What is Precious? An interview with jeweller Amy Stringer
Amy Stringer studied Jewellery & Metalwork at Sheffield Hallam University where she became inspired by the city’s combination of modern, industrial architecture and large green spaces. This led her to create an exciting range of jewellery that combines cement with striking silver work and elements from nature. We caught up with Amy to find out more about the materials she uses and her exciting new collection called What is Precious?…
From the moment we first saw your work we were excited by your use of such interesting, contrasting materials. Can you tell us a bit about what it was that drew you to using these in your jewellery?
I have always been inspired by architecture, right from when I started to study design. Throughout university I continued to use this inspiration until one day, during a crit with my tutor, I suddenly had the brainwave – Instead of just being inspired by it, why not use an actual architectural material?
It’s always fascinating to see behind the scenes. Can you tell us about your studio?
I have recently moved into a communal studio in Leeds which I love. I have my own, large space with two benches and all my equipment within a big industrial building. Although I have my own ‘space’ there are no walls dividing me from other makers which makes for a really great and free working environment.
How do you begin to design new pieces and where’s your ideal place to go for inspiration?
My inspiration really comes from everything that is around me. I can be walking to the supermarket, look up, and suddenly see a shape, texture, material which inspires a piece of jewellery. I was recently travelling through London and had to change tube at Westminster, turns out the station is beautiful, with exposed concrete and industrial beams and pipes. I was gutted I didn’t have time to stop and take pictures! I’ll definitely go back next time I’m in London.
We know you’ve been working on something new lately… tell us about your ‘What is Precious?’ collection?
My ‘What is Precious?’ Collection is something quite different for me. I’m not just taking inspiration from my usual sources of architecture and nature, but also taking inspiration from fine jewellery. Looking at very traditional gold and gem stone jewellery and translating this by using a lot of brass, semi-precious stones and also containing cement in ways that you could mistake for a gem stone.
I want to create a collection that will challenge the idea of precious and really get the public thinking about why they find certain pieces of jewellery more valuable than others.
The word ‘precious’ is such an interesting one to unpick. We know you love supporting other makers and buying their work. Can you tell us about some of your most precious, treasured craft possessions?
I love to support other small businesses, it is so important. I would feel like a hypocrite to do what I do but then buy my own jewellery and ceramics from the high street. One of my most treasured necklaces is a silver and pearl piece by the designer Cari-Jane Hakes. It was a gift from my mum after graduating from university and a complete surprise.
If you were to collaborate with another maker who would you like that to be?
This is such a difficult question, I admire so many different crafts. It would have to be a glass artist I think, I have always thought it would be so interesting to incorporate glass into my designs, as a material that is found so often next to cement!
What are your exhibition plans for the rest of the year ahead?
This year so far I am exhibiting at the new Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in Sheffield in July, and Lustre at Lakeside Arts in Nottingham in November. I currently have a collection being shown as part of The Byre Gallery ‘Taste’ exhibition in Cornwall and The Craft Centre and Design Gallery, Leeds’ ‘Rings’ Showcase. I’ll also be part of Arteria, Gallery 23 in Lancaster’s ‘Apricity’ exhibition from September to January.
Many thanks to Amy for answering our questions. We’re really excited to share her new collection with you and especially love the incredible colours she achieves through her manipulation of cement and natural materials. Amy’s new collection has started to arrive here…