May’s Designer of the Month is Amanda Thorpe. She is a designer from a Derbyshire who enjoys working with sterling silver and metal clay. Drawing on the natural world for inspiration, Amanda has created some stunning designs. Learn more about her, her background, what inspires her and what she thinks will be the next trend to take off with jewellery makers in this month’s Designer of the Month.
Let us know a bit about yourself, detailing your background, study and training in the jewellery making industry.
I live in a beautiful village in Derbyshire, I work part time at Chesterfield Royal Hospital and part time jewellery making. I am lucky enough to have a small studio in my garden which is where I am able to look at the beautiful surroundings which gives me inspiration for a lot of my designs.
I come from a very arty family, my grandmother, mother and older sister draw and paint to an amazing standard, I on the other hand cannot paint but I have always been able to make things with my hands.
I enrolled on a silversmith course at Chesterfield college 3 years ago and got hooked on making lovely shiny things, I do love bashing things, but I found metal clay and I fell in love with it.
Last year, I very successfully completed all 3 PMC clay certificates, I travelled to York to study with an amazing lady called Helen Drye, an amazing tutor.
Tell us about your work – are there any particular materials or techniques that you favour?
I mainly work in sterling silver and 925 & 999 metal clay. Metal clay is such a versatile medium and available in clay, paste and syringe.
I use the syringe form of the clay a lot, it’s quite tricky but you can do a lot of free hand work which is very satisfying when it goes right.
As part of my course I also learnt how to make bezel settings, glass cabochons which is fantastic but there is trial and error and don’t always turn out how I expect.
I also learnt the technique of keumo boo which I am now incorporating into my jewellery.
How would you best describe your design style?
I haven’t stuck to one particular style as I’m still very new to designing and making jewellery so whatever designs pop into my head I go with the flow.
I enjoy making larger pieces of jewellery best which have weight to them, I like to incorporate patterns and semi-precious stones into my pieces.
Where do you like to get your inspiration from for your pieces?
I love nature and all the different patterns and textures that appear naturally, whether in my garden, the local woodland or from the coast where I can spend hours wandering, whenever I’ve been on my travels.
Do you have a piece that you have made which you favour or are particularly proud of?
I made a very large 999 silver hollow string heart which was filled with garnets. This was very difficult to make but turned out beautifully.
What is the one item in your jewellery making workshop that you could not live without?
I would be lost without my third hand! This is a godsend when soldering tricky items.
What upcoming trends do you see being popular soon?
I think people love jewellery that is bespoke and is of a quality. They appreciate the fact that each piece is unique, and no two items are the same.
I think naturalistic designs are becoming more popular, my real silver leaves are always very popular.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt from your time in the jewellery making industry?
I haven’t been making jewellery for that long and it’s a constant learning process. I try a great deal of new things some go as planned, some work much better and many don’t and I make a great deal of mistakes.
Learn from your mistakes and don’t be too hard on yourself, share them if you can.
Join as many groups as possible other designers have a wealth of knowledge and are always willing to help, the community is amazing.
When you have a creative block don’t try and force making things, it doesn’t work, your best just having a short time away doing something completely different and hopefully after not too long your creativity will come back.
Do you have any particular advice that you would give to up and coming jewellery designers, or someone interested in getting into jewellery making?
Patience! Believe in yourself and take a compliment when someone gives it and don’t give up.
Finally, time for a bit of fun in our quick-fire round!
Tell us your favourite…
Colour – Blue
Biscuit – Chocolate Hobnob
Drink – Prosecco
Place – By the sea
Animal – Dragonfly
Gemstone – Sapphire
Food – Seafood
Sport – Try to avoid at all costs
Film – Guardians of the Galaxy
City – New York
Many thanks to Amanda from Marsh Brook Silver for being our Designer of the Month this month and for sharing this information
Want to discover the work of other jewellery makers?