Karolina Baines

DJG member Shelby Fitzpatrick interviews new designer Karolina Baines about her jewellery.

K Baines in studio

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.

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‘Faded glories’ of Venice
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.

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Sketchbook work and test pieces based on Karolina’s research trip to Venice
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.

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Sketchbook work and test pieces for Karolina’s ‘Lines in Motion’ collection
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.

K Baines Necklace 'Currents of Venice (5)' Shannon Tofts
Neckpiece from Karolina’s ‘Currents of Venice’ collection  (photography by Shannon Tofts)
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.

K Baines Earrings Lines in motion (1)' Shannon Tofts
Earrings from Karolina’s ‘Lines in Motion’ collection, 2015
Karolina’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.

Esme Parsons

DJG member Jane Moore interviews new designer Esme Parsons about her work.

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Jane Moore and Esme Parsons at the Barbican Centre

JM: Esme, what has been your inspiration with this collection?

EP: I am inspired by urban city landscapes, modernist and brutalist buildings, graffiti, road markings etc. I like to take inspiration from the urban landscape that otherwise people would ignore. I can often be inspired by barbed wire or scaffolding.

JM: How do you approach the making process?

EP: I take many photos, sketch quick line drawings and make paper and card models until I am happy with the construction. I then start building the forms in silver.

JM: What other materials do you use?

EP: I prefer to work in silver because it enables me to enamel the pieces in bright opaque colours. Sifting gives me a spray effect which replicates the effects of graffiti.

JM: Have you always worked with enamel?

EP: During my first year at UCA (University for the Creative Arts) Rochester on my silversmithing and goldsmithing  course we had the good fortune to be taught enamelling by Louise O’Neill. I found her to be extremely inspiring.

I experimented and played with traditional enamelling techniques until again we had the very inspiring enameller Jessica Turrell to teach us on a short course.

JM: Do you spend much time testing enamel colours?

EP: I have my favourites but am always open to trying out new colours and I experiment with different size meshes until I am happy with the effects and results.

JM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

EP: I would very much like to exhibit abroad such as SOFA in the USA. Presently I am an artist in residence at Edinburgh University. I have access to all the facilities at the University and also space to work alongside teaching and helping the first and second year B.A. Students.

Having worked with these students I have realised that I would like to teach on a more permanent basis. I would also consider doing a Masters degree in the future but first I would like to consolidate my current work to see where it takes me.

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Esme’s work is on display and for sale in the Designer Jewellers Group pop-up shop in the Barbican Centre, London, now until 27th December 2014.

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.

Elizabeth Jane Campbell

Here, DJG member and renowned enameller Jane Moore interviews Elizabeth Jane Campbell, who has already won awards for her innovative approach to enamelling and who exhibited with us in the Barbican this winter.

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JM: We came across you and your work at New Designers. Did you enjoy your training?

EJC: I trained at Edinburgh College of Art, and feel very privileged to have gained my BA Hons in Jewellery and Silversmithing from such an iconic institute, and I am very proud to have studied in my hometown of Edinburgh.

While at Edinburgh College of Art I was able to take advantage of some wonderful opportunities, including studying at West Dean College and going on exchange to Nova Scotia, Canada, where I spent a semester studying jewellery and enamelling. My four years studying were always challenging, but always enjoyable, and I loved every minute of being a student at Edinburgh College of Art.

JM: Your enamelling is very interesting. When and how did you choose to enamel onto a ceramic block?

EJC: I discovered enamelling while on my 3rd year exchange to Nova Scotia and the possibilities of the technique fascinated me. When I returned to Edinburgh College of Art I went into my 4th and final year when we developed our personal interests in jewellery and developed our degree show collection – it was during this year I began considering other options for enamel rather than metal. I was keen to create larger and more sculptural pieces of enamelling, and so I began my experiments with ceramic block as the materials could allow me to create large-scale enamel jewellery that remained relatively light and thus wearable.

JM: Is this an easy material to work with and will you continue to use it?

EJC: The ceramic block can be a temperamental material to work with, as it is brittle and can be prone to cracking during the carving process. All of the ceramic elements in my work are hand carved as I feel the traditional technique of hand carving adds a unique quality to the pieces – however the carving of ceramics create a high volume of fine dust and so health and safety precautions have to be followed when working with it (i.e. good quality respirator mask, workshop ventilation etc.)

