Morna Darling

Designer Jewellers Group member Jo McAllister interviews new designer Morna Darling.

Morna Darling Portrait

JM: What made you decide to become a jeweller and where did you train?

MD: I have always loved drawing and making things and with jewellery there is so many possibilities of materials, scale and concepts, this definitely attracted me to studying it. Being taken to Dazzle by my parents during the Edinburgh Festival was also a definite attraction as there was so much exciting work. I trained at Glasgow School of Art which I really enjoyed, especially my fourth year when I had free reign to really develop and explore my jewellery skills.

JM: Describe where you do most of your creative work.

MD: I do most of my creative work in my studio which I share with two other makers. I love working with materials and making samples and test pieces before I finalise my designs and sitting at my bench is where this happens. I also occasionally takeover my kitchen table with my sketchbooks, I love to draw and collage and it’s a great calm place to do it.

JM: What are you currently working on?

MD: I’m currently working on a few commissions for Christmas and continuing to develop my current collections.

JM: What are the key themes in your work?

MD: I like to make pieces with texture, pattern and colour. My work is inspired by fabrics and clothing. I am interested in representing the qualities of cloth such as layering, threading, folding and the patterns found within it. Pattern making is hugely important in my process and I am fascinated with the structural repeated elements of fabric and how to emulate these in my jewellery. Using different materials from my source allows playful exploration of how to create aspects of textiles whilst not actually including them in my work.

JM: What would you like people to notice about your work?

MD: I think I would like people to notice the different ways I combine precious and non precious materials and how they can work so well together.

Morna Darling

JM: What attracts you to the material(s) you work in?

MD: I work with silver, plastic and copper. I’m attracted to the plastic because of the soft, organic forms I can create with what is actually a hard material. It also means I have the opportunity to add colour to my pieces. I also patinate copper to turn it blue, joining this with silver is one of my favourite combinations.

Morna Darling: Wrapped

JM: What do you enjoy most – making or designing?

MD: I like nothing better than to play with different materials and to see what happens. I enjoy drawing and designing, but if I had to choose, I would say materials led processes.

JM: What is your favourite tool and why?

MD: My favourite tool is my rolling mill. I was very fortunate to receive the David Canter Memorial fund last year and I bought it with this. It’s a fantastic tool to impress unique patterns and textures on the metals I work with.

Half Layer, Morna Darling, silver and copper ring

JM: Who and / or what inspires you?

MD: I have always had an interest in textiles as well as jewellery so this is a big part of my inspiration in terms of my designs, however I’m constantly inspired by the many independent makers who create unique and different work and give me lots of determination to continue making and doing what I love.

JM: If you could collaborate with one artist, designer or maker, from any time, who would it be and why?

MD: One of the first jewellers I was aware of at school was American jeweller, Arline Fisch. She uses techniques such as knitting and crochet to create beautiful pieces made from colourful wire. She creates jewellery but also large installations, I’ve always been drawn to colour so to collaborate on an installation with her would be great fun.

Wrapped Necklace, Silver & plastic, 2015

Morna’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.

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Beth Spowart

DJG member Henrietta Fernandez interviews new designer Beth Spowart about her jewellery.

Beth working

HF: How did you get into jewellery and where did you train?

BS: Since a young age I have always loved creating things with my hands.  At school my art teacher, Andrea Douglas, was a great influence and encouraged me to pursue my love of jewellery making. I graduated in 2014 from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Jewellery and Metal Design developing my interest in smart materials and since then I have never looked back.

Beth Set up

HF: How did you start using smart materials in your work?

BS: During my 3rd year at university, I was introduced to smart materials by Dr Sara Robertson- a lecturer in craft innovation and smart materials. She has shared her invaluable knowledge and skills with me, which I have gone on to apply creatively within my work.

HF: Can you explain a bit about the smart materials that you use in your jewellery?

BS: At the moment I am using two different types of smart materials in my jewellery. Thermochromism is a property that changes colour with the stimulus of heat, and Photochromism changes colour with UV light. I have developed this technology in my jewellery to make pieces that are sensitive to body heat and react with daylight when worn outside. This makes each piece individual to the wearer depending on their surroundings.

