Katherine Lawrie Jewellery

Designer & Maker

Tag: design

Over the years jewellers have invented new tools to ‘do the job’. Many items remain the same as they simply can’t be improved upon, and are still similar in design to those that were used in mediaeval times. Some are redesigned and just don’t work as well as the original. Other redesigns were a huge success.

medieval jewellery workshop

I have a mixture of second hand and ‘new to me’ tools. My Father’s studio was left fully stocked when he immigrated to America, so I was very lucky to inherit several wonderful bits of kit.

These are my favourite pliers designed for bending rings; I assume were second hand when my dad bought them as I believe they were manufactured in the 1940/50s. I also like using a big chunky pair of Maun parallels. (www.maunindustries.com)

I have two rolling mills, one is a Durston (www.durston.co.uk) and the other older set is probably as old as my pliers, not sure of the manufacturer. I assume they are both made in the UK. They made things to last back then. I use the bigger one for doing all my roller texturing work. Its survived being miss treated by students, and having sweets crushed in the cogs by me kids when they were small. The kids are now older enough to know better, but they were banned from entering for a few years.

I have several saw frames, but my two favourites are:

One which I bought new when I was at college, can you believe that’s over twenty years ago? And the other lovely rose wood handled frame which is great for slightly bigger work, which I bought at a car boot sale.

My polishing machine has seen better days, but is still going strong. This was purchased new from Hatton Garden back in the 1070s when my mum was pregnant with me. I’d love to update it, but there’s really no need whilst it hangs in there.

My newest piece of equipment was a birthday gift from my dad. It’s an amazing all singing and dancing setting clamp. Which makes setting a lot easier. It comes off the bench and then is replaced by my peg when not in use so is multifunctional too. (www.grs.com)

Lastly, but not least, is my ‘can never be replaced’ setting tool. Made from a jewellery tool handle and a screw! I can’t use anything else, as it just doesn’t work. This little mushroom sits in the palm of my hand and is just right.

Tools are like old friends, you pick up from where you left off, and they support you no matter what!

If you fancy learning how to use some of these wonderful tools or just come to visit my studio and showroom over the summer all my details are available on my website:

Jewellery Workshops or simply message me via Contact

Memorial Jewellery

Jewellery made in memory.

Jewellery has contained symbolism and has been part of the rituals in life for as far back as history has been recorded.

Angels wings

Adornments and jewellery have been used to represent and remember those who have died.

The ancient Egyptians valued personal adornment highly. The deceased were adorned for their send off into the afterlife. The symbols within these adornments were equally important to those alive and in memory for those who had died. The rarer the gemstones and materials the better, as this was a sign of great wealth and success. Gemstones where carved to emulate symbolic forms like scarab beetles which conveyed renewal, regeneration and endurance of the soul. Snakes were used as a representation of spirit guardians and the spirit, and also a symbol of ever lasting love.

Memento Mori jewellery (16th-18th Century) was created to remind us of the inevitability of death. This often contained skulls, coffins and skeletons, and were often worn in remembrance. Also the wearing of such jewellery would be regarded as a kind of talisman and was worn as protection and a constant reminder.

This idea has been modernised in line with contemporary life. One can now have jewellery made containing your loved ones ashes, and even have their remains made into diamonds.

It is possible that a jewellery was comparable to a photograph in todays society. To commission a painting may well have been too costly where as a token piece of jewellery might have been a more achievable price.

In present times we think of the Victorians being most noted for their mourning jewellery. White enamel would represent a single person, black a wife or husband and the use of pearls in a piece of mourning jewellery represented the death of a child. Inscriptions were often included in these pieces of jewellery.  The mourning period during Victorians times had strict rules and etiquette. Both women and men wore mourning jewellery.

Different stages of mourning were represented by different colours. After a period of time the mourner could progress to colours other than black or white. The colours of Blue, Grey and Purple would have been reflected in the jewellery that was worn.

Often money was left in a will for the purpose of creating morning rings for specified list of mourners. Jewellery often contained a piece of the relatives hair.

I have had the honour of making several pieces of jewellery which were commissioned in memory of someone who had died.

turquoise

Turquoise is know as a stone of protection.

 

 

 

 

How it all began……

People often ask when did I start making jewellery. I often answer when I was little.

Now you may think that little children can’t make jewellery, or indeed that they shouldn’t even be allowed in to a jewellery workshop! When me and my younger sister were little we lived in a house which had a purpose built studio attached to the back.

penfold

As my Dad, a jeweller, worked from home we spent many hours with him in his studio when he was working.

dad

I have vivid memories of hammering metal, creating melted blobs of silver from scraps and drilling holes with a hand drill. This was all before the age of ten!

I do often feel guilty that I haven’t offered this opportunity to my own children. The only time they actually entered into my studio, before the aged of ten, the boys grabbed hammers and began to whack them onto the anvil. Once they had left I found a sweet had been mashed into the cogs of my prized rolling mills. So that was the end of that!

When I was ten years old we moved from Steyning high street to a farm just outside the town. My dad set up a new workshop in the old farm buildings.

cowshed-two

I would often spend time ‘playing’ with bits of metal in his workshop.

When  I got to secondary school I manage to incorporate some of my designs into my coursework. I also found that my friends would actually pay me to make them pieces of jewellery, so it was a great way to earn some pocket money.

By the age of 17, I concentrated on working a piece from design through to finished product.I took part in Young Craftsman of the Year Competition, which was part of the South of England Show in June. I came third and won first place over a couple of years. Winning quite a nice pot of money! My winning piece’s design was derived from a poppy seed head.

yound-craftsman-of-the-year

At sixth form college I designed and made portable work bench. I think by this point I still regarded jewellery making as a hobby, but I did have several customers!

In 1993, once again following in my father’s footsteps, I went on to complete a foundation course at the Union Place campus of Northbrook College.

1995artunionplace

Thank you to The Worthing Sociey for this image of the building in 1995, it has since been replaced with housing.

I wasn’t very creative student, and my tutors were a little concerned that I didn’t have what it takes to go to Art College. I worked hard and learnt how to draw, paint, work in clay and develop photos. Than came the time where students had to decide which course to apply to next. My tutors took me to one side, and asked why I was applying for Jewellery and silversmithing courses. Obviously, I had forgotten to mention my hobby to them. I took my jewellery to show them, and I they were impressed!

I applied to the Surrey Institute of Arts and Design and completed a two year HND. From there I decide I was not yet ready to hit the real world, so I became a student at Edinburgh College of Art.

In 1997 reality hit, I left college and took over my Father’s studio, which had moved from the Cowshed to the Stable. I have been working there ever since.

 

 

 

 

Loving this sunshine

ImageImageLots of new photos of my work featured on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.53845546563.67541.53844856563&type=1&ref=notif&notif_t=like

I love sharing pictures of new pieces. Once they are sold that is the only record I have of them. Once they’ve gone they have gone.

I only make one of each design. If some one asks for a repeat design I find it really difficult to replicate. It will never be exactly the same especially if it is a roller textured design. This is a great selling point, truely unique pieces!!