Inkylinky by Liz Samways

After several years away, Liz Samways is back at Design@HEART this year, and we can’t wait to see her new jewellery and prints.

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I’m a Leeds-based jeweller and printmaker, working primarily in silver and copper which is etched & engraved using techniques commonly found in printmaking. My work is inspired by the landscape, as viewed on a flat plane through the train window and aerial views, and is influenced by English landscape painters, printmakers, & surface-pattern designers, as well as my background in garden design. I love the textures, mark-making and unpredictability of the printmaking techniques I use, which I also translate into my jewellery and metal pictures to make pieces which will never be identical.

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Where appropriate, I like to add colour using traditional materials – patination recipes, vitreous enamels, and sepia ink. Exploring the chemistry of these processes in itself provides inspiration which means life is never dull!

 

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“Probably the thing I enjoy most is playing” Liz Samways talks jewellery and printmaking

Liz Samways’ work will be familiar to those of you who’ve been coming to craft fairs at HEART for a while. A jeweller and print maker, her work reflects her love of landscape and the natural world.   We caught up with her to find out how she got started and her practice.

I’ve always wanted to be a jeweller, ever since visiting Camden Market in my teens and seeing all the jeweller types who had lifestyles which seemed very exotic. While I was doing my ‘real’ jobs it was always there in the background. When my youngest child had gone to nursery I thought I would give it a go professionally.

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Before then I had studies History of Art as my first degree, worked in industrical canteens, factories, Asprey on Bond Street, an Estate Agency, in sales and marketing for Royal Mail, and then retrained in horticulture and garden design and as an ESOL teacher. Quite a list!

To a certain extent I’m self taught, but I did evening classes at Leeds College of Art and Swarthmore with Roger Barnes, during the mid-nineties for jewellery, more recently weekend workshops for printmaking. There’s also been a lot of helpful friends offering technical advice and suggestions along the way.

My first makers’ fair was back in 2011. It was quite a landmark, taking my work out there to the public. Since then, there’s been many more memorable moments: getting my work accepted ito the Craft & Design Gallery in Leeds, where for years I had admired other people’s work, and later being invited to take part in their “Walk In The Park” exhibition. Driving over the hills from Skipton back to Leeds after my first “Art In The Pen” event, having met loads of enthusiastic customers, having fellow makers as good friends, and realising I had finally become the sort of person I’d seen at events when I went as a customer; and my first trade fair which was incredibly daunting, but with a lot of help and advice from other makers I managed it and did well.

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The most important consideration for me, when designing a piece of jewellery, is wearability! Will the piece stay the ‘right way up’ for instance, in the case of bangles or stud earrings, ….how will it wear over time? Will it feel comfortable on the body? Also, Will it look good up close and from a distance? Is it something I haven’t seen before? Can I see my customer (we should all have one in our mind’s eye) wearing it? And of course, very importantly, is it within my technical capabilities?!

I use engraving, etching and rolling to make the textures in the metals I use, then cut and solder to layer together. Although I do work things out in sketchbooks, I find a lot ends up as lists of words! (working out technical details and the order in which to work). I hardly ever sketch out a finished design which I work towards, it’s usually a more random process. Often I just have bits of cut up and textured metal around me and I play around putting shapes together till something looks good – I maintain that this is a legitimate design technique as I learnt it through my garden design training! To finish the piece and add the darkness I like, I use traditional patination techniques, selectively polished for contrast, and sealed with a wax.

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For the enamelling I use a small kiln and build up layers and layers of colour in various combinations, remembering to make notes as, although I use a lot of different colours, they come from a fairly limited and subtle palette so it’s easy to forget what I’ve used! I work in much the same way as I build layers of ink in prints, through overlapping, masking, and sometimes adding in other elements such as metal leaf or wire.

