transitions from one shade to another.
  • Then the wires are woven through the grooves.
  • The colourful chain links are made from coils of jewellery wire and twisted to make double helixes.

Natalie Adams jewellery Sunset Bangle_Adams

I particularly love Natalie’s Sunset Collection: True statement pieces in a riot of pink, orange and blue colours!

Natalie is currently Artist in Residence at Edinburgh College of Art and her jewellery can be viewed and purchased from the Designer Jewellers Group exhibition at the Barbican Centre until 23rd December.

Natalie Adams has accomplished a fantastic first collection and I am certain she has a great future ahead of her!