Hi Caitlin, please tell everyone a bit about yourself and introduce your brand & beautiful jewellery.
I am a jewellery artist creating handmade silver and wooden jewellery that resonates with the ancient past.
I am based in Helensburgh, on the West coast of Scotland, designing and making in the tranquillity of my garden studio. I have undertaken residencies at Cove Park and at The Glasgow School of Art, from where I graduated. I have exhibited in Australia and widely in Europe including the UK, France, and Denmark.
When did you begin jewellery making and how have you developed your practice over time?
I have to say that I think I have always made jewellery. As a child growing up, I was always foutering around with things, being told I had ‘busy hands’ and forever collecting materials when I was out in the countryside. I began studying the discipline around 7 years ago. I was undertaking a portfolio course at The Glasgow School of Art where I was exploring different creative avenues. I fell in love with the tools and the workshop environment of the Jewellery and Silversmithing Department. I remember feeling like I had stepped back in time, and I think that is what drew me into making jewellery, was that I felt that I was practicing living history by learning the ancient craft skills that are virtually unchanged to this day. I think it is a privilege to work as a jeweller and to keep their ancient skills rejuvenated in contemporary society.
Where do you take inspiration from?
I look for rhythms and patterns that transcend ancient times, I am fascinated with the ambiguous nature of pattern-making. I interpret patterns as a common language that communicates between our ancient and present selves. Scotland’s Kilmartin Glen is a source of inspiration, looking to the stone carvings and artefacts found in hoards at this ancient site. I aim for my jewellery designs to be timeless, and to connect the wearer to their primordial selves.
Can you share with us, the process of your jewellery making and what is your favourite part of the process?
Drawing is at the roots of my practice. Using silversmithing techniques of the historical past, I use hand-made tools to translate the expressive quality of my sketches into precious metals. I also make unique pigment recipes to dye my wooden surfaces rich shades of alluring blue. This way of working with wood involves an element of unpredictability which I really enjoy. I cut the wood to expose the natural patterns within the grain, applying the pigment enhances these patterns and each wood I work with takes on it’s own shade of blue.
Can you tell us about the creative workshops that you host for local communities?
I started off developing a Children’s Summer School Program for the Glasgow School of Art. Each session, I would share a traditional craft technique, and we would make a piece of jewellery using this technique but out of everyday materials. I really enjoyed doing this, so began to take these workshops out into youth clubs, into schools and into community groups. Children responded so well, I think it was really beneficial for them to be shown a technique that they could experiment with, encouraging play and development of a confidence in their own abilities.
Before Covid, I had been planning workshops that would focus on material resourcefulness and engaging individuals with ancient craft skills, reaching out to various age groups from children to adults. All of this came to a standstill with lockdown, however I was invited to do some workshops with a local ‘Hub’ school which I facilitated live over google meet. This worked very well and I am looking forward to working in the new normal that we find ourselves in.
I also work with an organisation as part of Cove Park Artist Residency site, where we work with visiting artists from all around the world and deliver workshops based around their practice, to children in the local rural community.
We would love to know more about some of the projects & commissions you have worked on, can you share some of these with us?
I have worked on some really special commissions for clients including an anniversary present to make a necklace combining two different woods that reference the coming together of a couple from a Scottish and Lebanese background. I have also worked on jewellery that has been made from heirloom metal, including late parents wedding bands and gold from a great-grandparents tooth filling!
Can you tell us about the area that you live & work in?
I live in Helensburgh, a small seaside town. I think it is a really special place because we are contained in a triangle of three bodies of water, Loch Lomond, Loch Long and the River Clyde. We are also really lucky to be able to benefit from both the beach and beautiful woodland areas and walks, still being less than an hours drive from Glasgow!
What would you recommend seeing & doing to people visiting your area?
Helensburgh has that delightfully kitsch seaside town vibe about it, you can stroll along the prom on a gloriously sunny day or get wrapped up for a blowy walk. There are some great eateries and small shops. To escape, I would recommend a walk up Ben Bowie, the views at the top are unbelievable. I would also recommend a visit to Geilston Garden, it has the most enchanting walled garden, burn and woodland walk. There is also a magical kitchen garden that makes you feel like you have stepped into a fairytale book.
What other small businesses would you like to give a shout out to?
Locally there is Lomond Paper Company who designs gorgeous illustrations. For food, The Ginger Breadman Cafe on Sinclair Street has divine has divine home-baked goods and does a rare seasonal breakfast. The Scandinavian Shop is the perfect place to find a gift, they beautifully curate Scandinavian and local design.
Can you pick out 4 or 5 things in your working space that you can’t live without?
That is a really hard question! I would say that I can not live without my hand-made tools which I use to emboss patterns into metal. I hand-forge them out of steel, so that mark that it makes is completely unique to me. These tools are made to replicate the marks in my drawing on paper, so they are really personally expressive. Other than my jewellery tools, I would say that my fairy lights are absolutely essential for holding ambiance in an otherwise dusty (and often very messy) environment!
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOUR WORK?