HF: How did you get into jewellery and where did you train?
BS: Since a young age I have always loved creating things with my hands. At school my art teacher, Andrea Douglas, was a great influence and encouraged me to pursue my love of jewellery making. I graduated in 2014 from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Jewellery and Metal Design developing my interest in smart materials and since then I have never looked back.
HF: How did you start using smart materials in your work?
BS: During my 3rd year at university, I was introduced to smart materials by Dr Sara Robertson- a lecturer in craft innovation and smart materials. She has shared her invaluable knowledge and skills with me, which I have gone on to apply creatively within my work.
HF: Can you explain a bit about the smart materials that you use in your jewellery?
BS: At the moment I am using two different types of smart materials in my jewellery. Thermochromism is a property that changes colour with the stimulus of heat, and Photochromism changes colour with UV light. I have developed this technology in my jewellery to make pieces that are sensitive to body heat and react with daylight when worn outside. This makes each piece individual to the wearer depending on their surroundings.
HF: Describe in more detail the technology and skills you use to make your pieces
BS: To create the shapes in my new collection ‘Playground’, I have manipulated my drawings and photos in to digital form. Through using the resources at the art school I then transfer my designs to the laser cutter to engrave my drawings into anodised aluminium.
HF: Tell us more about the ‘Playground’ collection that you launched this year
BS: ‘Playground’ is inspired by my childhood memories and the nostalgia of being care-free. Through the shapes, colours and movements of the playground I have made this new collection using the smart materials and techniques that I have developed since graduating. Throughout all of my collections I aim to remain innovative, creating jewellery that is interactive and individual through the use of techniques, materials and designs.
HF: So, where is your workshop based?
BS: I am in my second year as Designer in Residence at DJCAD in Dundee and this is where my bench and studio are currently based. I support students in workshops and also with their own individual projects. The residency programme helps graduates starting out in their careers by providing support through the use of the university’s facilities, spaces and mentorship to help them develop their skills and confidence in their creative practice. I applied after I graduated in 2014 and saw it as a great opportunity to help me set up my own practice as a contemporary jewellery designer and maker.
HF: What’s your typical day like?
BS: Right now, I’m pleased to be busy making Christmas orders! So my typical day starts at 8.30am at the workshop in the university, having a cup of coffee to set me up for the day. I always check my e-mails and I look at my ‘to do’ list! At my bench I will be cleaning up castings, working with my resin pieces and making elements for each piece of jewellery. Also I am involved in helping the students through workshops. I am usually home by six thirty when I catch up on any admin work and create more lists!
HF: Where do you sell your work?
BS: I am exhibiting in three other galleries this Christmas; the Dazzle Winter Show and Studio Fusion Gallery – both at the Oxo Tower Wharf in London. Additionally, I am selling my new collection at The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle until March 2016, this is in collaboration with Craft Scotland. I have stock from my previous collection in Gill Wing Jewellery shop in Islington, London.
I have also recently launched my online shop on my website, www.bethspowart.co.uk where I am selling some of my new earrings and I will be adding more items in the next few months.
SF: Can you tell us a little about your background?
KB: I studied my foundation course at Stevenson College in Edinburgh, where my tutor Russell Wallace, inspired me to generate ideas in many different ways. I never forget all his advice. I am very pleased to have graduated from Edinburgh College of Art this year with a first class honours degree. It was there that my interest in enamelling really took form, as I learnt from Elizabeth and Jessica Turrell. I learnt so much from my teachers including Stephen Bottomley and Susan Cross, and am really glad of all the opportunities I have had to grow and develop through my time at ECA.
SF: Where do you find your inspiration?
KB: Of my current two collections, ‘Currents of Venice’, is a result of a research trip to the beautiful Italian city last year. There, my imagination was captured by the patchwork of texture and colours, of old and new, as the residents work to restore the faded glory and faded colours, resulting in layers upon layers of architecture and details. I feel this translated well into a set of pieces with both deep, vibrant colours and strong tactile values, which invite touch and intimate exploration.
My other collection, ‘Lines in Motion’ grew out of my interest in the relationship between surface and form, and as a personal challenge I set myself. Much of my work is rooted in drawing at the sketchbook level and printmaking and is by nature very two-dimensional. My challenge for this project was to develop new ways of achieving three-dimensional forms. I took my inspiration from the weaving movements of basketry and the pleat work of Japanese clothing designer Issey Miyake. Although these two sources are quite different, I found they both involved a certain kind of rhythm in their creation and introduced a sense of movement into my work as well as bringing that much need third dimension.
SF: In what techniques do you feel confident and which would you like to develop further?
KB: I love the versatility of enamel, with the world of possibilities it allows for, in terms of texture and pattern. I especially enjoy creating matt finishes. And the colour! I have always enjoyed a strong use of colour in my work and enamel allows for especially vivid and deep shades and hues. In the Summer I was privileged to be a part of the International Enamelling Symposium in Erfurt, Germany. It was just amazing to work alongside great enamel artists from around the world and to learn from them, and to explore new possibilities. I feel that I have yet to exhaust the creative potential in the use of enamel and look forward to more opportunities to experiment with this medium, such as working more with industrial, liquid enamels, as until Erfurt I mainly worked with vitreous enamel.
I would like to develop my use of other mediums including wood and resin. I had a wonderful opportunity to study “Exploring Jewellery with Wood” for a week at West Dean College with Beth Legg. I really enjoyed using found wood and experimenting with pyrography, and would love to develop this further.
SF: Would you like to collaborate with others, either to a theme, or on a specific project? If so, can you imagine the advantages in this?
KB: I would love to collaborate with other artists on a project. Although I have not got anyone in mind as a specific collaborator, I can see definite advantages of working alongside others, such as being stretched in new directions and being open to lots of new techniques. Some of my favourite projects at college were when we worked with other students, especially from different disciplines. It really opened you up to new possibilities.
More of our selection from our touring Manifest show at The Craft Centre and Design Gallery… Here we have Catherine Hill’s beautiful ring and Kerry Richardson’s clever bracelet/necklace.
Matching double finger ring and bangle commissions getting ready for gilding.
Beautiful ring and bangle by Petra Bishai. See her work in our Winter Show, now on at The Barbican Centre, London