New Stockist: John Lewis Birmingham

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This week sees the opening of the new John Lewis store in central Birmingham, right above the remodeled New Street Station and Grand Central shopping centre.

It’s not normally the kind of thing that I’d blog about (despite the architectural interest of the building) but John Lewis have done something pretty special with this store. Working in conjunction with local business groups they’ve set aside space in the Jewellery Department for a Jewellery Quarter concession of sorts, featuring the work of six Jewellery Quarter makers.

I was selected to take part earlier in the year and have had to keep pretty quiet about it until now but, with the store finished and opening tomorrow here are a few images from last night’s preview:

They’ll be selling my Flotsam and Estuary ranges, from now until after Christmas.

Exploring: Perrott’s Folly

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Last week, as part of the Hidden Spaces project (in conjunction with Two Towers Brewery), I got to go along to explore the inside of one of the city’s seldom seen historic buildings: Perrott’s Folly.

Originally built in 1758 it once stood in a country hunting park but now overlooks a mixture of Victorian and 20th century housing, within sight of Edgbaston reservoir. It’s a slightly strange sight, huddled on a suburban street but the crumbling interior still manages to evoke a sense of past grandeur.

Here’s what I saw:

Exploring: What I learned in the National Museum of Scotland

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The National Museum of Scotland, set in the heart of Edinburgh, is a veritable treasure trove of interesting objects and specimens from around the world.

Naional Museum of Scotland 2 copyHere’s what I learned when I visited last week:

– Silver, as a naturally occurring mineral, can grow into beautiful leafy dendritic crystal structures and coiling, wiry masses like this:

silver wire– In 1843 it was acceptable to ask Whalers to bring you back bone samples for your collections. But you had to remember to tell them not to carve things on them during the long voyage home:

Whale Jaw Bone with Scrimshaw, National Museum of Scotland– Birmingham was home to one of the country’s only specialists in lighthouse light construction: glassmakers Chance & Co

– The Museum houses a large collection of the internal workings from Lighthouses, and companies like Chance and Co made their construction into an art form:

ImageGen– The Flapjack Octopus is incredibly cute.

Commission: Penstemon Pendant

I just recently sent this freshly finished commission out to a customer, who requested it as a 40th Wedding Anniversary gift.

Penstemon Pendant Commission 10 Becca Williams Jewellery

His wife is particularly fond of penstemons – a tall distinctive plant with these bright, trumpet shaped flowers, a little like a fox glove. I started looking at the shape of the plant and flowers, then drew up a selection of designs to chose from, going for a bold, graphic interpretation of the plant:

Penstemon Pendant 1 Becca Williams Jewellery

My customer settled on the full silhouette of the plant – which was a lot of fun to delicately saw out and polish! The interior is gold plated, like my Estuary series, which adds a lovely contrast to it and the back is subtly engraved, above the hallmark, with the customers wedding and anniversary date:

I am assured that it was very well received and, now that their anniversary has passed, I can share the pictures without risk of spoiling the surprise!

The Standard Works – Jewellery Quarter

13 Standard Works Jewellery Quarter 2014 Becca Williams sm

Built in 1879 the old Standard Works building dominates a large stretch of Vittoria Street, on the far edge of the Quarter, and has long been one of my favourite buildings in the area. Disappointingly derelict for the best part of two decades it has thus far avoided all attempts to turn it into residential property, or to resurrect it for industrial use – until it was finally sold, just a few weeks ago, to the Ruskin Mill Trust, a further education organisation for young people with learning and emotional difficulties.

With plans to build specialist teaching rooms, a theatrical space and even it’s own artisan bakery the team behind the conversion of the space are ambitious – with an eye to fit the project into the community and recall some of the buildings’ past with the inclusion of jewellery education workshops in the scheme.

So, last weekend, the people behind the project allowed a bunch of curious locals with cameras into the building to get a sense of what the project is about and have a tour of this remarkable building.

 

Here’s what I saw:

Centrepiece 20th Nov – 23rd Dec 2013

posted in: Jewellery 0

Centrepiece 2013 opens at Symphony Hall this Thursday with 28 local designer makers  selling their work in the run up to Christmas.

Centrepiece Logo

The show will be open from 10am – 10pm everyday and is always staffed by the designers themselves, here’s a selection of what will be available (to help you out with your Christmas gift buying … )

Centrepiece 2012

posted in: Events, exhibition 1

Today I set my work up at Birmingham’s annual selling exhibition of contemporary jewellery and silverware. Centrepiece, now in it’s 15th year is a showcase for some of the best makers in the Jewellery Quarter and well worth a visit (though I say so myself …)

This year some new and guest designers have joined the show bringing in ideas about ethical gold, recycled work and some inventive use of new technologies. Here are a few of the highlights:

and a sneaky peak at what’s in my cabinet:

The show is open from Thursday 15th November until Sunday 23rd December from 10.30am – 8.30pm (or later) everyday and is staffed by the designers – so you just might be buying work straight from the hands that made it!

 

Wednesday, finishing work and opening Centrepiece 2010

Wednesday was an extraordinarily productive day.

Not only did I get to work on some new ideas that have been kicking around my head for a while:

Pebble Brooch Experiment

but I finally got my first set of snowflakes finished and up for sale too. These have been a bit of a nightmare, porous castings meant that the resin that fills them seeped out as is was setting, causing quite a mess and a lot of extra cleaning up. I’m not sure what went wrong in the casting process (I need to go and consult with my caster) but tiny holes throughout the silver are never good. Fortunately the initial leakage seems to have plugged the holes in them and the second layer of resin went on just fine:

Snowflake Pendants

They look lovely now that they’re all clean again. I’m currently sporting a purple one and once I finish cleaning the rest I’ll get them up in the Folksy shop. The ones I have sanded and polished are in the 2010 Centrepiece Selling Exhibition which officially opened on Wednesday night too. It’s being hosted by Symphony Hall and features over 30 designer makers form in and around the Quarter. It’ll be open until the 23rd of December so if you;re heading into the city for the German Market it’s well worth stopping by us too!

Centrepiece Private View gets underway