At Varoshe we love to showcase unusual jewellery. As well as our own work, we display collections made by other independent jewellers who all have their own stories of how they started their career, what they love to design and how they work. Each journey is unique and is poured in to every piece that they make. This month I would like to share one of these stories with you...
How did you first ‘get into’ jewellery?
I started with evening classes at Truro and Penwith College about seven years ago. Interestingly my first jewellery tutor was Victoria Walker, an amazing jewellery maker who makes kinetic lockets and who I enjoy working for one day a week now. After my first year of evening classes I went onto complete a City and Guilds certificate in jewellery making, again in the evening and at Truro College. Having finished that I spent a year outside of my part time job and bringing up two young children consolidating the skills I had learnt and also considering whether to embark on the three year BA Honours degree in Silversmithing and Jewellery. I wanted to further my skills beyond an evening class level and train to an academic formal level. I felt I had only scratched the surface with jewellery making and wanted to explore further. So I took the plunge, went back to college as a ‘grown up’ and completed the degree three years later.
What is your work space like?
We have converted our loft space into my jewellery workshop. I have two large Velux windows so it’s lovely and bright. I think it is the best space in the house, like a creative nest! It is looking a bit disorganised in this image but it isn’t. I like to think I work methodically I don’t like chaos or a confused work pattern.
What is your favourite thing to make/design?
I would definitely answer this with brooches. I feel the brooch gives me a larger surface area to design. Earrings, rings and pendants can be restrictive in their functionality but I believe you can have more fun with a brooch, there is larger scope to push further designs. One of my favourite brooches I make is the Black Tor Locket Brooch, named after a Tor on Bodmin Moor which was the source of inspiration. It has an enamelled centre which is set with gold claws in an oxidised silver mounting. As with many of my brooches there is a secret locket compartment at the back beneath a polished silver door. Open this to reveal a flash of gold leaf and tiny area to tuck away small treasures.
Which three words best describe your work?
Curious, intricate, secret
What jewellery are you wearing right now?
I am wearing a pair of my Hawks Tor earrings in silver with tiny citrine stones and matching Hawks Tor Skinny Pin again with a citrine stone. I usually wear this combination every single day. I love to wear pins! I am also wearing my wedding ring which is a silver band with gold dots. I love this and bought it from a jewellery designer before I started making jewellery myself. And finally my engagement ring which is a vintage 1960’s white gold ring with diamond which used to be my mum’s.
What is the proudest moment in your jewellery career so far?
I still feel quite new to the professional jewellery making world having graduated just less than two years ago so I would still say my proudest moment was being awarded a First Class Honours Degree in Silversmithing and Jewellery with a Principles Recommendation.
What’s one thing you’d like to accomplish this year? (Can be work or personal.)
In April this year I ran the London Marathon for the first time and loved every minute of it. (I’m rather proud of my 3hrs 35 minute time!) So now I have accomplished that I have signed up for my first Ultra Marathon which shall be 32 miles on the Cornish coast path in August. I guess with lots of training I should be fine! I love trail running and believe it’s a kind of medicine for me. Whilst running I am able to organise my thoughts and design ideas which can sometimes come thick and fast and slightly overwhelm me. Or alternatively I can just zone out and enjoy the simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other and appreciate being outside and the wildlife and scenery around me.
If you weren’t a jeweller which other job would you have loved just as much?
Now out of all the questions this was the hardest to answer. I don’t want to sound trite but there really isn’t another job I would prefer to be doing. I think because I have only been doing it professionally for just two years it is still all very exciting and wonderful. I feel alive and inspired when I’m at the jewellery bench. There can be challenges and some aspects of running a business can take me on a rather large learning curve (the admin side, web design!), but essentially when a customer feeds back to me how much joy they have in wearing a piece of my work it’s the best feeling and I never fail to appreciate how lucky I am to do what I do.
Name one fact that people may not know about you.
I used to live in Edinburgh where I was Head Scenic Artist at the Royal Lyceum Theatre. In my life pre children I trained in theatre design and embarked on a career in painting scenery and making props. I have worked in many theatres as a freelance scenic and loved it. I often find it interesting that I have transferred my large paintbrushes, massive workshops and paint frames to tiny tweezers and a jewellery bench. However, thinking about it when designing a theatre set a 1:25 scale model must be made beforehand so the director, cast and set builders can visualise the design. I guess I’m utilizing my theatre model making skills and definitely crossing over my design skills.
You can now find Monique’s new collection at Varoshe, so if you love her work as much as we do then head over to 2 West Street to see the full display in all its glory! Looking for a specific piece? We recommend that you phone ahead to check availability and avoid disappointment. You can find out how to contact us here.
As always, if you have any jewellery questions, or would like to know more about the people behind the jewellery, then please do get in touch, we are only too happy to try and help.