Welcome to today’s post for our #meetthemaker month with Malvern jeweller, Carol James (AKA Silverfish). Carol’s gorgeous work has been a regular in our gallery for years and is so popular with all of our customers. Her background in archaeology plus her skills with silver mean that her jewellery is wonderfully unique, organic and so wearable. Read on to find out more …
1. Could you tell us a little bit about you, and how you came to start your business?
I live in a lovely spot on the sunny side of the Malvern Hills with my hubby and our dog, Alfie. My background is in archaeology, with a degree and masters in European Archaeology from Southampton Uni.
I literally fell into jewellery. After uni I ended up working in our family motor trade business, putting in stupid hours to keep on top of warranty claims and one days said to my sister ‘I just need to leave on time one day a week!’ She was starting an evening course and said ‘Why don’t you come?’ Great idea, ‘Yes’ I said, ‘What are you doing?’. ‘Jewellery’ she said. ‘Oh! ….’ my degree was in digging and hers in fine art but I said I would go so I did. I spent 5 years on recreational courses with a great bunch of people and lots of cake, completed an OCN qualification and nearly 20 years after that conversation here I am
2. How long have you been living in Malvern? How does where you work inspire you?
I have lived in Malvern all my life, apart from 4 years at Uni. I feel so lucky to live in this beautiful place and there’s nothing like popping out the front door for a walk across the fields and woods, listening to the birdies and checking out the spring flowers, or just wandering down the garden if I am running late to inspire me for the day ahead.
3. Where does your inspiration come from?
My designs fall into 3 categories – firstly, those inspired by the interplay of light and texture, using different surface finishes to catch the light and give a subtle sparkle. Then, there’s my rock art designs – I trained as an archaeologist and specialise in prehistoric rock art, particularly carvings, created by our ancestors thousands of years ago. This has taken me far and wide and wherever I have worked I look out for panels which I can bring in to my work. My third range is Travellers Tales – whether it be a walk in the woods or a far flung beach – I keep my eye out for nature’s little treasures, an unusual pebble, pretty corals or textured shells which I cast and bring into my designs.
4. When you are not creating, what do you do?
Well, if I am out and about it tends to be with the rock art. I run the Welsh Rock Art Organisation with a colleague, covering the whole of Wales looking for and verifying prehistoric carvings, also running field trips and excavations of prehistoric monuments for anyone who fancies it. I am passionate about food and travel and run a small food business, inspired by flavours from around the world and providing veggie and vegan catering and supper clubs locally. I love spending time in my garden, growing veg, herbs and plants to use in my foodie venture. Other than that I do a little bit of running, a lot of walking the dog and love to read a good book.
5. What’s your favourite current piece?
The rock art pieces all have special meaning to me and hold memories of fabulous places and lovely people but I think, at the moment, it’s got to be from the Travellers Tales range – the little silver pebbles and corals with textured loops. The long coral and loop drops are my go to earrings for an evening out and remind me of walking a sunny beach in Thailand with hubby where I picked up the little fragments of coral. I also love the Flora bud pieces, little loops textured with floral patterns.
6. What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
On a sunny morning it’s dragging myself out of the garden and into the studio. It goes against the grain to be inside on a glorious day but once I get going it’s fine. On the whole it’s all the background stuff, paperwork, accounts, social media, ugh! Taking my furry friend to work also has its challenges, it’s hard to use a blow torch with a dog hanging off your arm or whining as “this studio malarkey is a bit boring now, can’t we chase sticks?”!
7. If you had one piece of advice to give other makers, what would it be?
Love what you do!
8. Are there any particular artists or sculptors that inspire you?
Hmmm. I know little about modern artists, those that inspire me have all been dead for thousands of years and remain nameless! However, it is a privilege to be able to study their designs and pass on their work in my own way and to raise awareness of what was being created all that time ago and how precious it is.
9. Describe your work in 3 words!
The most difficult question as my work is quite diverse … Unusual, wearable, shiny?!
10. Without giving away any state secrets, what’s next on your design agenda?
I am hoping to finally develop the Travellers Tales range, to incorporate some pretty stones and red and yellow gold alongside the silver loops, pebbles, corals and shells. I am also heading up to Newcastle next month for the British Rock Art Group conference so hoping to see some new petroglyphs, who knows what that may bring.
We’re already looking forward to it!
… let us know what you think of Carol’s jewellery by leaving a comment below, and stay tuned for future posts on more of our wonderful artists.