Melanie Blaikie is a jewellery maker, instructor of imaginative skills and internationally offering author. We took a seat with Melanie (practically) recently to answer a few questions about her jewellery making journey, what influences her and more in the interview below.
Let us understand a bit about yourself, detailing your background, study and training in the jewellery making market.
Several years ago, I addressed an anonymous advert in the paper and suddenly landed my first task– as a trainee diamond dealer with DeBeers. This presented me to the terrific world of precious gems and amazing craftspeople of Hatton Garden. I started to specialise in design and worked with numerous of the big name Bond Street jewellers. Although I enjoyed this work, approximately this point, I wasnt really making jewellery myself. It was lots of years– and a change of career– later, that I signed up for a silversmithing course and discovered it was far more tough than I d thought of …!! My continued curiosity about all things jewellery led me to, what was at that time a brand-new medium– clay silver. The rest is history …!
Tell us about your work– exist any particular materials or techniques that you favour?
I work solely in clay silver which is still a fairly current development worldwide of rare-earth elements. The clay is a mix of recycled pure silver with water and a natural binder. Its smooth, flexible texture makes it perfect to shape and sculpt by hand. Since discovering silver clay, Ive been on an objective to introduce it to a larger audience. My work tends to be based around styles that will be basic for beginners to recreate at house, with a minimum of expert or expensive equipment. When fired, it ends up being solid, great silver metal and can be hallmarked 999. Its a practically magical procedure that entirely entryways beginners– and I absolutely enjoy it …!!
How would you finest explain your design style?
I like to establish styles that may at first appear complex or highly detailed however due to the fact that of the residential or commercial properties of silver clay, are easy for beginners to recreate. I like quick projects with outstanding results and silver clay delivers on this– every time!
When Im not mentor, one of my preferred methods is Keum Bo, using 24ct gold leaf directly over fine silver. Ive simply completed a gold and silver acorn pendant which Im wearing today.
Where do you like to get your inspiration from for your pieces?
Working with clay is rather different to conventional metalsmithing. It looks exceptionally advanced pressed onto the damp clay.
Do you have a piece that you have made which you favour or are especially proud of?
Im quite much self-taught with silver clay. This implies, theyre the ones that went incorrect, triggered me an issue or just where I made a mistake.
Looking at one of my earlier disasters (yes, I do keep them all) will not be much enjoyable here. Ive selected this heart pendant on pearls, just due to the fact that I love the pearls!
What is the one item in your jewellery making workshop that you could not live without?
Something Ive constantly enjoyed about making jewellery is that numerous of the techniques are the same with time. I couldnt live without my agate burnisher. This smooth stone has been used for centuries to polish rare-earth elements and I enjoy that sense of history. Its a joy to use, soft, strong and ideal for function. Its smoothness makes it perfect for Keum Bo as it wont scratch or tear the fragile gold foil.
What approaching trends do you see being popular soon?
Whatever about 2020 has actually been unanticipated. Weve discovered a new way of coping with less. Spending less but picking more sensibly, so my prediction for 2021 will be simpler, less conspicuous designs created to be more significant to the wearer. Incorporating inspiring quotes or concealed significances will be popular, along with initials or family keepsakes.
What is the most valuable lesson you have gained from your time in the jewellery making industry?
Ive met so numerous extremely talented and smart people, many of whom have ended up being long-lasting good friends. I believe the jewellery industry is distinct in the sense of trust we position in our peers and associates, and receive in return.
Do you have any specific recommendations that you would provide to up and coming jewellery designers, or somebody thinking about entering jewellery making?
To somebody considering taking up jewellery making as a pastime or 2nd income, its almost the ideal side-hustle. You can begin with very little, it really does not need to be pricey– think recycled materials– and your brand-new hobby will not use up excessive area (in the beginning.!!).
To the expert jeweller or designer, this market can be very susceptible to economic changes. I know this from personal experience. Make sure you have a back-up or secondary skill-set to call upon. Hopefully, you wont need to but it will offer you self-confidence to understand that you can survive when times are lean.
Time for a bit of fun in our quick-fire round!
Tell us your favourite …
Colour– GreenBiscuit– Fig Roll (truthfully!) Drink– Coffee with cream (its my special reward) Place– Anywhere warm and sunnyAnimal– DogGemstone– Peridot. Happy to see it gaining new popularityFood– CakeSport– RugbyFilm — My Fair Lady with Audrey HepburnCity– London.
What was your inspiration behind your book and what would you want individuals to discover from it?
View Silver Clay Workshop: Getting Started in Silver Clay Jewellery by Melanie Blaikie.
I was originally writing for a UK audience, Im delighted to have actually gotten messages from readers in Europe, the United States and even as far away as Australia …!
Lots of thanks to Melanie for sharing her insight and jewellery making journey with us.
As pointed out earlier, when I discovered silver clay the only readily available books on the subject were Japanese or American. These were vital in assisting me get going however I recognised that a comprehensive guide for UK based novices was needed.
The book is specifically aimed at those just starting out with silver clay. The early pages show how simple it is to get started with simply a few easy tools and methods. For me, an excellent job is one thats enjoyable and simple to make at house.