I work mainly in sterling silver, with some copper and brass as well as aluminium and gold-leaf. In the past I was shy of precious and semi-precious stones, and worked entirely with sea-glass and china collected from beaches in Cornwall. I still use these, but I now also use semi-precious stones too.
Most recently, I’ve been setting rough found stones alongside highly polished precious ones; I love the contrast. For the same reason, I’ve been using rich semi-precious beads in the same necklaces as pieces of found wood.
Using gold-leaf is also a recent development. This isn’t conventionally used in jewellery; it’s what bookbinders use in gold-tooling, and it’s so light you have to hold your breath while working with it, as it will quite literally blow away. I’ve been adding it to pieces of brightly coloured aluminium and using the results in earrings.
The style of my work is bold and tactile, and I enjoy contrasting textures and asymmetry, and I like the handmade nature of the pieces to be visible. This applies particularly to my necklaces: I make the chains for almost all of them entirely by hand, creating each link individually, so that no two are the same.
I originally trained and worked as a bookbinder, in London and then in Norfolk, until my studio became the casualty of an elaborate series of house moves: binding equipment is extremely large and heavy (a lot of it is Victorian and made of cast iron), and transporting it around the country and finding space for it both became too difficult.
While in Bristol, though, I was able to start silversmithing classes – something I’d always wanted to try – and quickly became hooked, acquiring my own tools and turning a tiny single bedroom into a workspace. Jewellery is on a much smaller scale than binding, and that also meant that moving everything first to Chipping Norton and then to Banbury was relatively unproblematic.
I like to remember bookbinding techniques in my jewellery – it’s for that reason I’ve started using gold-leaf and even leather in some of my work. I’ve also been able to bind again occasionally, and last year made a binding incorporating some handmade silver chain. I’d like to explore further how to turn books into jewellery – and perhaps jewellery into books!
The name of my website, Poet & Cat, reflects my other life as a writer (see https://www.bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/category/jane-griffiths) and the loyal companionship of my two British Blue rescue cats, Smokey and Tirzah.