Furthermore, as the enamel is not designed for use with ceramic, applying enamelling to the carved pieces requires a lot of practice, experimentation and patience. 
However despite the challenges of the material, I find it very rewarding and enjoyable to work with, and I will continue to work with it while I develop new techniques and designs for enamelling using different unconventional materials.

JM: Do you prefer to enamel onto metal or ceramic and will you experiment in enamelling onto other surfaces?

EJC: I am verypassionate about enamelling and I enjoy the challenges of experimenting with different enamels, materials and methods of application. I have various plans for future experiments with different materials, as well continuing with the use of enamelled ceramic block. However, enamelling onto metal is particularity special to me – I adore the traditional enamel techniques such as cloisonné, champlevé and plique a jour, and I believe a full and experienced understanding of enamel is crucial to allow designers the freedom and knowledge to experiment. Because of this I am constantly striving to learn more about enamelling onto metal so I can understand the traits and constraints of the technique before considering how I can exploit the materials in a new and interesting way.

 

JM: Are you material led in your work or is your source of inspiration quite specific?

EJC: I find my work is inspired by both an interest in material exploration and the possibilities of enamelling techniques, as well as by my source inspiration. I am inspired by the academic theories of visual literacy – a topic which may sound rather dry, but in which I find huge inspiration for the use of colour, pattern and shape to create designs that hint at a ‘visual stress’ which attracts the viewer. I was first introduced to the concepts of visual literacy and visual stress by a tutor I had while studying in Canada, and alongside my interest in enamelling I began to develop a very personal design style.

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JM: Did you have many exhibition opportunities offered to you at New Designers?

EJC: I have been overwhelmed by the amazing response to my work and I have been extremely fortunate by receiving some incredible opportunities and exhibitions from New Designers – including being awarded the Mark Fenn Award from the Association for Contemporary Jewellery (ACJ), and more recently winning the Guild of Enamellers 2014 Bursary. A highlight from New Designers was the chance to exhibit with the Designer Jewellers Group at the Barbican this winter, which allowed me the chance not only to show my work alongside some wonderful established jewellers, but also to meet and work with jewellers at the DJG exhibition. 
From New Designers I have also had the opportunity to exhibit across the country in renowned galleries such as the ‘Kath Libbert Gallery’ in Saltaire and ‘Dazzle’ at the Oxo Towers in London.
 I am thrilled to say that I am still receiving exhibition opportunities from showing at New Designers and I am now back in the studio at Glasgow School of Art, where I am Artist in Resident, working towards my upcoming exhibitions in both the UK and abroad.

Scarlett Cohen French

Scarlett Cohen French, currently Artist in Residence at the Glasgow School of Art, is interviewed by Ute Sanne, member of the Designer Jewellers Group.

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Scarlett, you  only graduated this year from the Glasgow School of Art, but have already received two awards since then.

Yes its pretty great! I’ve won the Guild of Enamelers new graduate bursary and have come joint first place for the British Society of Enamelers graduate bursary also. The enamelling world has been very welcoming and supportive. Looking forward to buying myself a kiln!

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Your enamel jewellery emanates a lot of vibrant energy and movement, but you are not using traditional enamel. How do you achieve those lovely silky orange, blue and yellow tones?

I’ve mainly used industrial (or wet process) enamel. I’ve found the colours to be suitably bright and vibrant and it allowed me to experiment with enamelling on to steel. My technique is to layer different shades of colour and then rub back, revealing a photo-etched design, multiple shades of colour and achieving a silky smooth matte finish.

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You are also experimenting with photography and film. How does the visual aspect influence your work?

All of my work is based on research into experimental film. I make visual feedback loops, which is the iteration that occurs when a camera is pointed at it’s own monitor. It’s a form of Chaos which, in the digital age, reveals itself on screen as undulating and complex pattern and form. I project these films on to the body and design my jewellery from there, always considering movement pattern and of course colour.

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Scarlett’s work can be viewed and bought at the Designer Jewellers Group exhibition at the Barbican Centre until 1st January 2013.