Teapots, The Beatles & A Chastity belt: A Jewellers early years!
My mother signed me up as an apprentice to Graham Watling in Lacock, when I returned from the Navy. On my first day I soldered and polished 12 silver bangles, it all seemed surprisingly straightforward and I loved it – I was hooked from then on. As an apprentice silversmith early commissions were varied and challenging: hand raised coffee pots, wine goblets, chunky jewellery set with large semi-precious gemstones, but the most unusual was a chastity belt in silver!
Silversmithing is an intriguing process. To start out with a flat disk of silver and end up with a teapot, just by using a series of hammers and metal stakes still amazes me! Although I enjoyed making these large silver pieces, they took time, and I began to love designing and making jewellery that was quicker and more personal to create. I was fascinated by the endless variety of gems and each stones unique shape and qualities.
Silver Amethyst 'Nest' pendant Silver 'Fuchsia' pendent
This was a time of design and experimentation for me and I spent years perfecting techniques to develop a unique style. One of my favourites was dropping molten silver into cold water from various heights to create interesting organic shapes. I continued to developed designs and eventually I had a whole range to sell.
‘Down Your Way’ featured me, a young silversmith among people from the village of Lacock. As a relaunch of this iconic series we were on the cover of the Radio Times. Brian Johnson, the legendary commentator from ‘Test Match Special’, interviewed us and presented the show which featured other locals like me, the postmistress, a thatcher, a historian and the museum curator. Mum was cross I didn’t have a haircut for the cover photo! We were asked to pick our favourite records and after agonising over my selection I choose the Beatles ‘Here comes the sun’ and Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick road’.
As the seventies came to a close’ I knew it was time to leave my rural idyll and strike out on my own in 1979, aged 23, I prepared to open my first shop in Bath. It took 8 months: I took the roof off the building, replaced the plumbing & electrics, made the cabinets, then I made the jewellery to sell.
Of course silver featured, belt buckles and walking stick handles, as well my silversmiths jewellery.
My second shop, opened in 1985 in New Bond Street.
So began the shop days and 80's high life! I’ll tell you all about it sometime...