Jelka Quintelier, Black Lune

DJG member Shelby Fitzpatrick interviews new designer Jelka Quintelier, of ‘Black Lune‘.


SF: How did you get into jewellery design?

JQ: I was always creating and making when I was a child. Growing up with my mom being a kindergarten teacher I was always doing all sorts of crafts. When I was a teenager I absolutely loved cutting up my clothes and remaking them. Then I got into sewing classes and actually learned how to make my own clothes. All through college I thought I would either study architecture or fashion design. But after college I got introduced to the contemporary fine art world and this shook things up a little for me. I went on to study art jewellery design in Antwerp. What I didn’t realise at first is that my dad’s profession must have played a role as well. He is a dental technician and at an early age I was making pieces in wax that he would then cast for me in metal.

Jewellery encompasses everything I am passionate about: art and design, body and sculpture, the use of different materials and the link with fashion.

I still don’t see myself as a traditional jewellery designer. I like creating bigger sculptural pieces and interior installations as well as the occasional fashion garment for editorial shoots.

jelka quintelier 3

SF: What do you enjoy most about creating?

JQ: The anticipation! The start of a new piece. When I am still in the testing and experimenting stage and everything is still possible. I love that I can constantly evolve my work and that there will always be a next step in the process. There will always be a new idea, that’s what keeps it exciting.

SF: Tell us a little bit more about your design process.

JQ: I use two different work processes when I design the laser-cut rubber jewellery. The first one involves a lot of photography. When I come across interesting or striking images in the city I generally takes photo’s and then make them into my own patterns by printing them in black and white and cutting them up. The second method is about making a 2D cut out pattern have the impression of a 3D piece when worn on the body. This basically means a lot of experimenting and paper cuts before I get to a final design.

SF: What inspired you for your multi-functional work?

JQ: My graduation project at the Royal College of Art was inspired by the phenomenon of the urban nomad and the fact that more and more people tend to live in several places. We seem to move between places, cities and countries but we still like to carry our personal objects with us to contain a sense of self. In the past precious jewellery would have been the first thing you would take with you when moving just because it had a lot of value, both emotional and financial. I wanted to give jewellery an extra function so that you would be able to wear a sense of home. My designs intermediate between the territory of portable objects and adornment. By rethinking the notion of wearability I was able to create a necklace that carries an apple or a plant, but also is a necklace that turns into a bag. At the moment I am working on a chair necklace.

SF: What’s next for you?

JQ: I am showing at Top Drawer in January with a new section called Fashion First. This will be my first big trade fair. Hopefully I will be exhibiting at Milan Design Week in April with a bit more focus on my interior installations. I am creating test pieces at the moment.

SF: What are you expecting from showing at the Barbican with DJG?

JQ: It is a great opportunity to show my work to a new audience again. The Barbican Centre is a very vibrant venue that attracts a wide public. My work is quite niche and it is somewhat difficult to figure out who my customer is. It will be interesting to see who dares to wear my pieces!

SF: One third of our DJG members are originally from countries outside the U.K. This mix of backgrounds and cultures is unintentionally reflected in our selection of outstanding graduates. It is interesting to learn just what has attracted these graduates to study in the U.K.

JQ: My main reason to come to the U.K. was the Royal College of Art and because London is such a culturally buzzing and interesting place to live. I never intended to actually stay in London, but when I decided to start my own creative business, doing this in London was an obvious choice. I got the opportunity of being part of the Hothouse 4 program with the Crafts Council after graduating and this set things in motion. I feel that In England, and especially in London, there is a lot of support available for young creative entrepreneurs. The competition in London is great and there are so many amazing designers, but it’s just that aspect which makes me want to work hard and push forward.

 You can see and buy Jelka’s jewellery at the Designer Jewellers Group stand in the Barbican, London, now until 27th December.

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.

Collect 2014

DJG member Christine Kaltoft reviews her visit to Collect 2014, the International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects run by the Crafts Council at the Saatchi Gallery.

Visiting Collect was a priority for me this year: now that I live in the country it’s easy to feel out of touch with the cutting edge, and Collect surely represents that as far as contemporary craft goes.

I wasn’t disappointed. Right inside the door was the Bishopsland stand, and it was great to immediately see the work of two of our DJG New Designers: Nan Nan Liu and Kathryn Hinton. I was also wowed by the amazing gold jewellery by Jacqueline Mina, which was simply stunning.

The Dutch galleries always have great jewellery, and what caught my eye this time was the way that Iris Bodema had displayed a series of brooches. Each was mounted on a piece of white painted hardboard with – I guess you’d call it mark making rather than drawings – on it. Apparently purchasers get a pair of boards with each brooch: they really are works of art. I was persuaded to try on a brooch, which was actually very nice on: cotton and semi-precious stones. As one of the things I like best about Collect is the people watching I rather liked this picture showing the lively crowds!

In the next room ceramics by Pippin Drysdale sung out. I also loved the wooden jewellery by Flora Vagi. Several jewellers used wood but Flora’s was a bit different and beautifully crafted.

The Design Flanders stand had some great work, especially by An Alleweireldt, one of our members. Her stand was particularly busy, and customers were obviously drawn to a gold ring which the Crafts Council had featured on their website. I also loved the fluid gold necklaces by Jeanne Opgenhaffen and ceramic wall pieces by Ria Lins.

