14 Jan The life of a jewellery designer… Annette Marshall
I am a designer/maker of silver jewellery living and working in the Cotswolds. My work has many different influences from nature to art.
I take a lot of inspiration from my interactions with nature and the world around me. Living in the Cotswolds and having two young children has given me the opportunity to explore the British countryside, observing the flora and fauna around me.
Spending a lot of leisure time in Cornwall, with my family, has allowed me insight into the natural beauty of beaches, rock pools, cliff tops, long sandy beaches, pebbly harbours and the powerful sea that I have then used to influence my designs.
I have always loved jewellery, and started making simple jewellery pieces for myself from a very early age.
I thrived on designing and creating pieces that could not be found easily on the high street, drawing from my own ideas of jewellery that I would love to own and wear but could never find to buy.
This evolved with age. I would own a dress with a particular design that I wanted to echo in my jewellery or a particular neckline that I wanted to compliment or even fill with a necklace. There were also items that I wanted that were usually made in cheap throwaway materials that I wanted in a more luxurious or hardwearing material, Items such as hairbands, slides, belts, keyrings and even chip forks.
Most of these items I made initially for myself, as I never imagined being lucky enough to be able to do this for a living.
I love that fact that jewellery can be subtle outward expression of your personality that can be worn with any outfit to any occasion. It has the ability to completely transform any outfit from plain to something quite distinct.
Jewellery can also be so personal to the wearer and can evoke so many memories and feelings in a similar way that perfumes are capable of.
I enjoy creating tactile pieces with multiple moving interconnected elements that may produce a delicate sound as they move, the sound that it makes then helping to remind the wearer of the beautiful piece of jewellery that they are wearing.
My finished pieces of jewellery are primarily made of either sterling or fine silver but if I need extra depth or colour I sometimes include rose gold.
I usually start with an initial design idea, which for me can come from anywhere and everywhere. Past influences have come from my love of the British countryside and seasons with crisp autumn leaves, summer butterflies, the rain, a peacock from a trip to a stately home, a feather found on the ground, seaside holidays or my daughter making daisy chains in the summer.
Stories can also influence me and my work. My dragonfly collection was born from a story ‘dragonflies and water bugs’ that I had been told which helps to help people deal with loss and when worn in this context helps the wearer to remember old friends. For me, sounds can also be an influence, wind chimes and the tinkle of a small bell, these sounds influenced my charm collection as I wanted to create pieces that created a lovely sound when the wearer moves.
Following these initial ideas, I produce sketches and take photographs. These sketches lead to practice pieces being created (normally in copper) until the piece begins to feel how I initially imagined it.
I then wear this piece constantly for a while to ensure that it is comfortable, lies correctly, moves as I wish, is secure and is not restrictive in any way, during this period I make daily minor adjustments until it is perfect.
It is only then I make it up in silver. Sometimes however, I can make up a piece in silver and the high shine of the silver does not suit the piece. I then have to play with different textures and finishes to achieve my desired finish.
I am a romantic at heart and have a keen interest in historical design and fashion. I have used this to my benefit by creating beautiful spoon rings from Solid Silver, antique cutlery. Each piece being steeped in its own history with some dating back 100s of years, displaying beautiful ancient hallmarks and retaining that historical feel.
Spoon rings were created out of love, where that love was stronger than the ability to afford expensive wedding bands and maids and house staff would fashion their wedding ring from a solid silver spoon.
I love the idea of taking an old unloved piece with its own history and story and giving it a new lease of life in a different and unexpected form.
These rings depending of the type of spoon can either be quite dainty or really chunky but always eminently wearable. Most of my spoons I source by browsing local antique shops and markets. I also love to find other historical items that can be used to make beautiful silver jewellery: sugar tongs, forks, spreaders and even old silver coins.