Textiles, ceramics, painting. Whenever someone changes disciplines, I always find it fascinating.
They always seem to bring that past experience and knowledge with them into a new medium, bringing a whole new perspective to jewellery design.
Faye Hall came from a background of textile design (which she still continues to do) so wasn’t it inevitable that her jewellery designs are really tactile, use textiles and have strong geometric shapes?
I first saw Faye’s work at Art & in York, and was a big fan of her flock earrings!
Find out how she moved into jewellery, juggles life with two little people and is just a little bit obsessed with cereal…
We need to get to know you! What’s your favourite breakfast?
I’m a big cereal fan. I think I could eat cereal for every meal! Also I’m currently a bit obsessed with porridge with peanut butter, bananas, blueberries and honey on. But I only do it when I can really be bothered to take the time and effort!
How would you describe your jewellery?
An exploration into colour and contrasting materials – which feel like little wearable pieces of art – especially the brooches!
What materials do you use?
I use all sorts of things! The bulk of the materials I choose come from offcuts either kindly donated to me, found, or sourced from people wanting rid!
Recycled leather, wood, cork, brass and cotton are my general staples but there’s also a great scrap store near where I live where I can find interesting materials to chop up and use.
I find this limitation not only beneficial to the environment in terms of sustainability and reuse, but it forces me to challenge which materials work together both in terms of surface quality/colour interaction and from a construction point of view.
I’ve also begun to hand cast my own materials, using elements such as wood ash, damar, bio resin, plaster, extracted sawdust, charcoal and soy wax – which behave completely different to the leather or cork for example, but have opened up numerous other possibilities for my pieces.
I’m also a huge fan of using anything under celebrated by many people – like linoleum, underlay, formica, and rubber. It’s this huge variety of base materials which allows me to be really playful with my compositions and surface contrasts.
You originally come from a textile background. What made you move into jewellery?
When I was studying for my MA at Glasgow School of Art I was able to do an elective in jewellery for six weeks. My textiles practice has always been very much materials-led and so learning how to use another material with new properties was great.
I think I snapped about 50 piercing saw blades to cut one tiny shape out of some scrap copper. But I really enjoyed using new tools and seeing the potential of metal combined with fabric (I made a cufflink to pin together a section of pleated shirt sleeve for this project). My MA focused on how I could apply my textiles to the body and how they respond to movement. So perhaps this seed of how jewellery can also be worn started there.
Jewellery actually came back into my life after my first son was born; I was feeling fairly disillusioned at that point with the textiles industry and also taking some time out for maternity leave, but I desperately needed to keep making for my sanity! I began sewing into leather bag straps and embroidering quick collages I’d been creating for design inspiration.
Before long I was embroidering smaller pieces that I made into earrings and necklaces. Working on smaller pieces allowed me to take it anywhere in the house and pick up as and when. This is the opposite of a screen print, which won’t wait around! I quickly fell in love with working smaller, but with an application that still allows for a great amount of play and investigation.
What is it about fabrics and textiles that you love so much?
I just love anything tactile, and how innovative you can be with technique, colour and how you use the fabrics.
I also teach textiles and I absolutely love seeing students develop their own textiles practice with an individual aesthetic. Creating fabric and textiles is almost a universal language and the history of it’s absolutely fascinating. I can’t keep fully away from fabric designing though (I also create small collections of scarves that translate patterns and colour combinations found in my jewellery pieces). I enjoy working across both, as it keeps both fresh.
Where do you create your jewellery?
I create work in my designated work space at home in Yorkshire. As much as I would love a studio space, at the moment this works well for me in terms of fitting around family life! I can escape up to my room whenever I get a spare moment, or my children are in nursery/preschool.
Where did you learn how to create jewellery?
A lot of my jewellery comes from experimenting with materials and embroidery techniques; something I’ve done since my art foundation course really. The silversmithing side has come from a couple of hours one to one tutoring with a local jeweller. She helped me learn how to cut and form brass (as I knew I wanted it to serve this specific function in contrast with wood and leather I was working with at the time).
I then went onto seek out information on other techniques I wanted to look at. So most of my silversmithing practice comes mostly from being self-taught (YouTube is a wonderful thing!), and asking patient jeweller friends!
