Part of the joy for me of working with acrylic in my jewellery is the challenge of how to join components in a pleasing and simple way. I avoid complicated fittings and joins that obstruct the flow and ease of a piece of jewellery. A necklace can consist of components strung continuously onto a necklet or hung from a chain. This year I wanted to make some bolder statement necklaces that are also easy and comfortable to wear every day, and to move away from the traditional strung beads concept.
In January I looked through pieces made on my degree course, which inspired me to recapture the spirit of fun and play in my new designs. I also browsed the book ‘The American Dream: Pop to Present’ from the British Museum exhibition of the same name, where my jewellery was sold in the exhibition gift shop. Heavily featuring Jim Dine, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, I loved the energy, composition, and colour of the prints.
My ‘Graffiti’ necklace, designed in 2016 uses horizontal acrylic components hung from two black nylon covered stainless steel cables, and I wanted to explore this method further. I can combine shapes to make larger pieces despite the constraints of drill hole length in acrylic.
I laser cut some geometric shaped components…semi-circle, circle, rectangle, and triangle which I hand etched and dyed with my signature black lines in various sizes. I had great fun combining these with smaller coloured acrylic circle and rectangles in pleasingly asymmetric ‘balanced’ compositions.
I have been delighted by comments of visitors to Craft Fairs where I have exhibited them this year likening them to Mondrian paintings and mini artworks.
Well it has been a very strange and unusual year so far! I January and February as usual I had my
'recovery' post Christmas period, and by mid March had pretty much re stocked all the galleries I supply with new work, and was sorting out applying to 2020 craft fairs and shows. Then of course it became clear that the Corona virus pandemic was very serious, and we went into lockdown.
Like a lot of people not in Key Worker jobs, it felt like everything stopped and gone on hold, and I hunkered down with my partner and two daughters at home. We spent most of the next two months sorting out and painting our daughters bedrooms, discovering walks in our local area and baking banana bread.
There are 13 makers working at Rosehill Workshop, and we agreed that only one person could be there at a time, so I limited myself to only going in when I had an order to dispatch.
Motivation to get making again came in April when I was asked to do a 'stories takeover' on the 7dials art instagram account, as one of the makers who would have been taking part in the May Brighton Festival Artists Open Houses trail, had it not been cancelled. I asked my daughters for help, and you can see the results by clicking the link to youtube here.
Then Lovedazzle ,the contemporary jewellery selling website contacted their makers about a promotion they were doing in May, and that kick started me to get back in the workshop and experiment with some new designs. We now had a part time workshop rota of small groups of makers, and so I created my 'Shard' range. This was inspired by wanting to be able to cut out my shapes myself on my bandsaw rather than ordering laser cutting, and a desire to make each piece unique. I like the balance of shapes being non symetrical, but still following a flow and pleasing to the eye. Click here to see the earrings in my website shop and here for the necklace.
'Made Makers'June 23-25 was the first online craft fair I took part in, it prompted me to upload individual unique items of jewellery to my website shop, you can see a film of my 'home display' here.
Looking forward, I will be taking part in the Great Northern Contemporary Online Craft Fair July 25-31.
Dazzle are presenting their anmazing jewellery selections at Dovecote in Edinburgh August 22 to September 12.
As things stand I will be at three 'real life' craft fairs in November, Made London 5-8 November, and Made Brighton 27-28 November and the Contemporary Craft Festival Bath 28-29 November. I should be able to confirm these in August, if unable to take place in real life they will be going online.
So we are all getting used to the 'new normal', adapting and surviving. I have been posting more on instagram and facebook, and enjoying engaging with customers and other makers that way as we can't see each other at craft fairs. I am pleased to hear that most of the galleries I supply are slowly re opening, do take a look at my Outlets page and visit any galleries that are near you, like all small businesses they need our support.
Thanks for reading, I hope everybody is keeping safe and well, Sarah
'Shard' earrings and necklace
Over the autumn and winter I have been busy designing some new jewellery which has resulted in my new Construction and Block ranges. I always love the opportunity to update my collection and taking my jewellery in new directions, but equally looking back at some of my old work and seeing what I can revisit; my Block pieces take inspiration from some older designs with the clear centre and coloured edge. The Construction jewellery takes ideas from something that has always been a visual inspiration to me - modern architecture and building sites. While not immediately appealing, urban construction utilises many interesting colours and shapes which I always find strangely interesting to look at out of train windows! I hope you enjoy reading about and browsing the new products.
