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Mixed metals, textures, and being inspired by the outdoors with Lucy Spink Jewellery

Today, we're delighted to have Lucy, the founder of Lucy Spink Jewellery, with us to talk about her stunning nature-inspired creations. Lucy employs fascinating techniques such as texturing, etching and metal mixing. We'll delve into Lucy's journey, her sources of inspiration, and her future aspirations.

Hi Lucy, we absolutely love your beautiful jewellery designs. How did you discover the world of jewellery making and what drew you to it the most?

Thank you. I became aware of jewellery as a craft when I went to art school to study fine art photography. I nearly changed direction, but photography was my real passion back then, and I have used it throughout most of my life. I now do most of my product photography myself. Jewellery brings together creativity and technical knowledge, which is what I loved about fine art photography.

Tell us about your experience of creating a brand for your jewellery business.

My brand grew very organically. I didn’t have a lightbulb moment or spend a great deal of money on designing the brand; I didn’t have a budget to do that. I learned that storytelling is really positive, allowing your customers to get to know who the person behind the craft is. When customers can identify with you, you become more than just another jeweller. Your work becomes an aspiration, and people connect with it in a much more genuine way.

Do you work on your business part time or full time?

It is my full-time job, that said, when work is slower, I take the time to step away and do other things I love. Running your own business can be all consuming as you try to keep all the elements of it running concurrently.

 "When customers can identify with you, you become more than just another jeweller, your work becomes an aspiration and people connect with it in a much more genuine way."

What resources did you use to learn jewellery making?

I did night classes at Truro College with Victoria Walker and Rebeca Walklett initially. They gave me a great skill foundation and allowed me to go on and develop. I lived in Trinidad for a few years and met a jeweller called Bruce Moutett, who kindly taught me all kinds of manufacturing skills at his workshop in Port of Spain. Books and Youtube are an amazing resource as well, though I definitely prefer books!

What advice would you give to jewellers struggling to come up with new ideas?

Research. Read, draw, talk to people about your work for their input, look at other jewellers and see how they use shapes and textures. Don’t just look to jewellers, though; sculptors are an amazing resource too, I think jewellery is often just a small sculpture you can carry on your body.

How did you find your own style and what advice would you give those trying to find their own?

This can be really tough as there are so many great designs already out there. I looked to the things I love—landscape and the tiny details I see when I am walking—and then just kept playing and refining my style until I found something that felt right and had its own voice.

By finding your own style and taking inspiration from things or places that you feel passionately about, you will imbue your work with an honesty and a narrative that I think customers respond to in a very positive way.

"I love the forms of lichens and the textures of stone. I am fascinated by how old these things are and how we have used them through time."

We love your use of texture and shapes, tell us more about your design process and where you find your inspiration.

I walk a lot, for my health and for the sheer joy of being outdoors. There is so much inspiration out there and I know lots of people say they are “inspired by nature” but when you start talking to them and getting into the subject, they usually have a particular passion. Mine is lichen and stone. I love the forms of lichens and the textures of stone. I am fascinated by how old these things are and how we have used them through time. I could write about this for pages but you’d be better off checking out my website if you want to find out more!

What's the most sentimental piece of jewellery you own?

My wedding ring. It was my great great Grandma’s. Other than that, I am not sentimental about jewellery.

What’s sparking your inspiration right now?

After an artist’s residency with Mayes Creative last year at the Cott Valley, I got very excited about forging silver on the granite boulders down on the beach. 

This isn’t a new idea, jewellers have been doing it for a long time but I love the idea that I can use a small palm sized pebble and take an imprint of a boulder onto the silver which is place specific, like a finger print of a stone.

Is there a technique you haven’t tried yet but would like to try?

Keum-boo (an ancient Korean gilding technique used to apply thin sheets of gold to silver, to make silver-gilt) is on my list of things I’d like to try. I have read up on how to do it and researched all the equipment needed but I now need to find the time to actually do it.

