From my London studio see how the jewellery pieces are made, the meticulous step by step process in the artistic journey. From initial mocking up of the design through to the colouring, fusing, firing, and careful finishing. Each step has to be finished to a high standard before the I can move onto the next in order to make sure the final pieces is ready to be included in a collection.
A number of specialist craft tools are used in making enamel jewellery, from hammers and punches to scribes, sifters and saws, as each piece is cut, shaped and fused or soldered.
First the designs for all of my pieces or commissions are sketched out on paper, coloured in with hues as close to the actual enamel colours as possible. This allows me to really bring the pieces to life on paper and make sure they are as close to what the finished piece will look like. This is key stage in the process and is the first thing I would do.
I then form the delicate Cloisonne wire, carefully curving and shaping each thin strand until the whole design is recreated in silver wire. This is done by laying the strands of wire over the sections of the sketch and 'tracing' along the different sections of the design using tools to help me shape and bend. It is a delicate process bending and shaping all of the wires by hand for any one design. Once all of the wires are completed the piece is ready for the next stage.
In most of the bases for my pieces I use the Champleve technique which involves cutting out the top design by hand 'fusing' it to a base using a specialist jeweller's torch. This silver fusing process ensures the pure silver pieces join together seamlessly to create the recessed base within which the Cloisonne design is going to be inlaid.
The base is then meticulously sanded down and again polished to a high standard to ensure the finished piece is going to be of a high quality.
After washing and preparing each of the enamel colours based on my initial design palette, I first hand-sift a counter enamel on the back of each piece and fire to balance the enamel that will be added onto the front, this can be up to three layers. At this stage we also like to add a 'secret' design element to the back as I think this really finishes the pieces off. A clear base is then also sifted onto the front and fired. Once cooled, I carefully inlay the Cloisonne wire carefully into the fired piece recess, and re-fire so the wires become 'encased' in the remelted enamel to create the 'cells' or cloisons ready to be filled with colour.
Using artist brushes I blend and shade the coloured enamel powders into each other layer by layer, adding depth or lightness by grading the colours and really bringing the designs to life.
As each layer is laid down, air dried to remove water and fired in a hot kiln. The process is repeated until the the enamel colours are flush with the tops of the cells ready to be sanded.
Sanding & Finishing
Once the layers of powdered enamel reach the top of the wires, I sand each one down by hand until the silver edges are clean of enamel and flush. It's not over yet! The piece is then polished by hand to return the silver to its lustre and the piece is fired one last time to return the enamel to a high gloss shine, the last step then, the piece is hung on a sterling silver chain ready to be worn.