I first saw Libby’s work at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in Manchester, last year. I was instantly drawn to the organic nature of her work, which uses real moss in the making process!
Here she tells The Jewellery Spot all about her innovative jewellery making process, how being her own boss helps with her Multiple Sclerosis and how she managed to find confidence in herself…
How would you describe your jewellery?
My design approach is based on experimental methodologies. My passion is for juxtaposing an unusual and unexpected mix of materials using a myriad of making processes, to create thought provoking jewellery. Because my work’s so tactile, it aims to connect people with textures and how they perceive preciousness through materials.
What materials do you use?
The main materials I use are silver and gold, which is combined with natural objects and resin.
Where do you create your jewellery?
I have recently moved to a purpose built studio at home.
What’s the favourite piece in your jewellery collection?
My favourite piece of jewellery is my untamed ring 2 with gold. I wear one myself and I find it complements a lot of my other jewellery too.
What’s the piece you’re most proud of creating?
The pieces I’m most proud of are my Fruticose brooch collection. I started developing this design early 2019. The process is unpredictable, which feeds my need to experiment and I also use real fruticose moss, which makes each piece a one-off and gives it character.
What’s your favourite part of being a Jewellery Designer?
I love the fact as a designer/maker I can see the whole progress through, from start to finish. From starting out as just an idea; then experimenting and making test pieces; creating a finished product and then finally taking it to shows with me – where I can get feedback from customers.
What’s your proudest moment of being a Jewellery Designer?
When I was accepted onto the Crafts Council hothouse programme, it really helped me develop my passion into a business and it gave me confidence. It was also great to be part of a family of makers, who I still see today.
Do you work directly with customers? Or sell your work to galleries?
Both. I supply work to a few galleries across the UK – including Manchester Art Gallery, The Byre in Millbrook, and Flux in Bristol. I also have work in MydayByday Gallery in Rome.
As well as the galleries, I also exhibit at some of the UK’s most prestigious craft fairs like the Great Northern Contemporary craft fair in Manchester, the Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey and MADE Marylebone in London. For the past three years I’ve also exhibited my work at Sieraad international jewellery fair in Amsterdam.
What’s your design process?
I use processes like electroforming and etching to create texture and biological inspired surfaces. These techniques allow me to create samples using a mixture of materials, which I then develop by concentrating on the composition, and how each material interacts with the other.
How important is jewellery design to you?
I believe jewellery’s a way of expressing yourself and it’s also a conversation starter. I would say these are very important, as they are a way of connecting with others.
What do you love about jewellery?
I love that there’s so many different types – from traditional to ‘art’ jewellery.
How did you start creating jewellery?
I studied 3D Design in Staffordshire, always thinking I’d be a ceramist. However, when I started working with metal something just clicked! Then when we had a self driven project in the second year, I started creating these organic specimens which you could imagine growing legs and crawling onto your clothing – working beautifully as statement brooches. I then started creating more wearable pieces.
What are your aspirations for your business?
This year I’d like to build on my collections and get some new images taken. I’d also like to increase the number of galleries I stock in both the UK and internationally.
Where do you feel most inspired?
When I’m outside walking in the woods or canoeing on a lake, I love finding different types of lichen, fungus and mushrooms. I find their colours and forms so inspiring.
Who else inspires you?
I adore the work of Swedish maker Marta Mattsson. We’re both inspired by the forest and nature. She sees beauty in what many people would see as ‘unpleasant’ by using insects and birds in her work. This has a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ feel.
How do you juggle all the different aspects of the job?
I often plan out my week ahead so I know what I need to do everyday, this helps me getting in the right frame of mind to either doing accounts or product development. I enjoy pretty much all the different aspects of being a self-employed jeweller.
Jewellers often have to work quite flexible hours, how does that fit in with the rest of your life?
Having flexible hours works great for me as I have multiple sclerosis, which can affect what I do everyday. So if I’m having a bad day and can’t concentrate, I’ll do something which doesn’t need too much attention.
What advice would you give to people looking to buy jewellery from independent makers, but who don’t know where to look or how to go about it?
There’s a really high quality of makers on madebyhandonline.com. Whenever I’m looking for gifts I often go straight on here to find new products and makers. I’d also recommend keeping an eye out for flyers for craft shows and art events.
To find out more about Libby’s work, you can visit her website here.