Kelly Munro: One Year On

At the New Designers show in 2013 we selected Kelly Munro as one of our six Designer Jewellers Group new designers. Now, as the anniversary of the show approaches, and Kelly updates us on her first year in business and her preparations for appearing in ‘One Year On’: a special section of the New Designers show.

Since graduating last year from Edinburgh College of Art the past year has been a bit of a whirlwind. New Designers last year really kick-started my career as a jeweller and I am thrilled to be accepted back to exhibit at ‘One Year On’.

I have been making ‘to do’ lists since I first found out I was accepted to exhibit and It is still going strong. In the run up to the show I have been creating new statement pieces as well as working on some brand new designs that don’t fit into the jewellery category at all.  I have something very new to bring to the table this year after having ideas before Christmas. I designed five pots and commissioned a local wood turner near my hometown up north to create these. Since then I have painted, burned, branded and pierced large net-like lids. I am very excited to reveal these at One Year On and hope they are well received.

I would say my work has evolved a lot in the past year – especially since I have introduced my new silver collection – but the same principle of burned wood combined with colour and saw piercing still stands. I still thrive to create bold statement jewellery that is also very easily worn. My silver collection is now available to purchase through my website and has gotten off to a great start so far.

It is about 2 weeks until the show and I have just started thinking about my display and what I still need for my stand. So far I have decided that less is more. I am planning to pin all my statement pieces along the back wall with a while background to keep it all simple. I have started building plinths to show off my smaller works, and at the same time trying to remember I have to fit everything into a metre.

Next week I have a photo shoot planned with the lovely Kevin Sinclair and my beautiful friend that I always rope into being my model – Hannah Minnock. I was really pleased with how my photos turned out last year and were used in so many magazines and online blogs, one was even printed A1 and displayed at SOFA Chicago which was fantastic. I am crossing my fingers that the weather says dry and our shots are as successful this year.

Kelly Munro

All in all I am so excited to exhibit again but very nervous, I just hope I can keep up with all the other fantastic makers at One Year On. The group this year are exceptional, and I am looking forward to meeting all the exhibitors I haven’t yet met.

We wish Kelly a fantastic show, and can’t wait to see her new work!
New Designers is on at the Business Design Centre in Islington from 25th June 2014.

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West Dean: new growth using wood in jewellery

Heather McDermott was a DJG New Designer in our Barbican Winter 2013 show. Here she updates us on her continuing professional development and reviews a training course at West Dean College.

In February I received a Creative Scotland Artist’s bursary to develop my artwork, jewellery and creative workshops based on forestries across the Highlands. I am particularly interested in how to use wood within creative environments and I was drawn to the ‘Wood and Trees week’ at West Dean College. I had been introduced to the college when I was studying in Edinburgh College of Art but never got the chance to go. The week featured courses such as woodcutting, bowl turning and painting. I chose a course run by renowned jeweller Beth Legg where we could explore how to use wood creatively within jewellery.

I arrived at West Dean late so didn’t realise how beautiful the surrounding countryside is. Within the grounds there is an Arboretum and since I had time on the Sunday I explored the forest admiring the well kept grounds and the new born lambs!

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I met the group and Beth that evening where we got introduced to the workshop, the itinerary for the week and health and safety considerations.

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Beth also showed images that explored different areas which we could look at during the week – mark making, contrast, tone etc. The approach to the course was to be driven by creativity rather than technique.

Monday: We headed up to the Arboretum to explore the woodland, draw and gather fallen wood to use throughout the week.

Returning to the studio we started to test different tools and techniques available for us to use. I started by testing the Pyrograph which burnt into the wood beautifully and gave a lovely hand-drawn quality.

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I used a series of doweling rods to experiment with burning and carving, rubbing back and staining. One of the points Beth made clear was process and it was wonderful to have time to go through different processes and see the effects.

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We had the opportunity to hear Tutor talks in the evening. These were fascinating and highlighted the diversity of how artists use wood. I was particularly drawn to the wood cutting tutors, Merlyn Chesterman and Rod Kelly whose work was amazing! We also had the opportunity to do a ‘swap over’ where we would spend 1 hour and a half in another subject. I had made my mind up that evening!