I do cringe a little if someone refers to me as a ‘jeweller’ because I definitely don’t see that I am. I just see that I make textile-based jewellery (where the metal work enables me to add elements that make it wearable). Or offer the piece more contrast and/or a different aesthetic.
What’s the favourite piece in your jewellery collection?
I’m currently really enjoying making my brooches. I love seeing how so many elements can come together and be worn. I’m in the process of making smaller versions that will be light enough to be worn as earrings too. Which is exciting.
I also like my flocked collection of earrings. It’s the contrast of the oxidised brass and the bright, tactile sections of fibres. I just want to stroke them all the time!
If you weren’t a jewellery designer, what would you be?
Well, my other job is a textiles tutor, so possibly that. But I believe you can’t effectively teach a creative subject unless you create work yourself and keep up to date with what is going on contextually around you. If I didn’t go back to fabric designing (or have this) then I might have had a break from teaching too.
A few years ago I genuinely wanted to look into training in alternative therapies and almost booked onto a reflexology course, before admitting to myself I actually hate feet! If I left the creative world, I think I’d have gone back to university to learn acupuncture instead. I still find it really interesting.
What’s your proudest moment of being a Jewellery Designer?
I’ve been really overwhelmed with things that I’ve achieved in such a short space of time. I’ve only been creating jewellery for two years, and I’ve exhibited at some amazing fairs, won best newcomer at BCTF and forged some amazing relationships with customers and stockists. So when I have down days where things are going wrong, I try really hard to think about all this and feel proud of myself for doing it. Especially as I have two very small boys to wrangle at the same time!
I think though, that getting onto this year’s Craft Council Hothouse programme is my proudest achievement of my jewellery design phase of my career. It’s such a dream come true and I cannot wait to get started in February.
What’s your design process?
I’m a bit erratic. I tend to start with one material, then dig through my stash to see what would work well with it. I work across pieces a lot, usually due to the drying/pressing time required. So when I have some flocked hoops dangling to dry, I’ll be hacking into some lino or stitching into a completed base. I like working in this way as it stops me getting bored!
What do you love about jewellery?
The versatile nature of it!
What are your aspirations for your business?
I have some wonderful UK galleries and stockists, but I’d love to begin to also stock my work in places in the EU and beyond. Since visiting Belgium nine years ago I just fell in love with their approach to art and design – the Royal Academy of Fine Arts fashion course is just my absolute favourite course to track progress of in the whole world.
So having work in a gallery in Antwerp (for example) would be amazing. I would just like to be able to continually evolve my work and develop my skills; I don’t like to stay too still for long, as I’m always itching to try new things.
Who’s the most important person in your life and why?
Aside from my boys, I have to be a bit mushy and say my husband Dan. I wouldn’t be doing all this now if he hadn’t been there to support me and push me to follow my dreams.
The poor thing ‘s often my only sounding board when I’m in the thick of it. He’s a really helpful, calming person to get objective opinions from. I think I knew it was true love when, at university, he helped me hand cut about four million triangles out of balsa wood. Unfortunately I barely ended up using them!
I’m really, really lucky to have such an amazing network – made up of family members and friends who are all equally important to me, in different ways.
Where do you feel most inspired?
I have one of those annoying minds that will be just getting on with day to day things when an idea will descend on me. So I have to write things down immediately, otherwise I’ll forget.
I can be literally anywhere and inspiration will come. Frustratingly, when I go somewhere to go specifically get inspired, I rarely do. I just like to take things in!
What inspires you?
Often I find inspiration in anything with a pattern, finding exciting colour combinations and talking to creative friends. I’m a huge Bauhaus fan. I could probably spend all day looking at the work of most of the students that attended that school.
I’m also a big fan of Japanese textiles and how they so brilliantly use their machinery and fibres to create such incredible, sculptural work.
Something else I love to do is look through historic books on things such as embroidery, braiding, weaving, knotting techniques. I just find it all so fascinating how tactile surfaces can come from one length of thread.
How do you juggle all the different aspects of the job?
I think I’ll forever wing it! Maybe when my boys are at school I can get more structure into my working life. But for now every day is different, really. And I try to embrace that.