Kazumi Nagano
Kazumi Nagano

Another piece I found totally captivating was this bangle by Kazumi Nagano. It was woven from fine gold wires and nylon threads. Amazingly light, flexible and shimmering in the light: it really was quite wonderful.

A couple of laser cut pieces caught my eye: some steel jewellery that was just like insects wings and incredibly beautiful and delicate, and also a vessel of laser cut metal that had been gold-leafed and hand-raised. Unfortunately it was displayed on wood and so the photo cannot do it justice, and I realised later that the maker’s name doesn’t appear anywhere, hence the name of the gallery only.

Another DJG New Designer, Mariko Sumioka, and DJG guest exhibitor Jessica Turrell were also exhibiting their new work, which was great to see.

As I love lines, I was drawn to the very graphic work of Armel Barraud, who used traditional lace-making techniques to create wire pictures. Virginie Rochetti’s computer aided embroidery was fascinating in many ways. Her hand drawn sketches are either taken into the computer or drawn directly on the computer, and then the embroidery is stitched by machine. I didn’t know it was possible: not on this scale anyway. Quite incredible.

Anyway, coming back down to earth – because a lot of the work in Collect is quite rarified – I could see Sasha Wardell’s simple, elegant ceramic lampshades in my home: they’re on the wish list. I loved the mixture of old and new architecture in the gallery itself: the shapes, colours, and light. And finally, with my senses heightened, even the steps in the tube station looked beautiful!

Christine and An’s jewellery are on sale on the Designer Jewellers Group stand in the Barbican now until 1st June.

Heather McDermott

Heather McDermott is exhibiting with us in the Barbican this winter as part of our program of support to new designers. Here, DJG member An Alleweireldt of Oxx jewellery London interviews Heather.

 Heather Mc Dermott

A.A. We saw you at One Year On in New Designers, have you had a busy year since graduating from Edinburgh College. Did you do any exciting projects?

H.M.D. I actually graduated in 2011, so I had had just over a year out of college when I did One Year On. It has been a great year for learning and developing my work. Taking part in Hothouse with the Crafts Council at the start of the year was an intense but amazing experience and has really helped me focus my ideas and plans for the future. I took part in my first residency in October in the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, which has sparked big new ideas for next year. Preparing work for exhibitions for Lesley Craze, Dazzle and the Designer Jewellers Group has also been a great experience in what jewellery works best where.

A.A. Your new collection features some very interesting contradictions of regular shapes and very individual and unique colour elements. What’s your inspiration and why did you choose the materials you are using?

H.M.D. My inspiration is my island home the Isle of Skye. Growing up there I didn’t appreciate the rugged beauty that I was surrounded by so moving back last year has really helped spark new ways at looking at my environment. The ever-changing shoreline below our house has been a particular place of interest. Flotsam and jetsam are constantly washed ashore in different states of decay and this is where I pick out my unique colours and weathered finishes. I use stainless steel to add a contemporary feel to the pieces and the shapes mimic fishing nets, creels and buoys found washed ashore.

A.A. I see from your website that you also make a lot of beautiful drawings of Skye, do they feed as your jewellery inspiration as well?

H.M.D. Yes these do. I always found at college that research drawing played a huge part in my design process and I wanted to carry this through into my practice. Over the next few years I hope to develop these drawing further alongside the jewellery and hopefully on a larger scale.

Heather McDermott drawing

A.A. How is it to be a jewellery designer on Skye, is there a big artistic community?

H.M.D. Yes there is. My dad is a watercolourist so we share a studio space that is open to the public throughout the year. There is a studio trail booklet for Skye that features ceramicists, painters, weavers, jewellers etc. and where to go to see their work. I am hoping to do more local events next year and hopefully organise a group show or pop-up shop.

Heather McDermott

A.A. It sounds like you are incredibly busy with shows all over the country during this Christmas period. Have you got any exciting plans for next year?

H.M.D. I would really like to concentrate on my artwork next year and develop my colour ranges for my jewellery. There is lot happening in Scotland next year so I want to be as present there as possible. I would also like to do another residency so there are a lot of plans in pipe-line!

It is very exciting to see that two of our new designers this year – Heather Mc Dermott and Kelly Munro – both found elements of inspiration in the fishing villages they come from, yet created such amazingly different work! That is so incredibly inspiring, good luck to both of you!

DJG at Made London, The Design and Craft Fair- This coming week!


We are proud to say we are part of this fantastic show, held last year for the first time to great acclaim- a show who’s reputation grows, and promises to only get better. Made London showcases the very best and most original makers, exhibiting the highest quality in contemporary craft and design. It opens it’s doors again this coming week, from Thursday evening…

We will be showing together as a sub- group of twelve members in the beautiful venue that is the Sir John Soanes Church, downstairs in the very atmospheric Crypt.

Our group consists of: An Alleweireldt, Annie Ruthven-Taggart, Catherine Hills, Christina Hirst, Christine Kaltoft, Emma Farquaharson, Shelby Fitzpatrick, Harriet St Leger, Misun Won, Tom Mc Dowell, Ute Sanne, and Sarah Macrae.

Also showing independently of the group elsewhere in the building, are members, Jane Moore, Petra Bishai and Li-Chu Wu, and Associate member Henrietta Fernandez.

241 ticket offers are still available through the Made London website: