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Meet local maker Louise Mary
Louise Mary believes in the importance of hand-crafted jewellery and this passion shines through in every piece she creates. Many of Louise’s elegant designs combine the beauty of silver and gold with the textures and forms of nature, creating something clean, simple, and eye-catching in the process. With most materials sourced in the Jewellery Quarter, and even hallmarked at the renowned Birmingham Assay Office, you’re guaranteed style and quality with every stunning piece.
What first fuelled your passion to make / create your designs / product?
I have always loved making things, and settled on jewellery as my career path during my Art Foundation course. I found I was naturally drawn to working in a high level of detail on a small scale, and the more techniques I learnt, the more excited I felt about the possibilities of what I could create in silver. I just love working at my jewellery bench, the day just flies by.
Tell us about the origins of your business.
I set up as an independent maker straight from graduating with a degree in Metalwork and Jewellery in Sheffield in 2005. For six years I had a studio in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, and now I work from my home studio near Burton on Trent, where it is very easy to pop into the Quarter for supplies when I need to.
What’s your motto?
I’m not sure I have a motto! But I believe in keeping hand craft skills alive, and sharing skills has become a really important part of my working mission.
How would you describe your designs / products?
My designs are inspired by nature, and I even use leaves to create texture on silver. I love natural forms as inspiration for my designs. I’ve always got some new ideas in mind for future collections, so my designs continue to evolve.
What was the first success / landmark moment for your designs / product range?
In my first year as a silversmith, I won a Silver Award at the Goldsmiths Design and Craftmanship Awards, it was such a wonderful surprise, and I was absolutely delighted.
Tell us about your materials - where do you source your materials from?I love working in silver and gold, and often incorporate gemstones and pearls into my designs. I source most of my materials from the suppliers in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter. I also have my work hallmarked at the Birmingham Assay Office.
As well as working with metals which I source from suppliers, I am finding clients are becoming really interested in re-modelling sentimental jewellery too, taking pieces of family jewellery passed down to them and melting down the gold and re-setting the gemstones into a design of their own personal style.
Tell us about your making process?
My specialist technique is called ‘Fold Forming’ and I have written a book about this technique for jewellers and metalsmiths. It is where metal sheet is folded, then the folds are compressed or stretched, and then opened again, creating wonderful organic forms which appear to have grown from the metal.
Have you ever had any interesting commissions?
I have many interesting commissions over the years. One of which was to create a bespoke marmalade spoon, and I imitated the surface of orange peel on the spoon bowl by using a hammered texture. I also run courses for people to make their pieces themselves under my guidance, I regularly host couples making their own wedding rings for example.
Do you have a favourite of the Birmingham museums? If so, why?
The Museum of The Jewellery Quarter is my favourite Birmingham Museum. The tour is fascinating, but they have also been a wonderful support to me as a maker for many years now. As well as showcasing my jewellery for sale in their shop, I have run lots of fun workshops for them including a community based project supporting people suffering with mental health difficulties.
And finally, a tourist arrives in Birmingham for the first time ever, where do you take them?
The area I know best is the Jewellery Quarter, so I would have to take them there, and as well as the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter we would have to take a trip to the Pen Museum too.