Gower silversmith. My inspiration and How it's made.

Posted by Phillippa Davies on

As a child I used to make jewellery from beads and parts from my Grandmother's old watches. At school I was one of just three girls who chose metalwork over Needlework lessons and I remember coming top of the class for a copper-enamelling Project. I loved painting and clay sculpture and when I realised after my A-levels that I could combine sculpture with jewellery design I was set on my path to become a silversmith.

Most of my work is inspired by a fascination for marine life and the sea I've always been intrigued by Nature. Subject matter over the last 20 years has included the swirling currents and sailing boats of Mumbles Head landscapes of Worms Head and Three Cliffs Bay, barrelling waves, starfish and shell jewellery and the work of poet Dylan Thomas. More recently I have tried to combine my growing interest in the Celts with my own contemporary style.  I also design and make bespoke wedding rings and engagement rings in silver and gold.

 How do I make your creations?

 I have a few different methods of working. I use wire and sheet silver to form shapes and lines of my designs. Wire can be filed to a point or bent with Pliers to create curls and swirls. Sheet metal can also be textured using special hammers to create the effect of well-trodden sand at the beach. It is fascinating to me how a hard material like metal can be manipulated to create such beautiful organic shapes.

 After 20 years of practice using a jeweller's hack so I am confident enough to saw and outline with as much precision as if I was drawing it like with a pencil. The Pa-pa mermaids, dolphins, seals and puffins I make initially in wax or clay and then cast them. I love the contrast and variety of what I do. One day I will be hammering away noisily, bending or drilling metal and then the next day I could be manipulating a soft material between my fingers I'm a very calming and spiritual way visualising the creature or form materializing in front of me.

How do my surroundings influence me?

 The beauty of the Welsh coastline offers an endless source of inspiration for me.  Evidence of hill top forts, ancient standing stones and burial sites of the Iron Age Celts on Gower surround the workshop. I spend all my free time walking, surfing, snorkelling or swimming here with my family and friends. Wales has an amazing variety of wildlife on the Gower Peninsula alone we often see seals and dolphins in the summer months, huge spider crabs and mermaid’s purses and even the occasional otter.  The shapes and forms of rocks create beautiful patterns in the limestone Cliffs in South Wales and our coastal paths are fringed with castles and caves. I've been to many places all around the world but for me Wales is coastline ticks all the boxes.

 A few years ago I was lucky enough to acquire a small space in the old stone cold hay barn just outside Gower heritage centre next to Three Cliffs Bay. It is a small and friendly gallery as well as my jewellery we sell sea coloured scarves, Driftwood art and paintings by local artists. Occasionally I take a few of my basic workshop tools to the Gallery and I offer jewellery metalsmithing demonstrations My aim is to evoke found memories of Wales stunning beaches coastal landscapes and marine life and Welsh history and culture.


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