Meet the Maker: jewellery designer Bridget Bradshaw

6th April, 2020 | 0 comments

In this regular feature we speak to one of the members of the Wessex Guild to find out a bit more about them and their craft, techniques and inspirations.

How did you start doing your craft? What inspired you?

I regularly attended adult evening classes, while my children were growing up. I attended a varied range of classes, such as Sign Language, Upholstery and Holistic Therapies, to name but a few. 

Looking at the new term’s prospectus for a local college, I came across a course called Silver Jewellery Making for Beginners. This piqued my interest, so I enrolled as soon as I could. I bought the small amount of tools I required and off I went with my tiny tool box.

I stayed on this course until I got to the advanced level, enjoying every evening that I spent beavering away at my simple pieces of jewellery. I was bitten by the bug, but I needed to learn more and develop my skills.

What relevant experience or qualifications do you have?

In 2005, at the age of 50, I decided to enrol on a four-year course at Birmingham’s School of Jewellery. I was rewarded for this hard work when my jewellery and silversmithing won competitions run by local jewellery manufacturers.

I graduated in 2009 and then went on to qualify to teach in 2010.

I have been on many other courses to enhance my work since, which means my jewellery is constantly evolving.

What do you do and where do you do it? Do you have an interesting workspace or location?

My unique selling proposition is that I make one-off pieces of precious metal jewellery, in both silver and gold. I work on commissioned pieces, making either brand new designs or recycling old, unloved pieces of jewellery.

I teach and share my skills with my students from my dedicated Studio in my garden, which is equipped with wonderful tools.

What is your design and making process? Can you explain a little about your techniques?

I love learning new techniques to enhance my work. Lately I have been on a course where I was taught how to add colour to metal using colouring pencils! This is a unique, if not time-consuming technique, but gives an amazing finished look to the jewellery, that I will be adding to my range.

I love adding texture to my work, too, and I am always exploring different methods of applying a variety of textures to precious metal.

What is unique about your work? Do you use special methods or make unusual products?

I cannot say that I have a set formula for how I go about designing a piece of jewellery.

My imagination, depending on my mood, can go in many directions, when it come to designing and making a piece of jewellery. Therefore I just let it guide me and see what happens and where it leads me. This is what makes my work different and unique.

Have you won any awards for your work or exhibited somewhere prestigious?

I have won three awards for my work, mainly for the designs and the skills shown in my range of jewellery. All of the competitions were judged by local, jewellery-related manufacturers, which judged the students’ work each year.

I was very humbled to win three such awards. 

Can you tell us the story behind a special artwork you made? Who was it for and why is it memorable?

My favourite commission was given to me by the Mary Rose Museum. I was asked to replicate some of the rings that had been found on the wreck of the Tudor warship, the Mary Rose, that is now on display in Portsmouth.

It was a difficult commission and the complexity of the rings was surprising. This made me question how they could have achieved the results they did back in the 1500s when they were made.

I was really proud of the end results and felt a real sense of satisfaction on completion.

We all have pieces of jewellery that have been handed down to us. When they are not necessarily to our taste, these pieces can be reconstructed and made into something new and contemporary. I get a lot of satisfaction from creating new pieces to customers’ specific requirements. 

I am a hard working, creative individual who loves nothing more than a challenge.

All my pieces of jewellery are unique and, in a world where there are so many mass-produced ranges of jewellery, it is so rewarding to use my skills to make the one-off pieces that I do. I am constantly learning and developing my skills.

The only thing I regret? Not starting my jewellery designing and making a lot sooner.

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