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Capturing lace: from perishable fabric to enduring jewellery

Posted in Jewellery, Personal stories/journeys/interviews/tutors’ stories and Textiles & needlework.

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Jewellery maker, tutor and designer Rose Ellen Cobb on her love of lace and the regular workshops she teaches from her jewellery studio in Sheffield.

 

I started learning to make jewellery in my early thirties on a weekend course, initially as a hobby but with the hope of being able to turn it into a business. I was working as an Interior Designer at the time for an architectural practice in London. 

As soon as I started the jewellery course, I realised what was missing in my work – using my hands and working directly with materials.

The design process for me is much more satisfying and successful when I can try out my ideas using my hands; actually producing something. My jewellery designs are driven by the processes and materials I am using rather than being inspired by the natural world, as many artists are. By experimenting with a material and exploring its properties you learn what you can and can’t do, which then feeds back into the design. I tend to start with an idea roughly sketched out, I make it, which more often than not doesn’t turn out quite the way I’d imagined, but this gives me more ideas and eventually this cyclical process produces a design which far exceeds my original idea.

Both slip casting and lost wax casting lend themselves to capturing fine detail and this has allowed me to explore the idea of transforming textures, taken from perishable fabrics such as lace, into enduring pieces of jewellery. 

Rose in her Sheffield based studio

 

 

Much of my current body of work is based around casting, both in porcelain and precious metals, and I have spent a lot of time exploring each of these processes and materials.

Lace, being beautiful in its own right, is one of my favourite textures to use.

By making moulds from it and casting in porcelain or metal it is transformed into a new piece of jewellery, giving fresh perspective on the familiar. I love the combination of a contemporary piece which contains a sense of history within.

I like the idea of holding something in your hands which someone has painstakingly made. I even like machine made lace for a similar reason. It amazes me that someone has been able to design and build a machine which can make something so delicate and beautiful.

Exploring textile texture in jewellery

 

 

As well as designing and making my own jewellery range to sell I now also teach jewellery making as a way of sharing my passion. I have surprised myself at just how much I enjoy teaching and imparting my knowledge. The best part is seeing just how pleased people are with themselves when they’ve finished their piece of jewellery and knowing they will wear it with pride.

You can find details of Rose’s workshops here or browse jewellery workshops around the UK.

Interested in lace making? Courses are also available in this specialist and ancient craft.

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