Manifest – Meet the Designer – Michael Carpenter

Manifest is a touring exhibition of jewellery by the Designer Jewellers Group to celebrate its fortieth anniversary. The Manifest exhibition showcases the work of 20 jewellers from around the world in a unique display, which is open to the public at Barbican Art Centre, London.

Designer Jewellers Group

29 May 2016 – 30 June 2016

Foyer, Level G, Barbican Art Centre

Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS, United Kingdom

Ticket: Admission free

Times: Daily 12 noon – 8pm 

Here is Michael ‘s work:

Michael Carperter

Manifest Lookbook



Sheila Roussel

Sheila Roussel is one of the very talented graduates that has joined the Designer Jewellers Group at this years Barbican Exhibition. Sheila talks to DJG member Michael Carpenter about her jewellery and inspiration.

MC: Hello Sheila, how did you start making jewellery?

SR: Well I have been interested in making jewellery for several years, selling wire and beaded jewellery at crafts fayres. But I wanted to learn how to take my hobby further and knew I needed a portfolio to apply to art school. I first studied textile art and then went on to study at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design and graduated this year with a 1st BDes (Hons) in Jewellery and Metalwork.

MC: How would you describe your work?

SR: My jewellery is inspired by keepsakes and interesting treasures, such as heirloom jewellery, photos, fragments of fabrics and lace and the sentiments attached to them. I have designed contemporary jewellery pieces conveying an individual story using sterling silver, silk, pearls and acrylic.

MC: You use a variety of techniques and materials in your jewellery.

SR: Yes, I create a series of personal keepsake brooches that use both photo etching and embossing to create an imprint of a wedding ring onto etched silver.

Sheila Roussel: brooch in hands cropped

The photo neckpieces have been created by taking perspex as the base and using cultured pearls to secure the silk photo images.

Sheila Roussel silk necklace

Another photo neckpiece has been designed using a silver “embroidery hoop” technique to secure the fabric image. Small perspex photo keepsakes have been laser etched and designed to incorporate a wedding ring.

I also laser etch lace patterns onto perspex with the addition of semi precious beads, and that has led me to develop wearable neckpieces and earrings.

MC: So what’s next for you Sheila?

SR: I was awarded the F & A Bradshaw bursary which enabled me to travel to Penland Craft School in North Carolina, and at the moment I am one of the Designers in Residence at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.

I also work as a tutor to 2nd year jewellery and metalsmiths students, run an evening class for Adult Continuing Education and teach adults with learning disabilities.

I intend to continue to develop and explore new jewellery ranges.

MC: I can see you are very busy, thankyou Sheila.

You can see and buy Sheila’s work from the Designer Jewellers Group stand in the Barbican, London, until 27th December.

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.


Ciara Bowles

Recent graduate Ciara Bowles who is exhibiting with the Designer Jewellers Group at the Barbican this Christmas, spoke to DJG member Michael Carpenter.

Ciara Bowles at New Designers 2013

MC: Where did you study and what got you interested in making jewellery?

CB: I have been interested in jewellery since I was young and I made jewellery out of wire, bottle caps and drinks cans for my friends and sold it at school. At college I became more and more interested in adorning the body, so a degree in jewellery seemed like a natural progression.

I studied at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating with a 1st in BA Jewellery & Silversmithing in 2012. Since then I have been developing my jewellery from my experimental degree collection, into more wearable everyday pieces.

MC: What are your inspirations?

CB: My work is inspired by plants, flowers and microscopic images of cells: I have always been fascinated by the colours, textures and delicate structures.  Colour, pattern, material and scale are what excites me, colour being the most important medium of all. I try to create jewellery that tantalises all of the senses though my use of bold colours and different materials, so much so that it draws you in to take a closer look.

Ciara Bowles PC021691

MC: How do you make your wonderful pieces?

CB: I use aluminium because of its light weight and malleability, the method of powder-coating gives me a strong smooth block colour to work off and the suede chenille (bound around the edges) for a different texture. All of my work is hand-pierced, which people say is crazy, but I like to have control over the patterns and it means that each piece is completely unique.

MC: What have you been doing since you graduated in 2012?

CB: Since exhibiting at New Designers: One Year On this year I have taken part in eight contemporary jewellery exhibitions around the country, one in Norway, including the Designer Jewellers Group. Next February I will be taking part in the new graduate exhibition at Studio Fusion Gallery, London and FASHIONED at Craft Central, London. I am also working towards designing a more commercial range of jewellery which I will launch at Pulse Design Fair, London in 2014.

MC: Thanks Ciara, I think you have a bright future in jewellery design.