The beautiful thing about jewellery, is not just its beauty. But also its intent. The history of a piece, from the designer and maker to the wearer is so important.
That’s why I think it’s so lovely when a collection is created especially with a charity in mind.
Claire Lowe was so moved to do something to help the homeless that she created a collection to help make a difference.
Here on The Jewellery Spot she talks about how first and foremost she’s a maker (and how she’s a tea girl, through and through!).
First things first…are you a tea or coffee kinda girl?
Tea, always tea. I’ve never really even tried coffee. Tea is my thing,its my first and last drink of the day, in celebration and in turmoil I always turn to tea.
How would you describe your jewellery?
Mixed media contemporary jewellery, simple forms with a limited colour palette.
What materials do you use?
I use silver, some pieces are oxidised (which means they’re treated to turn the surface black). In addition, I also use bio-resin, a low-impact resin – manufactured with renewable vegetable carbon instead of petroleum-based carbon. Then I add pigments to the resin to get the colours I require, each colour tone is mixed by me.
Where do you create your jewellery?
I work from my home studio in Devon. We recently converted an old brick garage into a proper room, so for the first time ever my studio has a window and a door! Over the years I’ve made jewellery in garages, under the stairs and in a boiler cupboard.
Whereabouts do you Iive in the UK?
We relocated to Exmouth, Devon almost three years ago. It was a big risky move. as we left a stable life for something different. But it was a brilliant leap of faith. We love living by the sea and the pace of life is much calmer.
I first saw your work a few years ago, when you used to set tea in resin. I loved the ingenuity of that! Where did you get the idea?
Thank you! The Tea collection started at university with a tea strainer, we had to bring in an object for a short project. I started to cast tea leaves in plaster and then moved onto resin.
The collection grew over the years, I still make tea jewellery, I just don’t share it as much on social media. After so many years, it’s nice to have a change.
How have your pieces evolved over the years?
A new collection developed about four years ago. It started with a teardrop shape and grey, white and yellow resin. I’m still exploring and creating with this collection. I don’t draw designs, I have to make them, ideas develop best when I’m making.
Describe your studio to us…
My children call it the dentist’s, as its all white with white cupboards. I’m gradually filling it with things I love and prints from small businesses, to add colour and inspiration.
Tell us about your latest collection…
I’ve created a limited-edition red collection, I get commissions for different colours and I’m always happy to work with customers on different colourways and styles. Recently somebody ordered red and I really liked the way it turned out, how the red resin popped against the oxidised silver. I decided to create a small collection just for sale during November and December, which will raise money for the charity, ‘Crisis’.
Why did you decide to create a collection for charity?
As well as the collection being limited-edition I thought it’d be great to be able to donate a proportion of the sales to charity. Christmas is a time for giving and this is a great way for me to be able to make a difference, not only financially but also by raising awareness for an important cause.
Why was the charity ‘Crisis’ so important to you?
It took me a while to decide on a charity of choice, there are so many worthy causes. I started to look around me to see if I could be influenced. I work in the centre of Exeter one day a week and am always saddened by how many homeless people I pass on my way to work.
So many people sleeping in doorways and struggling to keep warm. I found myself worrying about them when it rains, and when the weather turns cold. This lead me to look for a homeless charity, and I decided on Crisis as it’s a national charity and one that everyone will have heard of.
Where did you learn to create jewellery?
I studied Silversmithing, jewellery and allied crafts at London Metropolitan University, I graduated in 2005.
What’s your favourite part of being a Jewellery Designer?
Making. I just love making jewellery. When I have time where I can’t get to my bench I really miss it, my hands miss the processes and the freedom. I’m a maker and even if this wasn’t a viable business, I would still need to make to satisfy that ‘making’ desire.
You also teach jewellery making – what do you enjoy about teaching?
I really enjoy passing on skills, seeing students taking the basic skills and moving in their own direction, making in their own style.
What’s your proudest moment of being a Jewellery Designer?
Every time I receive an order, or a new enquiry from a gallery I feel proud. A big moment for me was having my jewellery for sale in the Tate Modern shop. It was quite surreal visiting and seeing what I’d made in such a prestigious gallery shop.
What would you do if you weren’t a jewellery designer?
After my first baby I almost enrolled to become a midwife, I found the magic of childbirth so striking, I really wanted to learn more. But at the time a five year part-time degree course seemed like such a commitment. Especially with a young baby. Its something I still think about and often wonder ‘what if’.
What’s your jewellery design process?
My jewellery design process is making. I might doodle a quick drawing with dimensions, wire thickness/length etc, but generally most of my designing happens at the bench with metal and tools.
How important is jewellery design to you?
Jewellery design is really important. It’s really important for makers to create their own designs and make a body of work that flows and have a common thread or theme, so it can be recognised as their work. There’s a real element of reproduction of ideas which I think has become more of an issue since social media has become so big.
As much as it’s a great tool for socialising, it does feel risky to share too much for fear of other makers borrowing ideas and style.
What do you love about jewellery?
I love the fact that jewellery can change an outfit, even a different pair of earrings can take an outfit from day to night in an instant. It’s such a great way to show your style or interests. There are so many great jewellery designers, working with a huge variety of materials.
How did you start creating jewellery?
I started making wearable art whilst studying for my BTEC art foundation course. I experimented with textile, wire and plastic to create hand pieces. They were a long way away from jewellery design, but certainly grew into more wearable pieces over the years.
How do you juggle all the different aspects of the job?
Sometimes it’s all very manageable, other times I have lists going strong in all areas. Ideas for jewellery to make, items need photographing, online shops need updating, website admin, paperwork, packing orders, post run. It’s a full on job but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jewellers often have to work quite flexible hours, how does that fit in with the rest of your life?
I work around my three children and am able to pick up and put down making as and when I can. My youngest is at nursery now so I have two set making days a week. Other tasks are manageable once they’re all in bed, this is when I work on the laptop keeping up with paperwork and admin.