HF: Describe in more detail the technology and skills you use to make your pieces

BS: To create the shapes in my new collection ‘Playground’, I have manipulated my drawings and photos in to digital form. Through using the resources at the art school I then transfer my designs to the laser cutter to engrave my drawings into anodised aluminium.

HF: Tell us more about the ‘Playground’ collection that you launched this year

BS: ‘Playground’ is inspired by my childhood memories and the nostalgia of being care-free. Through the shapes, colours and movements of the playground I have made this new collection using the smart materials and techniques that I have developed since graduating. Throughout all of my collections I aim to remain innovative, creating jewellery that is interactive and individual through the use of techniques, materials and designs.

Workbench

HF: So, where is your workshop based?

BS: I am in my second year as Designer in Residence at DJCAD in Dundee and this is where my bench and studio are currently based. I support students in workshops and also with their own individual projects. The residency programme helps graduates starting out in their careers by providing support through the use of the university’s facilities, spaces and mentorship to help them develop their skills and confidence in their creative practice.  I applied after I graduated in 2014 and saw it as a great opportunity to help me set up my own practice as a contemporary jewellery designer and maker.

HF: What’s your typical day like?

BS: Right now, I’m pleased to be busy making Christmas orders! So my typical day starts at 8.30am at the workshop in the university, having a cup of coffee to set me up for the day. I always check my e-mails and I look at my ‘to do’ list! At my bench I will be cleaning up castings, working with my resin pieces and making elements for each piece of jewellery. Also I am involved in helping the students through workshops. I am usually home by six thirty when I catch up on any admin work and create more lists!

HF: Where do you sell your work?

BS: I am exhibiting in three other galleries this Christmas; the Dazzle Winter Show and Studio Fusion Gallery – both at the Oxo Tower Wharf in London. Additionally, I am selling my new collection at The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle until March 2016,  this is in collaboration with Craft Scotland. I have stock from my previous collection in Gill Wing Jewellery shop in Islington, London.

I have also recently launched my online shop on my website, www.bethspowart.co.uk where I am selling some of my new earrings and I will be adding more items in the next few months.

Beth’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.

Emma McFarline

In the first of our blog posts about the six new designers exhibiting with us at the Barbican this winter, DJG member Jane Moore interviews Emma McFarline about her jewellery.
Me with my stand at One Year On
JM: Where did you train?
EMF: I did a foundation course in Northern Ireland.  I was keen to do ceramics and or textiles and very interested in combining these materials to produce wearable jewellery so I decided to apply to do a degree at Edinburgh University. I was accepted on my first choice.
Stephen Bottomley was the head of school and one of my tutors was Susan Cross.
JM: How did you get into enamelling?
EMF: I was fortunate enough to have Stacey Bentley as an Artist in Resident who helped and encouraged me quite a bit. Also Jessica Turrell came to teach a few days. I then was very interested in learning more and had the opportunity to go to West Dean where I did a short residential course with Elizabeth Turrell.
Elizabeth was very inspiring, she introduced me to working with liquid enamel and how to apply transfers to the surface of  pre enamel coated steel. This is what I work with now and set it into a silver base.
JM: Where do you find your inspiration for the imagery you are using?
EMF: I am constantly taking photos of urban landscapes and particularly interested in the visual concept of graffiti. I then manipulate the images on Photoshop and then have these digitally printed by a company in Stoke on Trent.
JM: Where is your workshop now? 
EMF: I work from my workshop back home in Ireland. On graduating  I was successful in acquiring a bursary from The British Society of Enamellers. This enabled me to buy a kiln and guillotine to start my workshop but I really miss living in a city where I get my inspiration and look forward to moving sometime.
JM: Did you have a successful show at New Designers ?
EMF: Yes I did. I was thrilled to be invited to exhibit at the Barbican with the Designer Jewellers Group and I was also invited by Tony Gordon to take part in this years’ Dazzle. This has given me a great start in my career.
photo
Jane Moore and Emma McFarline at the Barbican Centre
Emma’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 24th December 2015.