I am Judith Brown
Friday, May 17, 2013
Judith says she started experimenting with coloured wires and beads and gradually her collections developed from there.
How did your interest in jewellery start?
I have always made things, from clothes for my dolls as a young child, to my own clothes as a teenager, but most of my making was with textiles with skills taught by my mother. When I was about 17 I started making jewellery, which I then sold to friends and family to fund my hobby, so I guess the seeds were sewn back then! I did consider a jewellery degree but in the end my affinity for textiles won and I chose Embroidery. After my degree I went to Italy and taught English for about five years. I had some friends who made jewellery from copper wire and one day I started to play with some of their wire and I realised I could use some of my stitching techniques with wire rather than thread or fabric.
Where did you train?
I studied for a degree in Embroidery at Manchester Metropolitan University, which I completed in 1994. I didn't work with wire at the time, or make jewellery but I was working on delicate transparent hangings with hand and machine stitching.
Where is your studio?
I used to work from my home on the Wirral, but I have just moved to Staffordshire, which has meant the chance of finding a separate studio space, so now I have a studio in a Business Centre. It has lots of windows so it is very light and airy which is great for making things. Whilst I enjoyed working from home, I now appreciate being able to close the door at the end of a busy day!
What is the main inspiration for your design?
The main inspiration is giving a second life to the old haberdashery items, which I use in most of my designs, highlighting the beauty of everyday objects coupled with a sense of nostalgia. Most have been carefully stored away in a sewing drawer or button tin by a mother or grandmother, perhaps in the times of 'make do and mend', ready for reuse when needed. I think they would be pleased that they are finally being put to good use. For my latest Romantic Nostalgia range of designs in my popular Vintage Noir collection, I looked at Edwardian and Victorian jewellery for inspiration to help develop the collection further. It is not obvious to many that my jewellery is made from old hooks and eyes or buttons, so I get some great reactions as they finally realise, and it is a great talking point too!
What is your preferred medium?
All of my jewellery is hand-stitched with fine wire, either silver or enamelled copper, which is a technique which I have developed myself following my Embroidery studies. Another feature of my collections is that most incorporate vintage haberdashery such as hooks, eyes, press studs, antique buttons up to 100 years old and vintage lace, which I have upcycled and recycled into contemporary jewellery with a nostalgic feel. Many of the pieces are unique because of this.
Do you have a favourite tool?
I only really use pliers so I would have to say my hands are my most important tool. I like the fact that I start with a roll of wire and a vintage mother of pearl button, for example, and with my hands I create something from almost nothing.
What are your goals?
I would like to build up my workshop programme. As a general goal I want to continue to develop as a designer whilst nurturing and growing the business too.
Do you offer workshops and jewellery classes?
Yes, I have several dates on my calendar for 2013 and I am hoping to add more. I am also hoping that I can run some from my new studio soon, once I have established more of a network of local contacts in the area.
Where do you exhibit/sell your work?
I exhibit regularly in art and craft galleries around the UK and at contemporary craft events like the Contemporary Textiles Fair in March and the Contemporary Craft Festival in June. I am also really proud to supply my jewellery to both the British Museum and the V&A. Since my move to Staffordshire I have become a member of the Peak District Artisans and will be exhibiting with them this year for the first time. A full list of events and stockists can be found on my website.
What has been your greatest achievement?
I had an amazing week in March 2012 when the V&A first approached me and I also had the news that Embroidery magazine were going to feature my work, which as an Embroidery graduate had special meaning to me. That was a good week!
'A New Life', The Craft Centre and Design Gallery, Leeds, 23 March-29 June,
The Contemporary Craft Festival,
Bovey Tracey, Devon, 7-9 June,
The Great Dome Art Fair,
The Devonshire Dome, Buxton, 19-21 July,
The Beetroot Tree Gallery, Draycott, Derbyshire, 23 June
Chapel gallery, Ormskirk, Lancashire,
17 April-14 May