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.

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Mireia Rossell

DJG member Ute Sanne interviews new designer Mireia Rossell about her work.

Mireia Rossell at OYO (8 of 26)

US: Mireia your approach to jewellery making is very distinctive and, in my experience, unique. How did you arrive at this?

MR: My intention is to promote play. I play with my prototypes for hours and get inspiration for developments or entirely new concepts from my interaction with them. I love to think that the user would similarly be able to gain inspiration from my pieces and enjoy interacting with them as much as I do. It is through manipulation that the pieces come alive.

The flexibility of the materials, after I have processed them, inspired me to make the pieces that they create flexible in design. This means the bracelet can become a necklace or a pendant, the ring can be worn in different forms, as a pendant and by a wide range of ring sizes.

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My transition from a commercial designer working for several large jewellery companies to producing work to my own brief, with freedom, is recent. I feel that this sense of liberation comes across in my work. I found a lot of the commercial projects I worked on bland: I always thought jewellery should be more interactive and playful.

US: Which came first, the abstract idea or was it through playing and experimenting with certain materials?

MR: It was definitely though play. After designing FLAT PACK-jewellery (plastic pieces which come flat and are given volume through the wearers choices in twists and folds) I began thinking about using more traditional jewellery materials. Speaking to people about the work I came to better understand the innate value attributed to precious metals and how that could be successful in a collection. The challenge was getting these metals to behave as I wanted! It took a great deal of work to perfect the technique I have now developed.

US: What are the practical considerations you have encountered in the manufacture of the Lissom collection?

MR: I make all the pieces by hand, myself. It is a time-consuming process but I am gradually getting faster! The greatest challenge was to get silver and gold to be highly flexible, and strong, especially after soldering them.

US: Which is your favourite material to work with?

MR: I have been surprised by how much I have enjoyed my return to working with silver and gold. I would not say I have a specific preference for one material as they have such different design potential, the exploration of which is key to my work. I often start with the material and work to find out what it’s qualities are, and what they offer me in terms of design.

Thank you Mireia, the exceptional quality of your work has been reflected in the enthusiastic reaction to it by our Barbican visitors!

Mireia’s work (which we first saw at the New Designers show, as shown in this film) can now be seen and bought from the Designer Jewellers Group pop-up shop in the Barbican Centre.

Mirka Janeckova

DJG member Petra Bishai interviews new designer Mirka Janeckova, who is exhibiting with us now at the Barbican Centre.

PB: Your work has an organic, freeform and sea-like quality. Where does your inspiration come from?

MJ: I wanted to create a unique style of work and I spent a lot of time considering how to achieve this. I decided rather than looking at objects that already existed to look at internal sources of inspiration.

I was drawn to Surrealism and their methodology. In particular they used techniques such as automatic drawing and collage to inspire their work. Through my research I created my own version of automatic drawing. 

PB: What is automatic drawing and how do yourself prepare for it?

MJ: I cut myself off from outside influences and draw what comes into my head. It’s like a stream of consciousness and actually quite a natural state for me.

Sometimes I have some random sketches or a photograph that I use as my starting point. I see shapes in my mind and translate them into drawings. For my materials I use dark papers with white watercolours and pencils. I know that my thoughts are not completely cut off from outside ideas but what I’m trying to do is to avoid any direct influences.

PB: When does your conscious mind come into your creative process?

MJ: When I move into my design process and look at technical issues. For instance the decision to use porcelain and silver was a deliberate one.

PB: How have your drawings changed since you started automatic drawing in 2013?

MJ: They have always been organic. People, just as you have done, often comment on the drawings being marine-like but for me the drawings are not related to this although all life comes from the sea.

Mirka Janeckova automatic drawing
Automatic drawing

PB: Coming from a land locked country, The Czech Republic, do you think you have an internal longing for the sea?

MJ: Yes for me there was always a magical notion of the sea and it was a symbol of freedom. I didn’t experience the sea until I was twenty. Maybe that’s why I have chosen to live on an island for the past eight years!

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Mirka Janeckova collection in porcelain and silver

In order to explain her process Mirka brought along the tools of her trade and invited Catherine Hendy and me to try out automatic drawing. Both of us felt quite nervous about the experience and wondered what our drawings may reveal. We both chose to use sheets upon which Mirka had already placed some random marks. It took a while to get into the process but we did enjoy trying it out and in the end I didn’t want to stop, it was almost addictive. Here are the results of our first trial.

I love Mirka’s forms and her use of materials. In the future she plans to work with opaqueness and use light with the porcelain, which I am really looking forward to seeing. 

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Mirka Janeckova brooches. Photo: Pavel Dousek
Portfolio Mirka Janeckova
Mirka Janeckova rings. Photo: Pavel Dousek

Jelka Quintelier, Black Lune

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

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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.

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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.

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.