Meet The Maker : Nick Hubbard – Handmade Jewellery

Nick Hubbard jewellery - meet the maker interview

Nick Hubbard’s work has been a best-seller at iapetus for many years. That’s because it’s among the most original, creative and quirky jewellery you can find. Nick’s work is amazing in its detail and intricacy; a figurative collection of oxidised silver pieces and charms bearing words and messages. Many lockets, brooches and rings have moving parts and small doors that open to reveal fine gold detail. It’s no wonder that these pieces have such a following of devoted fans.

We were so saddened to hear of Nick Hubbard’s untimely death in August 2013. Nick has been one of our most popular artists for many years, and our customers have always had a great affection for his beautiful jewellery. His work continues, with his family and apprentices carrying on the designs we have all grown to love. They are also launching new collections based on the many sketches and notes Nick worked on over the years. For our last #meetthemaker interview this month, we caught up with one of Nick’s daughters, Philippa – read on to find out more!

Interview with the Brick & Bean team

1. Could you tell us a little bit about you, and how you came to start your business?

I’m Nick’s daughter Philippa and our little business has been running since my father Nick (Brick) and mum Jean (Bean) graduated from Birmingham School of Jewellery over 40 years ago! After working as a silversmith making models for businesses in Birmingham’s historic jewellery quarter, Nick designed and made his first jewellery collection in the early 1990s. Making jewellery and small sculptural pieces in silver allowed him to pursue his love of miniaturisation and incorporate found objects, which were a feature of his early work. From the beginning, he was making pieces combining gold, silver and semi precious stones with the finest of detail and hand engraved words.

Nick Hubbard Jewellery has always been a family affair. My mum Jean has played an important role in the design and making of our pieces from the beginning and continues to today. My sister and I were keen to get involved from an early age, from advising on designs to helping in the workshop and picking titles for our jewellery. Liz, my sister, is still proud of her ‘Bad Hare Day’ title for such a stunning pendant.

Today, we continue without our wonderful Nick. After years of working in academia and academic publishing, I now run our little business with my mum Jean, sister Liz and amazing jewellers and friends, Jenni and Helen. We continue to make many of Nick’s classic designs and newly designed pieces that fit with his ethos that jewellery can offer comfort and joy as well as being beautiful.

2. How long have you been living in Staffordshire? How does where you work inspire you?

Mum and Dad met at college in Birmingham and settled in Staffordshire. I have lived in various different places for university and work but was so happy to return to Staffordshire in 2015. Known as ‘The Creative County’, Staffordshire has such a rich, creative history including of course our famous jewellery quarter and fabulous potteries, both of which are hugely inspiring. As well as being surrounded by aspects of our industrial past, the county also has stunning countryside. Nick loved the quiet of the countryside, gardening and nature and those have all inspired his work in different ways.

3. Where does your inspiration come from?

Nick was inspired by everything from pop music, art and literature, to nature, his family and dogs. He was a passionate drawer and has left a vast repository of artworks and sketches to inspire us.

Our recent designs celebrate the things Nick held dear: family, friends, nature, literature, storytelling and canine companions! Many of Nick’s pieces were designed to spread love and affection and some of our recent designs are highly sentimental, which I think reflects the loss of someone so special and the role jewellery plays in celebrating and commemorating life and relationships.

4. When you are not creating, what do you do?

We are a small team with young families so life is busy busy! Mum and I share a passion for old things so we take any opportunity we get to visit antiques fairs and charity/junk shops together. We both shared the same love of interesting miniature objects as Dad did and I do so miss showing him my little finds and seeing what gems he had uncovered.

I love connecting second hand objects to their past use and meaning and thinking about the journey these pieces have been on. I feel the same excitement for the new pieces we make now. As we carefully handcraft our jewellery ready for new homes, I often think of who the new owners will be and the journeys our pieces will go on. I am kind of obsessed with ‘things’ and their lifecycles, I could never be a minimalist!

5. What’s your favourite current piece?

Ah, so many for different reasons! Our Magical Hare and Hare and Moonstone pieces always feel very special. Both Nick and his mum loved hares and the magic and wonder they represent.

Our Alice in Wonderland collection also means such a lot to me. Dad was inspired by Alice from the very beginning and she featured in his earliest collections. I am so proud of our talented little team for building on this collection. I also love other recent pieces incorporating rose gold such as Close to my Heart bracelet and Forever locket, which speak to those special relationships that make life so much brighter.

6. What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

It gets quite complex! Nick was a perfectionist and loved detail so lots of our pieces involve multiple components that amounts to lots of making, lots of soldering and lots of finishing/polishing!

7. If you had one piece of advice to give other makers, what would it be?

Find a look that works with your personal aesthetic and a style of making that suits your skill set and make that your defining feature. Make pieces that speak to you, rather than the latest trend or what other people are doing.

8. Are there any particular artists or sculptors that inspire you?

Growing up, our house was full of art images and cabinets of interesting objects. A lot of it was modern and pop art inspired, prints by Andy Warhol, Peter Blake and Eduardo Paolozzi for example. This all inspired Dad’s work. But at the same time he could be inspired by landscapes and religious art. I became hugely interested in the eighteenth century and latterly Dad and I shared a love of eighteenth-century engravings and woodcuts.

We loved the detail of Thomas Bewick’s work and his passion for nature’s exquisite beauty.

9. Describe your work in 3 words!

Beautiful, whimsical, heartfelt.

10. Without giving away any state secrets, what’s next on your design agenda?

We’re currently working on extending our Magical Hare range and our collection of silver charms.

Let us know what you think of Nick’s work, and your thoughts over the Meet The Maker month by leaving a comment below or dropping us a message via our social media pages or emailing us at hello@iapetus.co.uk.

We hope you have enjoyed learning more about artists as much as we have and stay tuned we us to see what we’re up to next!