30 April 2013

Meet the Maker Post

Borrowed from the Made In Bristol Website, layout messed up by me!

Today's Meet the Maker is Charlotte Bezzant - the super talented 
jeweller from London.  Over to you Charlotte:

Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about 
your work? 
My name is Charlotte. I make jewellery in silver. Sometimes 
I like to include solid silver casts of little bits that have 
inspired me, like twigs and shells, in my jewellery. 
Sometimes I etch little phrases that I have scribbled in my 
sketchbook or have heard. I am inspired by all sorts of things, 
and make jewellery that I like to wear. 

Apart from creating things what else do you do? 
As well as making jewellery, I am a mum to two boys 
(in fact jewellery making has to fit round their lives). I run 
marathons (but not this year!), grow my own vegetables, 
and keep chickens in my London garden. 

When did you know you were an artist/maker? 
I have always known! Back in the sixties my mum studied 
Three Dimensional design, and my dad trained as an 
Architect. I grew up in a house where drawing and making 
things were part of everyday life. I genuinely feel that 
doing something creative is as necessary to me as breathing. 

What do you love most about working in your chosen 
I just really enjoy making things; so to translate something 
that inspires me, into something I want to wear brings a 
smile to my face. Some of my happiest times are when 
I am in my garden studio, the sun steaming in, the doors 
flung wide, and the birds singing, while I am busy making. 

Where does your inspiration come from? 
It can come from anything, but normally somewhere I have 
visited. The work in Made in Britain came about after an 
amazing trip to the Arctic wilderness. The glittering ice 
and snow was breathtaking and beautiful. The little twig 
incorporated in the work was plucked from the snow in 
-20 degrees. The words were scribbled in my sketchbook 
after coming inside to escape the ice that formed on your lashes. 

Describe your studio or workspace? 
I have the most amazing purpose built studio in my garden. 
I've already mentioned how I love working there in the Summer, 
but I also love it when the rain is drumming on the roof, 
or when it's frosty outside. It's well insulated so I am always 
snug and warm. One side looks out on my veggie patch, the 
other on my chickens, it white, and bright, and it's my own little sanctuary! 

If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer 
or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be? 
I am a nosy wotsit, and love looking in all creative spaces. 
I cant pin myself down to one name, but I would pick a mixed 
media artist so I could gawp at fabrics and found treasures. 

How would you describe your creative process? 
Something I have seen will inspire me. I might be able to 
scribble in a sketch book straight away, or it might be 
something that sits at the back of my mind for months, 
waiting for me to work out where I'm going with it. 
Sometimes I just buy gemstones. Some shout at me, and 
I have to have them, then I will make a ring that's just right 
for that particular stone. 

What handmade possession do you most cherish? 
Right now it's a little canvas of Cherry Blossom on blue sky, 
painted by my seven year old for Mother's day. 

What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut? 
It hasn't happened yet, but it could be a good excuse for an 
inspiration seeking holiday! 

Where would you like to be in ten years?
I can't possibly think that far ahead. Right now I think 
I am lucky indeed to be able to do something that I love, 
that some other people also like it enough to buy, and that 
it can fit round my family so I can always be there for my boys.

Thank you Charlotte! We all have serious studio envy!  
You can find Charlotte's beautiful pieces of jewellery 
in ourMade in Britain shop until June 2013.

Made in Britain shop is now OPEN!
Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm
Sun:  11am - 5pm
Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus, Bristol

28 April 2013

April 'Family' necklaces

This month I have made three Family necklaces. They are often commissioned as Birthday gifts, sometimes with lots of members of a family clubbing together to buy them. I love doing them, as they are often made for special occasions - big birthdays, anniversaries, or sometimes to commemorate special things. Heres a little peep at the most recent ones...

This one has such a tiny group portrait in it, daddy and two children. Even though the photo is just under 1cm across, the details are so clear.

Lots of friends got together to commission this one for a 50th birthday. No humans on this one, just a much loved dog! (Extra long 60cm chain.)

Finally, someone gave a gift voucher to their friend for one of these necklaces. She took months deciding what to put on it. In the end this one has one photograph, and three tags which read 'live, laugh, love'. It is to commemorate her special friend who died far too young. It is always deeply moving when I am asked to make necklaces that are special reminders like this, but a lovely way to keep a lost one close. I have decided to show this one before the photograph was set in place.

22 April 2013

Seashells and memories

So dear neglected blog... 2013 has been a difficult year for me so far, with not enough energy for all things, so the blog was left to rest for a while. But now, as the sun comes out to warm us after a long and cold winter, I feel warmed; feel a little of my zest is returning; am enjoying a burst of creativity that is making me feel alive.

Earlier in the year, I had some teeny tiny seashells cast in solid silver. They were just four different ones from a handful I found on Shell Beach in Dorset. Shell Beach is a National Trust Beach, between Studland and Poole Harbour. Every year, my parents and my boys have a week camping adventure in that gorgeous part of our country. However, if you recall, last Summer was not really much of a Summer. Cold rainy days, waterlogged ground, floods. Our usual little old fashioned campsite was partly closed, and mainly deserted. Only fools would brave camping in that weather. The day we walked on Shell Beach was typical of the Summer of 2012. Cardis and kagouls were required, and our feet, bare for paddling, were frozen from the wet sand, and the sea that hadn't had chance to warm up. The wind was wild and chilly, and we had to turn our heads to stop the fine pale sand from stinging our eyes, but we passed a happy hour wandering the tideline and finding the tiniest of shells.

I obviously knew I was going to make some jewellery with the castings, but I didn't know what I would make, and when the shells arrived back from being cast, they were left to one side, my spirit was broken for a while, due to some personal stuff, and I didn't have the inclination to work with them. My energy was needed elsewhere.

As I was working on some etching for commissions, I took the opportunity to etch some words I had scribbled in my sketch book ages ago. Here is one of the tags.

The day I took that photo, I had had a meeting with the owner of a lovely little local independent gift shop, who had admired my work and asked me to create some pieces for her shop. That boost, the sunshine, and digging the lovely aquamarines and moonstones out from my stash, helped my fog clear a little. A picture of what I wanted to do with the shells was beginning to emerge in my mind.

Squeezing working with the shells, between commissions that had been backing up, I started playing around and came up with these pieces.

The shells were beautiful enough, that they spoke for themselves. I love things on small scale, necklaces with tiny elements that move, and this, like nearly everything I design, was a necklace that I would truly enjoy wearing.

Finally, I used one of the tags, with aquamarines, and apatites, to make a necklace that quite simply is made for me. Perfect. (But difficult to photograph!)

...oh, and then today, there were some tiny stud earrings.

I'm still fizzing with some more ideas, and have some different tags etched too, so I'm not quite done yet, but it's been brilliant feeling inspired and alive. Designing and creating. And making a new little collection that I am really happy with.