This month we’re delighted to welcome French jewellery designer Clara Breen as our guest blogger.
I love to play with the notion of the contemporary keepsake by combining paper and precious metals when designing some of my jewellery pieces.
I work with recycled paper, fragments of leaflets, maps, train tickets or coloured card. I was delighted when my paper and fine silver container ring was recently featured on BBC Radio 4 ‘Woman’s Hour’, where my client discussed the memories contained in the paper layers sealed inside the ring, and how his girlfriend reacted when receiving the ring. Using a unique riveting technique, I transform layers of paper into a beautiful, contemporary and sturdy piece of jewellery. They are hardwearing and completely waterproof. A must for the British weather! Each piece tells a very personal story, something to cherish for many years.
In the past I have worked with the gift shop in Tate Modern, creating specially-commissioned pieces containing recycled Tate maps and leaflets.
Up until a couple of years ago, I was also the manager of the London Dazzle jewellery exhibition before leaving to concentrate solely on my jewellery.
From my studio in Cockpit Arts, London, my main focus is to create beautifully crafted jewellery, which are at once precious and evocative, quirky and graphically-pleasing. The layering effect achieved with paper in turn inspires the range in corrugated silver, oxidised or with 18ct gold-plating and semi-precious stones. Still uncompromisingly modern, this range features highly wearable pieces which will become lovely daily companions.
I aim to have a sustainable approach to my jewellery making whenever possible, the paper being recycled, the silver is in large part recycled and sourced from a British manufacturer.
What do you love most about being a jeweller?
What makes my day? Seeing a client happy with their jewellery – whether it be a treat for themselves, a special gift, or a one-off commission. Designing and making is of course a pleasure for me. But the best part will always be when the piece finds its ‘home’, and I see that the client is really delighted!
What or who has been the biggest influence on your work?
There have been so many along the way!
As a teenager, I was fascinated by the beautiful work and tools of jewellery artist Catherine Mauger, who is a friend of the family – it was through her I first became aware of this profession!
Just after graduating I worked for Jane Adam – She was a huge inspiration. In particular I admire her dedication to being highly creative whilst also running a successful business.
At Cockpit Arts I’m surrounded by really professional creatives – My peers inspire me every day.
If you could chose a figure from history or public life to wear your jewellery who would it be and why?
I’ve just seen the film ‘Wadjda‘ and would love Haifaa Al-Mansour, the director, and first Saudi female film-maker, to wear some of my work!
I admire the way she made a stand for women’s rights, with wit and humour.
If you could own a piece by another maker working in any discipline, no price limit, what would you choose and why?
I have been fascinated by glass artist Colin Reid’s work for years. The cast optical glass pieces are so beautiful – at once smooth, textured and three-dimensional, they change as you move around them.
How do you like to relax after a day in the studio?
I trained to play cello from a really young age, but I don’t have time to practice! Instead I watch others play- I love live music, especially in small, unusual London venues!
If you were not a jeweller what would you like to be and why?
I’ve always been interested in Art therapy and Music therapy – I’m fascinated by the idea of healing through creativity. I see this on a small scale during my jewellery classes – Students leave feeling empowered and excited to see what they can achieve!
Where in the world is your dream holiday destination and why?
I would love to visit the Himalayan region someday, whether it be the Sikkim region in India, Nepal, or Bhutan. I’m really drawn to the region, for the stunning scenery and the fascinating cultures.
Clara has a beautiful selection of her work available at http://www.lovedazzle.com/shop/ClaraBreen.aspx