My new Construction range of acrylic jewellery is inspired by the urban built environment: the frequent sight of building sites both in my hometown of Brighton and from trains into London. A palette of tinted greys, neutrals and glass colour is influenced by high-rise architecture, highlighted by flashes of bright orange, red and blue like warning lights and safety equipment. The shapes are individually cut using a bandsaw, making each piece unique and subtly asymmetrical. The edges are then sanded and dyed black giving a bold dark outline to each component, adding a dramatic touch.
I wanted to play with cutting individual wedge shapes in acrylic to make a range of jewellery where each piece is unique. For this I have used 8mm thick clear acrylic, with matte sanded edges which I dye a range of strong colours. I enjoy the bold contrast between the ‘invisible’ centre and the wide coloured outlines, meaning the jewellery seems to appear and disappear as the wearer moves.
I look forward to seeing what 2020 brings in terms of new jewellery as I experiment with more techniques, colours and shapes.
Thank you for reading!
Made Canary Wharf Contemporary Craft and Design Fair, was held in March 2017 at Canada Square in the heart of London's Financial District, surrounded by looming steel and glass tower blacks. It was a fascinating place to hang out for a few days and meet new customers who may not have seen my work before, plus lots of regulars drawn by the consistently high quality of exhibitors selected by organisers Tutton and Young.
Some insight into how my pieces are made...
.Bangles are cut from tube on a band saw, then sanded and polished.
Components for my pieces are laser cut, then I texture, dye, polish and drill.
I tend to make in small batches, these graffiti earrings on my bench have just had the ear wires glued in place.
For the past three years, five jewellers from Rose Hill workshops have taken a group stand at the highly regarded contemporary craft fair Made London at 1 Marylebone .
This year it is October 22nd-25th. The show is an exciting mix of ceramics, jewellery, glass, textiles and wood. Take a look at www.madelondon.org for more.
I have made things ever since I can remember... tiny furniture from cardboard, miniature handbags from sweet wrappers, dolls clothes etc., before moving on to costumes for school productions and clothes for myself. I considered studying to be a theatre designer or architect, but wanted to be involved in 'hands on' making.
I attended a Foundation Art course at Camberwell school of Art in 1987/8, and a
BA(hons) at Brighton Polytechnic in Wood, Metal, Ceramics and Plastics between
1988-1991 which involved making anything out of those four materials.
In the second year of my degree, my interest was sparked by a 'mass production' project: I made a series of brooches from oxidised and corrugated tin cans. From then on I was hooked on jewellery, and discovered the endless possibilities of dying acrylic... masking (preventing dye from reaching certain areas by using masking tape, copydex glue or elastic bands), sand blasting and multiple layering of colours to create jewel like effects.
Rose Hill Workshop has been my base since since 1994. There are currently eleven members, and it is a very friendly supportive working environment.
I am drawn to interesting textures, colours and patterns in ceramics, textiles, paintings, architecture and in nature. Anything with a slightly 1950's 'Festival of Britain' feel gets my attention. I like the simple, light and joyful shapes in subtle colours.
With all my designs strive to use acrylic in an innovative and personal way, finding new ways to give a potentially cold, mass produced material a precious hand worked feel. I aim to make my jewellery very wearable, and as affordable as possible.
I love working in clear acrylic which I texture and dye. Some of my designs also use opal white or charcoal grey coloured acrylic for contrast. I use mainly silver findings, (catches, ear hooks, etc.) and some nylon covered stainless steel cable as necklets.
A lot of my time is spent at the polishing wheel, and also use a band saw, pillar drill and electric belt sander. I use a small disc attachment on a hand held mini drill to score lines in the acrylic. My favourite tool is probably the hotplate I use to dye my pieces, as that is where the 'magic' of the colouring process happens. Soldering (joining silver pieces using a hand held torch) and assembling is all done at my jewellers bench.
Some shapes I cut myself; others I draw on the computer and get laser cut by a specialist company.
My aim is to continue developing my practice, making unique jewellery that people love and want to wear. I have enjoyed getting to know my customers as I have been doing more craft fairs and direct sales in the last couple of years.
My jewellery is sold mainly in the UK in craft galleries, independent jewellery shops and gift shops. Also through my own website www.sarahpackington.com, on www.lovedazzle.com and at craft fairs.
Tate Modern have been stocking my jewellery in their gift shop since 2010, and I was delighted when they ordered a special collection to be sold at the ‘Matisse Cut Outs’ exhibition in 2014.
For more information on acrylic jewellery this book is very useful:
'Precious Jewellery from Plastics: Methods and Techniques (Design and Make)’ by Chris Bond