Followers of the blog will be aware of our new series where we take an in-depth look at interesting people connected with the jewellery industry, and in this post we’re delighted to be going “through the Loupe” with Sian Bostwick to discover what goes on behind the scenes when she makes her beautiful handcrafted jewellery. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sian’s work she is a fabulous silversmith and jeweller creating from her workshop in Kent, and who recently won the 2014 UK Watch and Jewellery Awards New Designer of the Year award, you can read more about her on her blog:
Tell us a bit about the jewellery you design:
All the jewels I create are influenced by literature, fairy tales and my favourite stories. So each jewel has elements and details from the stories in the jewellery, like the hidden porthole of Nautilus collection or the spiral of Alice’s tumble down the rabbit hole and the royal crest of wonderland in the Wonderland hearts. I always want to work in these detail and elements of the story’s so that the wearer can treasure the story and carry it with them always.
How did you get into jewellery designing?
Making has always been part of my life, I was always creating and making things growing up, so after school I went to art college at UCA Rochester for the foundation year course. It was on this foundation course that we had a day in the jewellery workshops and that was it! I was in love with the processes, tools (sooo many fun tools) and accurately making something beautiful that would be treasured and kept for generations. It’s a beautifully romantic idea, but it’s wonderful – jewellery making is the perfect balance of my artsy creative side and my tool loving making side which comes from the line of engineers (civilian and military) in my family.
[wow how interesting – taking all that hereditary engineering skill and applying it to jewellery – no wonder you can get all those lovely intricate details!]
All your jewellery is handmade – that must be an enormous amount of work – how do you manage?
Most of the time it is me working away in my workshop creating each and every jewel, but at busy times, like at Christmas or before and after a large show, I do have help in the workshop. Everything is still beautifully handcrafted in our Kent workshop, but with the assistance of a work experience interns, sometimes I work with a new trainee or one that I have worked with before. This means I can still supply all our of wonderful jewellery lovers with the enchanted jewels all beautiful crafted with the help of our lovely assistants.
[What great experience for your interns – it’s really nice to see the knowledge being passed on, hopefully they’ll get some wonderful inspiration as well as practical experience]
Where do you design and make your jewellery?
Each and every jewel is made in my little workshop based in an artist’s studio complex, attached to an art centre with a gallery, café and lovely sunlit courtyards. It’s wonderful to be based at the Nucleus Arts Centre, it has a wonderfully creative and artistic vibe as it is full of about 30 studios with other artists and creative in residence which creates a great environment to work in. My workshop it’s self is a little room of jewels, bursting with jewellery to wonder at, fun tools and machinery, a very small selection of inspiring books and collections of bits and bobs including vintage tea sets. My own wonderful space to work in everyday with my jewels, tools and inspiring things around me.
Designing is done either in the workshop were I can play with materials and make models and test pieces to try out an idea. I also tend to carry my little sketchbook with me all the time so I design were ever and when ever I want, normally while reading and relaxing, walking in the countryside or just wherever I am. These are normally rough initial ideas and sketches that I will neaten out, refine and work out the construction and details in the workshop.
I am also able to offer workshop visits, which I started almost as soon as I moved into my studio space at the art centre, once I had the space set up and sorted out it just seemed like a great idea. It is an opportunity to visits the workshop where all the jewels are made and see that they are all made by hand and beautifully crafted. Some like to come and discuss bespoke jewellery ideas and options for customising, or just to have fun trying on lots of enchanted jewellery and having a wonderful afternoon. We have always received great feedback and I have found that people love to see where the jewels are made, the tools that make them and get an idea of the work and processes involved. They also love the chance to see our full collections and one-off pieces, see what bespoke jewels can be created in person all in a relaxed afternoon with a lovely bit of tea from my vintage tea sets.
[We think this sounds really exciting, being inside a workshop and getting to see the process up close and personal is always so interesting]
What are your influences?
