Today we're joined by the wonderful Natalie from 'Jewellery By Eilatan'. We're really excited to share with you some of Natalie's one of a kind jewellery - we find out more about her body positivity and Black Lives Matter designs and find out the story and inspiration behind them. Plus Natalie also shares her experience of learning jewellery making and offers advice and guidance for those wanting to try this creative craft for themselves!
My venture into jewellery making was a bit of weird one! I’ve always dabbled in creative projects, I even tempted to do wire wrapping jewellery back when I was a young teenager (admittedly badly) but I started working as a Museum Technician 4 years ago, a role that basically cares/handles the objects whether they’re in storage, on display or moving to other venues. One role as a technician is to make mounts for the objects to support them whilst on display and I really wanted to get into that. Needing to be trained and have metalwork skills was an instant goal. This combined with being inspired by all the creatives in my department pushed me to take on a new hobby - therefore I booked myself into a jewellery course at my local adult’s education college and the passion grew from there.
I would describe my style as quirky, deep and organic
Finding inspiration is something that really comes and goes with me at the moment, I have periods where I have so many ideas I can’t concentrate and other times where nothing comes to mind at all.
My most creative period is definitely as I’m just drifting asleep! My bedroom is my haven where I surround myself with plants and art so I probably naturally draw inspiration from my environment. At the moment, I try and draw inspiration from my emotions or from nature. When I’m happy I’m much more drawn to hearts, dainty jewellery and bright gemstones but when I’m sad I’m drawn to skulls, dark gemstones and chunky jewellery. I like having personal stories behind my pieces and I think this really comes to light from the organic place my inspiration comes from.
The first piece of jewellery I made was a boring copper ring as at the beginning of my classes we just followed the teacher’s projects, but once I got in the flow of it I was continuously making simple gemstone rings, the first one I ever set was Tiger’s Eye which I still wear today!
I was repeatedly setting cabochons, every session and I never got bored. I felt like everyone else was getting bored just watching me try and reach perfection. But for me, that is the jewellery I love. I fall in love with every gemstone I come across and I just want to showcase them off as beautifully as I can.
Making my own jewellery has given me so much freedom with this. Before I struggled to find quality jewellery that wasn’t crazy expensive, mostly out of lack of knowledge. The work I was attracted to were always from markets and they always left my fingers green, tarnished too quickly and never fitted me properly. I never really knew what they were made up of. But now I can finally make what I love using quality materials, and gemstones that are for starters real, good quality and are unusual. And most importantly add my own quirky spin as I go along.
When I began on my jewellery venture I just relied on my classes to lead me the way. I brought a few books I’d look at, but they didn’t really grab my attention much. Now I’ve set up my own mini studio, and have been practising jewellery on my own I am much more dependent on various tools and resources.
I love watching videos and tutorials of people making various projects or testing out certain skills, I’ve joined various Facebook groups where people share their knowledge and ask questions and now I’m trying to build up a community through Instagram and connect with likeminded artists. I find talking to people so much more helpful, especially in feeling supported with queries.
I am very much a visual learner so to be able to see something and be able to go away and try it in my most valuable resource.
So, I have two sets of inspiration behind my body positivity design. The first set of inspiration has come from my own struggles with the view of my body, I’ve had this from as long as I remember as have so many people, watching social media bloom with body positivity has been so lovely to see and definitely makes you feel less alone therefore I wanted to do something that makes people feel like this.
For as long as jewellery has been around, it’s been a symbol of beauty and power and I want this to be passed down to my customer. When I wear my jewellery, I look at it and remember the feelings behind it and that message is enhanced therefore that’s something I hope to pass on to people.
My second inspiration comes from mum, especially with my Wonky Boob Pendant and Rings. She was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was a kid, and she’s simply my hero. She’s never faulted to be an amazing mother, even when overcoming her hardships. Thankfully she fought cancer, and instilled it into me how important it is to check your boobs and look after your body, so this is the second message behind my body positive jewellery and why I donate a portion to these proceeds to a breast cancer awareness charity. So many people don’t check themselves regularly, and it could save their lives, so I hope this works as a mini reminder.
My advice would be to just give it ago! Join Facebook groups or follow jewellers on Instagram, watch videos to see what the process is like and see the potential you could have. There are so many areas of jewellery making that are so different from one another such as wax carving to wire wrapping or soldering.
See what peeks your interest and go for it! Jewellery making isn’t for everyone, it’s a hard process and I’ve seen people get dejected easily so if you’re unsure and don’t want to make a commitment, look out for a day workshop (in person or online) there’s so many out there right now. You might discover you love it or you might just come away with a nice piece of jewellery!
Hard question! I’d have to say a Moss Agate, they’re just so unique with their individual patterns and I feel so connected to nature with them. They’re also always a blessing for me to set, which is always a win!
