In conversation with artisan jeweller, Camilla West

The British Craft Trade Fair (BCTF) features a broad selection of exceptionally talented independent British jewellers. We catch up with new exhibitor, Camilla West, who will present her collection at BCTF 2019. Camilla designs in recycled silver and gold. Except for her upcoming partially cast range, she makes every piece completely by hand.

Says Camilla: “My stand is number P14, in the post-newcomers section. 2019 will be my first year at BCTF, having previously exhibited at Top Drawer. I visited BCTF 2018, and I can’t wait to come back as an exhibitor!

“I’m based in Hildenborough, Kent. I started my business in 2016, although I’ve been crafting for as long as I can remember and working with silver and gemstones for a good while now. I design and make jewellery, mostly in silver, using botanical imprints, hammered surfaces and semi-precious gems. I also work in gold (and sometimes gold fill). I design intuitively and my pieces have an organic feel. I’m happy to work with stockists to create exclusive items or ranges.

“I work across several techniques, combining traditional silversmithing with silver clay and wire weaving, depending on the design of the piece. I like techniques that allow me to form the metal in a tactile, visceral way. I leave traces of my process on the finished jewellery: the honesty of this attracts me, and it also echoes the small imperfections in the natural and organic forms and patterns that I’m drawn to. I make everything by hand from metal sheet, wire and clay; except that I cast the seedhead plaques for my Stone Parsley collection, to streamline my making process and ensure availability.

“When designing around gemstones I keep the metalwork simple to showcase the beauty of the stone, protecting and securing it whilst keeping as much of it as possible on display. For example, the gems in my “Coil” rings are drilled and suspended with wire between two prongs, so that they rest directly against the finger and are visible even from underneath.

“My work suits independent shops and galleries whose customers like organic-looking jewellery that’s fresh and a little unusual. I’m also talking to some museum gift shops whose collections focus on nature and/or anthropology. Many of my stockists are in rural counties: Kent, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Derbyshire…

“Through my work I speak about my relationship with nature and the natural world, and the importance of humanity’s connection to these. I’m fascinated by small details of form and texture in nature, which are often commonplace and overlooked but, for me at least, incredibly beautiful.

“My new Stone Parsley collection will be on show at BCTF, featuring jewellery cast from tiny real wildflower seedheads. I’m also experimenting with faceted gemstones and other botanical imprints, so by April I should have some exciting new designs ready!

“I’m exhibiting at BCTF to attract new stockists, as well as to catch up with current stockists and show them my new designs. BCTF will be my only trade show for 2019, and as a British small-scale designer-maker there really is no better place to showcase my work and attract the right kind of audience”.

Last but not least, we wanted to know what Camilla thinks are the hallmarks of great British design?

“Great British design displays well-chosen materials and high quality construction. It’s self-assured and expressive, and draws out innovation from a rich tradition of craftsmanship.
Please share any interesting anecdotes or other information you think would be useful.”

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