We met Jane Griffin in a lovely coffee shop in the market town of Bicester, north Oxfordshire for a chat about her jewellery and what inspires her to make such unique jewelled accessories.
Based locally, Jane specialises in jewellery using multi-media but she has a particular love of working with glass and metals, precious and otherwise. As a historian Jane takes influences from the past and designs very individual pieces that reflect both their past but also push forward new techniques and processes. Jane will be joining many other talented artists at Oxfordshire Artweeks, Bicester in May.
Read on as we dig deeper into the creative world of jewellery designer Jane Griffin.
When did you start making jewellery Jane?
I’ve always made things and been creative. I work with mixed media and jewellery mostly, and I first started making it when I was sixteen. I became inspired by the way our jewellery tells stories about who we are, how it conveys our individuality. I want to make pieces that are very unique, so that the person wearing it feels differently and really connects with the story behind the individual piece.
What is your favourite medium and why?
My favourite media are metals and glass; it’s not all about silver! I enjoy recycling glass, such as sea glass, and find that broken jewellery can be incorporated into a new piece I'm making. It’s exciting to adapt between media too. I also like to work with reticulated silver, a process that heats the silver up and separates the different alloys creating a unique effect, because it always turns out differently – no five pieces are the same, it’s very exciting process.
Jewellery can be made from almost anything: spun hair and silver teaspoons, are great sources of raw materials and can be woven into almost any design; a tiny sculpture or even a 3 dimensional brooch. The rings Jane wears show off their 3D forms, and look like little sculptures themselves.
Where do you create your work and do you ever truly finish a piece of work?
My studio is called the kitchen! – I like to work at home independently and the kitchen provides the essential services I need for my processes. I also work at Old St Edburg's School, now home to the OYAP Trust and Bicester Sculpture Group, but communal spaces can be more distracting, however they also have their benefits.
Yes – you’re always looking to do something new within old pieces, and with anything more creative, if it’s geared to look back on past events for instance. My ideas are forever changing, I find that if I wear a piece with a different jacket for example it can completely change how I view it.
How did you choose the subject matter for your work?
I draw inspiration from lots of sources. It can be a conversation, an idea for a gift for someone, the countryside or historic jewellery and literature. There is jewellery in the Ashmolean from the Roman era - some necklaces that I have taken inspiration from. It’s great to take ideas from the art you see around you too. I also love the lettering in medieval manuscripts, you can’t beat their beauty.
How would you define your creative process?
I always make sure to keep a sketchbook with me, because when I find and observe a subject I can record it. I often create many drawing of my designs until they look exactly how I want them to, until I can get the shape of something and can I figure out how I want to adapt it.
In the studio, my usual routine is to have a cup of tea, to read something inspiring and look at images on my tablet and maybe draw for an hour.
What inspires you & where do you get your inspiration?
I like to bring in all kinds of different techniques together – for example, bringing knitting and crochet into metal work. Jewellery making is very diverse and there are many different routes one can take. And I absolutely love sharing knowledge, asking questions of others and answering their questions. Whilst my preference is to work in a solitary workspace, I do love incorporating ideas from other artists; embracing collaboration. It’s great to always be looking at the people around you. Not to steal, but to be inspired and to learn new techniques.
What is most important to you to express in a piece of work and are there ideas, themes or motifs you find yourself coming back to?
The story is the most important, as it helps me develop the character of every jewellery piece I make. The conversation around a piece really says a lot about the person who buys it too.
A larger dradon's eye I made once was bought by a lovely American lady who had a personality to match - she saw the piece and it spoke to her; it reflected who she was. This is what jewellery should do.
Another example from my own experience is from my choral days. At our performances we would all be dressed the same, strictly black & nothing shiny, but I used to wear a colourful ear piece. At the end of the performances I would tuck my hair behind my ear so there would be this flash of colour revealed. It’s about the individuality each piece expresses. Sometimes my jewellery sells slowly, but it will always find the right person, even if it takes a while.
Do you have any formal art qualifications or are you self-taught?
I took a course at the London Jewellery School, but most of my knowledge has come from a love of learning and being surrounded by creative people.
Which artists, well known or otherwise, do you admire?
A few of the artists I admire are Hannah Willow and Jackie Morris; I find Jackie’s gold leaf and wildlife birds most inspiring. The arts and crafts movement generally has been a great inspiration to me too and Eric Ravilious - the English printmaker from the 1930s. It’s good to create a chain of inspiration, to think: who are the people you are inspired by inspired by? Then to research what they do and how they do it.
What music do you listen to when you are creating?
I listen to lute music, Seth Lakeman, and sometimes story tapes: I particularly like Terry Pratchett stories read by Tony Robinson. Also spoken word. Sometimes I listen to heavy rock, such as Metallica and Queen. It depends on my mood, but I find that it does influence my work, and it can become a reflection of my creativity.
Looking back on your work, what do you think about it now?
All of my work shows my development, how I have improved, but I also look at some pieces and think, wow, I definitely would have done that differently. Ultimately, it’s always been about individuality. Everything has been an expression of my individuality at the time and each piece helps the wearer say ‘You will remember me, because I wore something different.’ If I can help people to express something of their uniqueness and individuality, that is enough for me.
Information about artists
Facebook: The Jewelled Hare
2019 Exhibitions and Courses
Oxfordshire Artweeks, Bicester - The Old St Edburg's School, Cemetery Road, Bicester, OX26 6BB 18th -27th May 2019 11am until 5pm