In Cornwall, we are so lucky to have beautiful sandy beaches, rugged cliffs and landscapes to help inspire us! Sarah Drew is a jewellery maker based in St Austell, creating sustainable, eclectic designs using found objects such as driftwood, sea glass, plastic and slate pebbles on Cornish beaches.
Sarah can be found sea swimming, beach-combing and walking along the Cornish coastline, picking up treasures on her way. When Sarah's not busy making her own designs, she's helping others fall in love with the craft too! Providing jewellery making workshops in her St Austell studio and across Cornwall, to other creatives willing to turn their found objects into wonderful pieces of handmade jewellery.
Taking care of our environment is so important, and it's brilliant to see a jeweller taking action and getting others involved in making a difference. Find out more about Sarah and her jewellery workshops in Cornwall and how you can get involved below.
Looking for jewellery making supplies in Cornwall? You can get everything you need online right here with Kernowcraft - from gemstones, metal and wire, charms, beading threads to jewellery tools! Once you've attended a workshop in Cornwall, you'll be itching it get making at home.
Necklace made from driftwood, recycled objects and beads
I started making jewellery when I was 14: I had a jewellery business with my friend Ben and we used to sell earrings from an old cassette case at school to teachers, like Del-boy. I kept making jewellery in my spare time through college and uni, big fimo acid jazz daisies, bright 60s style enamelling, re-made jumble sale brooches.
I got my first jewellery break whilst travelling around Australia when some cool Sydney boutiques agreed to stock my deco beaded necklaces. That gave me the confidence to set up full time when I returned home, making mostly bridal headdresses and jewellery at first. I got into using found materials and eco-silver jewellery when I moved down to Cornwall 16 years ago.
Being outside! We're so lucky to live in a place where you can step into natural surroundings so easily. I love walking the dogs in our local woods, collecting twigs and rust, I love swimming in the sea and picking up sea-glass on the way out: I think most makers and artists living in Cornwall can't help but be inextricably linked to the land, sea and skies. We're also so lucky to have a supportive network of other designer/makers who are properly friendly and help each other out.
I try and encourage people to be creative and find their own way of doing things: I can give them shortcuts and pointers, but I think it's important to make things in your own style, that you'd like to wear. And it's fine to make mistakes: that's how I learnt, a lot of trial and error!
The brilliant thing about making jewellery (especially my style of jewellery) is that you can't really completely mess up. It just might not go 100% as planned but then you can go with the flow and make something a bit different. Or just melt it down into a blob moon pendant!
In my own sea-view studio at St Austell College, at Bedruthan Hotel, at Helen Round's studio at Mount Edcumb and at West Dean in Chichester.
Yep, I normally check beforehand and start from scratch: if I have more experienced makers coming I plan a few extra projects for them so they're not bored.
Bezel set sea glass ring and granulated ring.
It's become more and more apparent over the last few years how imperative it is that we all make changes to tackle the climate emergency.
As an individual maker it's actually not that difficult for me to run my business sustainably, it's a bit of a no-brainer to use eco-silver for instance. It's the same silver content as sterling (fractionally more actually) but made from recycled jewellery, cutlery and IT component parts so it means I'm not supporting damaging metal mines abroad.
Similarly, by setting sea-glass or opals from Australia (that are mined by a couple in Queensland) I know I'm not supporting unsafe working practices or modern slavery which is rife in many stone mines. I suppose it's the idea of voting with your wallet: by rejecting materials from harmful sources you are hopefully reducing the market for them. And of course the beach plastic and ghostnet I collect for my statement jewellery is not only contributing to cleaning local beaches, it often starts conversations about environmental issues, hopefully motivating more people to make changes.
Boulder opal bangle.
Bit of a tricky question: I love it when people think they won't be able to do it, then end up making something they're really pleased with.
They often say, "I'm rubbish at drawing" or "I'm really clumsy" or "I'm not creative" so I say " well, we're not drawing, we're making jewellery" and negative comments about yourself are absolutely not allowed in my workshops.
It was lovely a few years ago when someone I'd taught in an evening class came back to St Austell and told me I'd helped her get into the London College of Fashion.
I think it can be more flexible and fluid: there's no exam either which takes the pressure off both the teacher and the student. You can be more creative and react to what the group wants to do, try things out and have a bit of a 'play'. They're also more specific so people know they're going to leave with a finished piece of jewellery they can wear straight away.
Recycled plastic & beaded necklace.
It was a practical solution to working really when my kids were little: I could go out in the evening or at the weekends when my husband could look after my lads and work. And I've always enjoyed lunch out, so I made sure I planned them at beautiful hotels with delicious food such as the Scarlet, Bedruthan and Fowey Hall Hotel :-)
I really enjoy teaching though: it's a 2 way thing too and in workshops we often try out new ideas and give each other feedback. It's a good way of keeping my own work fresh as well as being satisfying to help other people enjoy making jewellery too.
I think you just have to take your time, things aren't always really obvious. And don't have too strict an idea what you're looking for.
Different beaches are better for some materials than others, so don't get fed up if you can't find any sea-glass on the north coast for example. You tend to find more after a storm or strong tide, look along the tide-line where the sea dumps it load. Talk to people, follow like-minded collectors on Instagram, most people are happy to share information about beaches to try.
Eco silver sea glass & net bracelets.
It's probably a good idea to message or call the tutor and talk to them about what you're worried about as well as check the workshop is the right one for you.
Also, if there's a specific worry or problem the tutor can prepare for that too so you don't feel awkward on the day.
Most people who come on my workshops come on their own and don't know anybody: they're normally really friendly and inclusive with people wanting to chat, and relax and help each other so I'd say there's nothing to be nervous about - it's for you and it's supposed to be fun.
I've just booked some new dates in for Autumn winter on my Facebook page i love handmade things. You can message me directly on there to check anything.
I'll be updating my website www.sarahdrew.com with them too. Also, if you want to get a group of friends together of 6 or more we can sort out a date to suit you.
Photo credit: Nomads Clothing