What’s your favourite design you’ve made to date and why?

I honestly don’t have a favourite. There are pieces from each range that I wear regularly. The Mini Monolith necklace, the Tiny Monolith Stripe studs and the Everyday Synthesis earrings are my go too but I love big earrings so the large Lichen hoops or the Synthesis Open Rectangle earrings are my choice. The Mylor ring I wear all the time and of course, a Peruvian Blue Opal!

Describe your workspace and tell us how you make it your own.

My workshop is full of bits and pieces I collect while I’m out walking. Pebbles, shells, lichen blown from branches, dried flowers and seed heads. I also have lots of images on my walls, things that inspire me and reminders of places I’ve been. I’m a fan of words too, I write quite a lot as a hobby so I have bits of text pinned up on my walls too.

Show and tell us all about your latest make.

The metal I hammered out at the Cott Valley is my newest work which hasn’t made it to my website yet so this is a sneak peek of pieces to come. Each bangle was forged in a particular place and will be engraved with the location. I love the different textures each one has and the moment in time they capture. Each of the pebbles is worn by the sea so the surface is slowly eroding, each forged piece of metal can only be made once in its exact detail.

I have also been part of a series of exhibitions this year with the Precious Collective. I helped to start the collective up with Lynne Speake and it showcases the work of contemporary art jewellers from around the world. 

We all work in alternative materials to the traditional ones associated with jewellery. I made these hat pins for the Past Present Future show at Bury Art Gallery earlier this year. It’s really interesting to work in found materials and play with composition and form.

"I think the day to day running of your own business can be a lonely one some days. Seek support and help from others in the creative sector and remember to help those who are coming up behind you."

What are your favourite gemstones to use in your designs and why?

It has to be Peruvian Blue Opals. They are the most stunning colour (like Kynance Cove in summer) and my favourites have inclusions called dendrites which look like lichen or seaweed growing inside the stone. They are only found in the Andes in Peru and the colour comes from the copper they are formed alongside. They are the national stone of Peru and said to bring creativity to the wearer.

What’s your favourite metal to use and why?

Silver and gold are both lovely to work with. I use Fairtrade gold to add highlights to my work and the silver is all recycled. They both take on texture really well and I love the colours.

One tool you couldn’t live without:

My hammer. It was my Granddad’s and has a worn wooden handle and a heavily textured head which is like a signature across my work. I like the connection to my past that it gives me.

What’s one thing you wish people knew about jewellery making?

How long it takes to make individual pieces and how long it takes to learn your craft.

What challenges did you come across on your jewellery making journey and what’s your advice to fellow jewellers that might face the similar?

I think the day to day running of your own business can be a lonely one some days. Seek support and help from others in the creative sector and remember to help those who are coming up behind you.

Tools

Texturing Tutorials

Metal

"I went on 2 artists residencies recently, and I am really looking forward to progressing the ideas I formed."

What’s your favourite thing about learning something new and what resources do you use to do so?

New skills can open up my ideas and help me to work in creative tangents to my current collections. I learnt etching a few years ago which has evolved into my Talisman collection. Each piece is etched with the names of endangered species and each sale raises money to support the wonderful work of conservation charities such as PlantLife and RSPB.

When you’re not making jewellery, where can we find you?

In my spare time I love gardening, potting on cuttings and growing veg. I love walking too but my dog is 12 now so can’t manage the long days out we used to do. Instead, we take a picnic or a flask of coffee and hangout on the beach at Flushing.

What’s one thing you’re looking forward to right now?

I went on 2 artists residencies recently and I am really looking forward to progressing the ideas I formed.

What design are you currently working on? Any hints of future collections?

The last question leads on well to this one! Currently, I am playing with sheets of silver I forged out on granite rocks while I was in West Penwith last winter. These are place specific, as I mentioned before, and at the moment I have an elegant bangle design finished but I want to expand the collection to include earrings and rings this year.

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