Wonderful tales and books with a bit of classical elegant design. Each collection is influenced by a story or book like the legend of Tristan & Isuelt, Alice in Wonderland, 20,000 League Under the Sea and tale of enchanted woodlands, fairy tales and fairy filled glades. I always want my jewellery to have details and element of the story or for the Springtime collection the feel of fairytale magic and enchantment. All with a touch of elegance and style which means the jewellery can be worn effortlessly and beautifully by anyone.
How difficult was it to set up your own business?
One of the trickiest things was finding a suitable space to base myself and work from, finding a suitable space in my area that I could use as a workshop and was affordable was difficult, eventually I was able to get my workshop set up at the Nucleus Arts Centre. Whilst there are a lot of artists studio spaces in the highly creative and buzzing area of Medway, there aren’t many for messy and noisy workers like myself! Once we moved into our studio space and were able to create our workshop we have been able to grow and grow, it’s been really wonderful.
What did you do before you designed jewellery?
After graduating from the UCA Rochester Jewellery and Silversmithing BA (Hons) I worked for a few other designers, makers and gallery’s gaining invaluable experience before setting up my own jewellery brand and launching at IJL (International Jewellery London) on the Kickstart stand.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I have lots of plans to expand the business over the next few years, including international stockists, more media and press coverage and lots of new jewellery collections. But the final major aspiration is for my own little boutique with a in-house workshop with space for another designer or 2; a consultation area where I can sit down with customers and discuss bespoke jewellery designs and commissions; a little shop front area stocking all our beautiful jewels and a few one-off pieces of jewellery alongside selection of jewels from British jewellery designer/makers whose work I love. A real wonder room and treasure trove of jewellery delights, where we have lovely little late open evenings new jewellery line launches to. But this is far off, but I know I will make it happen.
What do you like to do when you’re not designing jewellery?
I live in Rochester in Kent which is a beautiful area and a very buzzing artistic scene, there are lots of artists studios, makers and art café’s as well as wondrous second-hand book shops and antique treasure troves so it’s a lovely place to relax and spend some time whilst not working. I dig though the bookshops for inspiration or wonder though the beautiful cathedral. I also love to walk in the beautiful Kent countryside, walking though the woods and coastline enjoying the peace, it’s very inspirational and I love being outside exploring theses spaces.
What sort of jewellery do you like to wear?
Mostly my own creations, its a perk of the job to make a few pieces for yourself! You are always the best advertiser for your jewellery so its great to wear your own work as much as you can. I have a few things from each collection and I love wearing them all the time. I wouldn’t design or make anything I don’t love and would wear myself. I do have a few pieces from other designer maker that I also love and wear along with my own creations, I have some amazing necklaces my Momocreatura, Jessica de Lotz and Clare English which have been gifts after some heavy hinting to my other half.
What’s your favourite gemstone?
I love iridescent shimmering stones like Moonstones, Labradorite and opal; also my birthstone Emerald for its vibrant colour. These are just the top few but there are so many stones that I just love to work with and stone shopping is always a bit dangerous, it pretty hard to be strict with yourself and not get all the gorgeous pretty stones you want.
[hmmm yes we know what you mean, there’s just something so buyable about stones! Labradorite is one of our favourites too!]
White gold or yellow gold…or something else?
Silver, then beautifully pink rose gold (which looks stunning) but I also work a lot with titanium which is a wonderful material. It’s brilliantly light weight,incredibly strong and there is the possibility of anodising the titanium to achieve a whole rainbow of colours. At the moment I use the blue and purple colours when anodising as it works perfectly for my butterfly’s and forget me not flowers, creating a stunning slightly iridescent purple blues.
Thank you so much to Sian for letting us get to know you a little better – if you’re inspired by this piece you can visit Sian’s website and even her workshop! You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter at @sianbostwick. We really hope you’ve enjoyed this post, if you are a designer, jewellery or work in any aspect of the jewellery or gemstone industry and fancy coming Through the Loupe with us please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.