Gower Silversmith Pa-pa
As a child I used to make jewellery from beads and parts from my Grandmother's old watches. 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. After studying Art and Design at Swansea Institute, I furthered my studies at Plymouth college of Art in metalwork and 3D Design. After qualifying in 1992, I worked for a jewellery manufacturer in Surrey. Uninspired by mass production and having little creative input there I came home to set up a small workshop of my own at home in Swansea, South Wales.
How I make my creations
I have a few different methods of working. I use wire and sheet silver to form the 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 welltrodden 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 hacksaw, I am confident enough to saw an 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 and 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, drawing or drilling metal and then the next day I could be manipulating a soft material between my fingers in a very calming and spiritual way visualising the creature or form materializing in front of me.
How my surroundings influence me
The beauty of the Welsh coastline has been an endless source of inspiration for me. 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, peregrine falcons and even the occasional otter. The shapes and forms of rocks create beautiful patterns in the limestone cliffs and the ancient oak-lined coastal paths fringed with castles and caves are wonderful. Ancient burial grounds and huge stones stand as markers of Wales’s Celtic historical past along with tales of King Arthur.
Pa-pa Jewellery Gallery Parkmill, Gower.
In 2013 was lucky enough to acquire a small space in the Old stone 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 coloured scarves, gorgeous leather handbags, driftwood sculptures, shell art and paintings.
I hope my designs evoke found memories of Wales’s stunning beaches, coastal landscapes and marine life.
I have not been tempted to manufacture my jewellery in a third world country which is poverty stricken and where the human rights record is appalling. Instead I have chosen to source my materials and tools to create my designs solely in the U.K.
My unique jewellery designs in silver and gold are inspired by my study of marine life, the colours and shapes of the rocks; discarded shells and other life forms created by the ocean's movements have always been a great fascination for me. A lover of the sea, I spend much of my time surfing or diving the rocky outcrops of the Gower bays and walking the country paths of the Gower with my family.
I firmly support the conservation of marine life and endeavor to highlight the diversity and delicate fabric of wildlife in our seas that is threatened by over fishing, habitation and climate change.
Shells and shell products are sourced predominantly as a by-product of the food industry in the country of origin or collected locally from naturally sustainable resources.
I now use recycled sterling silver sheet and sterling silver wire in my designs which I buy from a supplier in Birmingham. Made of 100% recycled and scrap silver products. Most of the Pa-pa packaging boxes are made from recycled plastic which are said to be made here in the Uk. Bioplastic is a new material made from a renewable, plant-derived, source. Being made from natural materials the boxes are completely bio-degradable and will decompose following continued exposure to the elements for a few months.
Prices for gold designs may change according to daily price fluctuations. Pa-pa’s Gold is purchased from a registered FLO-CERT Company ensuring certification of fairtrade gold providing small scale workers in developing countries with strict standards of working conditions, child labour, health and safety, chemical control and environmental responsibility.
I see my work as celebration of the beauty of these natural habitats and believe that my jewellery will appeal to anyone with a love and respect for the sea.