The Black Lives Matter fist necklaces are a personal favourite of mine. I never take it off and it brings me such a strong a message that I just feel completely connected with it. This necklace came about after the recent killing of George Floyd in America. Being a mixed race, Black Woman of Colour this murder/the circumstances behind it didn’t come as a shock to me but the media around it and people’s actions towards me had a deep emotional affect. I was very emotional; I was sad and I was angry, I needed to do something with it. It’s the first time I’ve ever put raw emotion into my work and used it as a type of ‘therapy’ but I couldn’t stand to do anything else.
So, I made a bronze cut out version of a fist and a black panther. Very simple. But I thought, if I’m struggling with this, I know my black friends are too. So, I made a bunch and sent them to my Black friends to let them know I was thinking of them and despite this we were still strong, beautiful people who are united. This gained a bit of traction and people wanted to buy them, so I started selling them with 50% of the profits going to a charity fighting racial justice within the UK. But these pendants were never meant to be replicated and sold, they were a nice gesture but they were also flimsy. I didn’t feel like they replicated my work well enough to be sold. So I came up with my new idea and carved the pendant out of wax and now it feels like me. It’s quality, it will last a lifetime. It’s strong and it’s powerful just like the message I want to put across.
I think the Fist is not only a symbol of Black Power but a symbol of unity, beauty, strength, power. This Fist will always be a message of Black Lives Matter, but I hope with the message on the back of the pendant “Know Your Power” applies to anyone going through hardships.
Wax carving is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I’ve been doing jewellery but I never had the chance to do a class. 2020 was the year I was planning to go to some classes and learn but unfortunately COVID-19 hit and made this even harder. But during the lockdown, I saw a company offering an online tutorial and a beginner’s kit and I thought why not! It wasn’t an extensive tutorial so I only learnt the very basics but it was fun and I found carving so peaceful.
Ever since then, I’ve practised and made mistakes, watched videos on the process and taking in knowledge from all the sources I can. I’m hoping in my next collection I will be able to expand on wax carvings and be able to apply all my new-found knowledge. As I said the online tutorial was very basic and didn’t stress on the importance of a smooth finish of the wax, therefore my top tip would be the better finish you achieve on your wax carving the better off you’ll be as you won’t have to sand them so much to get rid of any scratches and imperfections. It’ll save you a huge amount of time. And secondly, actively think about the weight and size of your wax carvings as when it’s casted into solid silver/gold it is going to be hefty and potentially very expensive.
Being an eco-conscious brand is so important to me. Therefore, the steps I currently take are buying my materials from reputable companies and ensuring my gemstones are sourced from suppliers who are responsible, ethical and are open with tracing their suppliers. I’m very picky who I buy any materials from as I want to ensure everything is as sustainable as it can be. I recycle all my metal and use it in my work to eradicate any waste. And I try to use the least harmful chemicals in my jewellery process as possible, where this is not possible I ensure I remove the contents in the way I am advised to not harm the environment. Furthermore, I’m trying to make my packaging as sustainable as I can. I’m currently re-using any envelopes and bubble wrap from parcels I receive personally or with materials in. In addition to this my business cards, thank you cards, and jewellery holder cards are all made from recycled materials and my tissue paper, tape on the outside of my packages and stickers are completely recyclable. I am looking for ways I can increase this even more throughout my business and being as eco-conscious as possible.
I recently upgraded my studio from a makeshift set up in my bedroom to a more “serious” set up in my living room. Most of the time it’s an absolute mess but everything has its place and it’s all been thoughtfully placed. I’ve just invested in all new equipment, such as a proper jewellers bench, a polishing tumbler, vices, etc and I feel renewed in my process and like I can actually do things properly for a change! It’s a humble little space but it works for me. I have a good place for my cup of tea and a nice print up saying ‘You’re doing amazing” and that’s all I need to get me through.
I’d love to master setting stones. There are so many settings I haven’t got around to even attempting yet that’s on my to-do list.
I just love precious and semi-precious stones so much, I’m naturally attracted to jewellery containing them, therefore I’d love to be able to create more of these and really take in and appreciate all my materials whilst doing so.
My favourite thing about using liver of sulphur to create patina on my work is all the extra detail it brings up. I love how it gets in little grooves and shows up organic details you may have missed or would have been barely noticeable and I believe it just makes everything stand out so much more.
For me also, it personally gives an edge to my jewellery, it roughens it up a little which I feel like reflects me as a person.
Alligator tape without a doubt, I’m always sporting a perfect mani with long nails so this is an actual life-saver for me.
Literally my go-to as I don’t rate the other ones I’ve attempted to use.
Of course, it has to be your beautiful array of gemstones, the quality is great, your range is amazing and I’m never disappointed!