Probably the thing I enjoy most is playing around! The fact that inspiration is everywhere and I have a legitimate business reason for experimenting with shapes and textures, learning new techniques and meeting lots of other creative people.
The thing I’m not so keen on is juggling orders and the logistics of producing several pieces at the same time, though my experience working in various factories in my youth comes in surprisingly handy when planning my working processes.

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I started off because I’m a terrible magpie and I wanted to make things for myself. It was later that it developed into something I thought I could make a successful business out of. I love working in print and jewellery because there are so many ways they influence each other, and I constantly have ideas working both ways. I love the unpredictability of the surfaces involved in both processes.

I started the business to justify how many tools I’d bought!

Our next fair is only 9 weeks away, and there’s so much lovely stuff from very talented artists and craftspeople.  So for the next few weeks, we’ll be handing over the blog to some of them, to tell us about themselves and their work.  Today, Helen Drye of Silver and Stone Jewellery Design talks about her art work and her business.

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I started Silver and Stone Jewellery Design in July 2012. I did the classic, turning a hobby into a business. I often say it was to justify how many tools I’d bought – if you craft you’ll understand! I love teaching people, it gives me a wonderful sense of pride that people can have a mini ‘retreat’, close off from the outside world and create something stunning. When I’m not creating jewellery and teaching a like to do embroidery. Just small pieces and very free style, but it keeps my fingers occupied!

My studio used to be at home, but I’d get an idea in the middle of the night and get up and make it! Now its near home, but far enough that I can’t sneak off. Its just next to Skipwith Common Nature Reserve, a beautiful woodland and common land, with rare breads roaming around. You can wander through the common and see deer, black sheep, and then have a pony walk in front of you! It is truly stunning, but shhhh – don’t tell anyone. You’ll see the trees in my designs, to me there is something mystical about the Common. This area has been common land for centuries, but during the second world war it was a RAF training base. You can still see some of the remains, but the trees are reclaiming their land.

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I produce silver jewellery, primarily made using precious metal clay, a silver that can be moulded before its fired, and becomes 99.9% silver, known as fine silver. Silver and Stone reflects the main materials I use, silver obviously, but gemstones come into my designs too. Labradorite and moonstone in the main, but others sneak in when I’m teaching. You’ll see my logo features a big heart with hearts inside – I just love what I do!

I started my career in local government and I loved it. I was developing businesses and each day was different. I helped lots of people start their own business, and always knew I’d have a business of my own. When I had my daughter I went back to work, but found I also had a lot of evening meetings. One day I realised I was passing her from one set of childcare to another, and so I left, just like that! It was hard, but I’m a believer in following your heart, and I don’t regret it.

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Most of my jewellery design was self taught. I did do some classes originally, but then decided to develop my own skills, mainly because the classes were expensive and I couldn’t afford them. I still invest in my own development – I love doing classes with other crafts and see what I can transfer into metal clay, and love meeting and taking part in classes with people throughout the world. I am certified to teach by both Art Clay and Precious Metal Clay. Not many people can say that!
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I love being my own boss. There’s no office politics, and no one else to please. My deadlines are my own and my plans are my own. I can have creative time out or get stuck into my accounts. If my daughter is unwell, I can drop everything and be there for her. I thought I’d be lonely working for myself, but I’m not. I like my own company, and when I run workshops, I have lots of interaction and lots of laughs with the students.

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My favourite materials are Precious metal clay – the Flex version. It relatively new, but I can use it for lots of techniques, that are a bit quirky. Not many people use it to its full capacity – I’m aiming to ! Its the only metal clay you can dry to create a paper style silver which is easy to bend and flex, to create something unique.

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My ambitions for the future? I’d like to be seen as a master teacher and have taught in USA and Europe. I’d like to have a range of jewellery in a number or high end galleries and museums. I’d also really like to have my eyesight to be able to do all of those things.

Silver and Stone Jewellery Design will be at Design@HEART’s summer fair on 9th June 2018 10am-4pm at HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Headingley, Leeds LS6 3HN.