Isn’t it amazing that no matter how you try to organise your creative process, you’ll always default to a certain way of doing something?!
I love Claire Gent’s honesty that although she’d love to have a big sketchbook full of designs, her brain just doesn’t work that way!
I first came across Claire’s whimsical and intricate work on Facebook, where her pieces seemed to have little personalities of their own!
Find out that she’s obsessed with tea, why she switched to creating jewellery from being a lighting designer and how she’s still working on that work/life balance thing (like most of us!)…
Are you a tea of coffee kinda person?
Very tea. Different types at different times of day. I even order a cup of tea at the pub!
How would you describe your jewellery?
Colourful, illustrative, quirky.
What materials do you use?
Sterling silver and anodised aluminium mainly, with a bit of copper and brass detailing.
Whereabouts in the UK are you based?
Beautiful Tavistock in Devon, UK.
Where do you create your jewellery?
I have a cabin in the garden. It’s divided in two. Half for making and half for an office space…it’s horrendously messy.
Do you class yourself first and foremost as a maker or designer?
Definitely a designer… although making fuels new designs.
What’s the favourite piece in your jewellery collection?
I think it’s the badger necklace from my Little Landscapes range… I kept the first piece for myself.
What’s the piece you’re most proud of creating?
Rather than a piece I think it’s my Little Landscapes range. I’ve had a loose idea for it in my head for years but hadn’t managed to design pieces I was happy with. But then a few months ago it all came together and I’m really pleased with it.
What’s your design process?
It varies. Ideas come from the world around me, the countryside and beach, books and illustrations, stories and so on.
It’s usually just a detail such as a shape or colour combination. Then I might do some little thumbnail sketches. I tend to work on tiny pieces of paper, like post it notes. I’d love to have a beautiful sketch book but I don’t seem to be able to work that way!
Although I have done some larger drawings that were intended to be lino prints, but then became jewellery. Sometimes I have bits and pieces in the workshop, an off cut of aluminium or a shape that wasn’t included in a design that then inspires something new. It’s quite an organic process for me.
How important is jewellery design to you?
Very. Although maybe just not jewellery design, maybe more design in general. It’s part of who I am.
What do you love about jewellery?
The variety and the way it can instantly complete an outfit. And the way you can never have too much!
How did you start creating jewellery? Where did you learn?
I was working as a lighting designer and felt I needed more creativity in my life so I started a recreational jewellery course in the evenings at Poole and Bournemouth College of Art.
Why did you fall in love with jewellery design?
I think I actually fell in love with handmade jewellery and really wanted to own it so I thought why not learn to make it for myself?
What are your aspirations for your business?
I think I’d like to keep it small and keep moving my designs forward. I’d like to experiment with some different techniques, such as enamelling. I’ve had a kiln for an embarrassing amount of time and still haven’t used it! And I’d love to make some automata too.
Where do you feel most inspired?
Outdoors in the Devon and Cornwall coast and countryside. We have lots of dramatic landscapes and ever changing colourful weather. I’m very lucky to live here.
Who else inspires you?
Ooh there’s so many wonderful makers out there. A couple that have inspired my journey so far are John Moore for his exquisite forms in aluminium: Lindsey Mann for her bold printed aluminium pieces and Janine Partington for the way she continues to move her designs on. I love other crafts too, especially ceramics.
How do you juggle all the different aspects of the job?
Sometimes well, sometimes not! I work really hard, and sometimes don’t have a day off in months, although I’ve addressed the balance much more this year. Design and making tends to win over jobs that are more out of my comfort zone, so I need to work on that.
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?
The internet is your greatest asset in finding makers. I sell mainly through Folksy but there is also Etsy, Made by Hand Online and many wonderful galleries to explore.