Katherine Lawrie Jewellery

Designer & Maker

Tag: steyning

The History Of Hallmarking
The concept of Hallmarking itself dates back to Byzantine times, but wasn’t noticeable until the 1300s in the UK. King Edward l put a law in place requiring the testing of silver to ensure that the alloys being used were up to correct standards. He designated particular experts to be guardians of the craft. They would visit craft workers in their studios to do the testing. They were then responsible for testing work to verify that the silver had a silver content of at least 92.5%. Once this was ascertained the work was then stamped with a Leopard’s head. London assay office still use that symbol today since they adopted it in 1544.
Leopard's Head hallmark
King Edward III granted a royal charter to the Goldsmith’s Company, formally known as the Worshipful Company of Goldsmith’s in 1327, which allowed them to become a company. Which was then run out of Goldsmith’s Hall, which can be found in the City of London.
This is thought to be where the phrase Hallmark was born, but was not officially recorded as a term until 1721, gaining popularity in 1864 when it officially denoted quality. We can still offer that reassurance today.
What is Hallmarking?
The term Hallmarking describes the practice of stamping or ‘marking’ a piece of precious metal so the owner or purchaser knows what a piece of jewellery or metal ware is made of. This mark gives a piece of work authenticity. British Hallmarking regulations are quite stringent, meaning that if one wishes to sell a piece of jewellery or something made of precious metal it must bare a hallmark.
Image shows the punch being struck to apply hallmark
There are several ‘assay’ offices in the UK, generally makers would send their work off to the one most local to them. However, in recent years this has changed as you can use any assay office in the country. The assay office is the place where the work goes off to be assayed or tested for fineness. This can be done by a scrape test or a the use of an X-ray machine.
The Marks
Image shows the five traditional marks currently used The image shows the five traditional marks that my work bears. The Sponsor’s Mark is special to each maker, as only they have it. The Standard mark tells you the alloy your item is made of. The Fineness mark is a traditional mark which also tells you the fineness, or alloy of the metal. Each UK assay office holds it own stamp, as mentioned previously London has the Leopard, Birmingham the anchor, Sheffield the rose, and Edinburgh a castle. The each year has a corresponding letter. 2019’s letter is u.
Everyone selling precious metals should have this sign on display:

The Society was founded by a group of Botanical artists over 30 years ago, and now comprises of over 120 members. As a Society we hold one large exhibition every year, and members are currently working on an pieces for an exhibition which will be held at the Palmengarten in Frankfurt, Germany. We hold an exhibition biennially in Central London too. This calendar is interwoven with regional and themed exhibitions all over the country and abroad.

https://www.soc-botanical-artists.org/about/about-the-society/

Applying to be a member of the SBA was something I had never even considered until I had a conversation with my neighbour, Alice Harman SBA. Being a jeweller I assumed that an artist’s society was no place for me.

My plant inspired work has always been botanically inspired, and often very correct as quite often I use the botanical specimen to create the imprint on my silver. I use a technique called roller texturing which I learnt at college, as every jewellery student does. Once I left college this technique became the main focus for my work, I usually concentrated on leaves and flowers.

I offered my work for selection for the Open Exhibition and a few years down the line, my work having been selected every year, I was very pleased to be offered Associate and then Full membership. Over time I have seen the Societies’ exhibitions as a focus to create slightly more challenging and sculptural pieces. These have been very well received both by the Society, and my customers.

I was very honoured to be asked to design and make Sandra Wall-Armitage our President’s leaving present earlier this year. Which was presented to her at the Society’s AGM.

I am constantly looking for new inspiration in my surroundings, a walk in the countryside, around the garden or at the beach is always an excuse for a photo shoot to seek out the next piece of inspiration.

Follow me on Instagram to see what inspiration I’ve found recently!

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

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.

 

 

 

 

It’s that Open House time of year!

       
May is the start of the Open House season.

I have been taking part in Open houses for around 15years. I been lucky to take part in several venues within the Artists Open House group in Fiveways. Fiveways Artist group was were it all started over 30 years ago.

 
This year I also took part in an exhibition called ‘Breaking the Rules’ which was at the Jointure Studio in Ditchling. An historically artist community!

 
It is the ninth year that an art trail has taken place in Steyning. I organised the Art Trail as part of the Steyning Festival. As the festival went to a biannual event, I stepped down from this role. Steyning Arts was formed. Several years ago I joined the organising committee. I am now current Chair, and along side a committee of eight other we organise various community arts events. Our role as a society is a combination of supporting fellow artists providing them with facilities to exhibit and hopefully sell their work. Also enabling the public to gain easy access to the visual arts 

  
   

www.steyningarts.co.uk
I always views these events as potential selling times, but more importantly a time to meet your public, and spread the word about your work. Display standards must be maintained. 

  
         

June heralds the start of open garden season. I will be taking part in Henfield Garden and Arts, West Sussex.

http://www.henfieldhub.com/festival-of-gardens-and-arts/gardens-arts-is-gearing-up-for-june

Also in July I will be at Parham House and Gardens, near Storrington, West Sussex, for their Garden weekend.

See you somewhere soon!

http://www.parhaminsussex.co.uk/events-and-courses/events.html