Tuesday: I spent the day carving a piece of wood I had found with a beautiful natural curve – perfect for a large statement necklace. The wood was pine and carved like butter. One of the main aims that I wanted to get out of the course was to explore mark making and working on a more solid structure as I usually use wire within my work.

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A shape I had been drawn to was a fallen conifer branch which had the most amazing fern like leaves. This was another shape I wanted to explore so I cut the shape slightly exaggerated onto a flat sheet of Hornbeam, plywood and a Lime. The Hornbeam was a beautifully bleached wood but was difficult to cut.

I tried more staining, burning and waxing into scraps of carved wood to develop what sort of finish I wanted on the larger piece. I had a wonderful bright orange with me so I wanted to incorporate that into the piece mimicking some of the colours found in the ferns.

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Wednesday: The first part of the morning was spent in our ‘swap over’. I had chosen to do the woodcutting course which meant we had just over an hour to carve and the rest to ink up and get our first prints printed. We were encouraged to make as many marks as possible and create as much contrast as we could which was a great comparison to what I was doing in jewellery. I drew inspiration from a group of trees from the hillside at West Dean and began to carve.

Here is the print I made:

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In the afternoon I continued carving my necklace, stopping to lay out the other components to go alongside it. I really enjoyed being able to apply colour and then rub back and then reapply another colour to create layers on the wood which could then be exposed. Burning was another lovely technique to use with colour.

Beth showed us how to inlay into metal which was a technique I had never done before so was really interesting to watch. We also had the chance to make a wooden ring – I ran out of time but this is something I will pursue at home.

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Beth Legg

Thursday & Friday: Now I had finished my main components I had to decide how I wanted to connect them and finish them off. The two days were spent using more technical skills and learning from Beth the best way of completing the pieces.

I also really wanted to use one of the pieces I had already carved and burnt so alongside the larger piece I created a hollow form out of silver, textured it to look like Silver Birch bark and set the wood and silver together.

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I also got to use a blow torch where I had to physically blow to get a hotter flame. This was a new experience for me and maybe one I wouldn’t use again, there were lots of loud breaths being taken between soldering!

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It was a fabulous week where I returned home feeling inspired. Beth was an excellent teacher and enabled us to create freely but with really helpful guidance and direction throughout the week. Regarding my own jewellery, I have taken away techniques that I will definitely use in the future, artwork inspiration and ideas of how I could translate the structure of the week into possible bite-size workshops.

Heather is currently exhibiting in Edinburgh and Bilston, and will be at Cluster in Craft Central, Clerkenwell, London from 3rd – 7th  June. Further details of her stockists and shows can be found on her website.

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.

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!

Kirsten Manzi

Kirsten Manzi is one of the six New Designers selected to exhibit with us at the Barbican this winter. Here she is interviewed by DJG member Petra Bishai.

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P.B. Your work has clear narrative what stories inspire your designs?

K.M. Mainly stories I’ve collected while travelling. After spending time working and studying in America I built up a scrapbook of photographs, tickets, postcards and letters. Small reminders of time spent, usually left forgotten on a shelf and rarely looked at.  My designs expresses a personal narrative of these stories. of my own travels and memories.

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P.B. How do feel about working to commission and producing work that tells another person’s story?

K.M. I am more than happy to offer customers a commission service where they can work with me to turn their own memories and experiences into a unique piece of jewellery inspired by the people, places and moments they treasure.

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P.B. What mementoes are you currently working with?

K.M. I’m actually not long home from an inter-rail trip around Europe. So I’m working with a collection of photographs, tickets, sketches and memories from this trip.  I’m also in talks with a photographer friend (Declan Franklin) about a potential collaboration focusing on the architecture in my home city Dundee.

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P.B. You draw upon architecture in your work, what buildings particularly inspire you?

K.M. With architecture it’s not so much any particular building, I enjoy the patterns, shapes and structures. I love the geometry of architecture.

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P.B. Where and what is the Criterion?

K.M. The Commodore Criterion Building is an empty building in New York which used to hold the offices of various toy firms and is famous for having a permanent Christmas display in the windows. It’s located in New York City where Broadway and Fifth Avenue split.

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You can see and buy Kirsten’s work from the Designer Jewellers Group stand in the Barbican, London, until 1st January 2014.

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