I hope you’re having a lovely Easter weekend…
Today on Flowerona, I’m featuring an interview with jewellery designer, Claire Hart.
When did you start your business and where are you based?
I started out by making jewellery for friends and the commissions gradually grew.
The idea to set up in business really started when I lived in Kunming, China in 2008.
I bought materials in Guangzhuo and it was there that I discovered the red sea bamboo roses.
I was invited to exhibit in a show in Kunming, alongside Chinese designers which was a fantastic opportunity for me.
On my return from China I discovered Flux Studios, a marvellous jewellery/silversmithing studio which had opened up just round the corner from where I live in Camberwell.
I loved working with silver, developing ways to set my stones found in China and I’ve been fortunate to learn skills from top UK silversmiths in SE London.
The combination of my fascination with the Far East whilst pursuing my passion for working with silver has been life-changing for me.
Where do you get your floral inspiration for your designs?
I first discovered the red roses, which I now hand claw-set in bespoke silver settings, in a famous jewellery district in Guangzhou in 2008.
Finding them was quite a feat as the choice of shops was overwhelming, like nothing I’d ever seen in the West.
But when I found the tiny roses, I was really struck by the intensity of their colour and the sculpted shape…I knew I had come across something really special.
Each time I returned to China, I would look out for more. I later created a second rose collection of white mother of pearl flowers which I also buy from China.
I started making spoons, inspired by drawing rose hips at my family home in Belfast.
I sculpted the handles of the spoons into branches and as I refined them, I transferred the forging techniques I had learnt in silversmithing to my jewellery.
I soon started creating branches for the flowers in my rings and necklaces. So my silver gifts…bowls and spoons…are linked to the floral designs of my jewellery, each one influencing the other.
My inspiration also comes from the numerous sketchbooks and photos I keep from my travels, many of them Eastern-inspired.
One great source of inspiration has been drawings of Oriental artefacts in London, such as the exhibition of clothes from the Forbidden City at the V&A over a year ago.
What are your plans for 2013?
I have a study day booked at the British Museum to have a closer look at a Chinese antique which intrigues me…it dates from about 1600.
It has stunning intricate floral and organic forms, some of which may influence my new designs coming out later in 2013.
I plan to continue exhibiting at selected shows in London and in Belfast, and will also host a small number of jewellery salons in London.
Do you have a favourite flower?
It’s difficult to choose one. Of course I love roses and their scent, but perhaps my favourite flower is the delicate but resilient orchid.
I’ve been in tropical orchid houses in Atlanta, Georgia and in Kew, London, which are stunning.
I also learnt a lot about orchids as I made the bridal bouquet for a friend, working with gorgeous deep pink orchids.
It was at times a nerve-racking task hand-wiring each orchid, but the bouquet held together very well, in the beautiful orchid-themed wedding.
Many thanks to Claire for all her help in compiling today’s blog post.
(Images : Claire Hart)