Student jeweller of the month for June – Neena Shilvock
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do
I have a day job that is far removed from anything creative, I am an obstetrician and gynaecologist and have been a consultant at a hospital in the Midlands for twenty years. About seven years ago, after a devastating bereavement, I looked for a form of distraction therapy and found my love for jewellery making. At first, I went to a class at the local college, which actually put me off as it was too crowded and I found using the saw and learning how to solder very difficult in that setting. I later found another school, where the setting was more intimate and there were fewer pupils, but I have yet to go back to the jewellers saw after that initial traumatic experience.
The need to escape the saw took me towards wirework and metal clay, polymer clay and resin, as well as beading and soutache. but I have accepted that I will have to bite the bullet at some stage as my interests have leaned towards fold forming and soldering – it seems silly now to be so anxious about something that is potentially going to change the way I design and make my jewellery.
What’s been your general career path?
I like to make large statement necklaces and also like to make a few of the elements in each piece myself. I make pendants, beads and clasps of various different materials and incorporate them into my jewellery.
I started with a small client base, and have gradually increased it and would like to see it grow bigger. As I see it, there must be women out there like me, who like to wear big, bold and beautiful jewellery, and I’m the woman to make it for them.
I’ve written tutorials for Bead and Jewellery Magazine for a couple of years and found that process quite interesting, I’m used to teaching in my day job, but capturing a process in its totality using a camera was new to me.
I wrote my own website and update it regularly myself. I take my own photographs, having been to a couple of photography classes to learn how to use my camera and have recently begun to use live models to display some of my pieces.
When did your interest in jewellery making start?
I’ve always loved jewellery and was encouraged in this passion by my mother. When I saw a jewellery making class advertised at the local college I jumped at the chance, although I had gone to the open day with the intention of learning a language. Since then I’ve become so absorbed by jewellery making that I seem to be engaged in it one way or another every spare moment I have. Every room in my house has certainly been taken over by beads and jewellery making paraphernalia.
Which class/es did you take at the London Jewellery School and why did you choose that class?
I went to the soutache class one year as I am always looking for a way to add colour to my pieces, and to make my own components. The next year saw me developing an interest in metalsmithing and fold forming, and I decided to learn how to solder and took a soldering class which gave me the confidence to go away and try it out for myself.
What are your goals for the future?
I’d like to find a client base of ‘sophisticated extroverts’ and be stocked in boutiques and art galleries, worn by celebrities and be a well-known name in the world of statement jewellery, although I would like to make mainly one-off or limited edition pieces. I’d like to work with semi-precious gemstones and have my jewellery worn with pleasure by discerning women who are unafraid to be stand up and be counted.
What is your favourite piece you ever made and why?
I made a piece called Dew Fairy Dreams (see left) – it had my favourite ginkgo leaves that I made in Faux jade out of polymer clay, wirework and was very pretty. It was entirely my own design and I found the name from a poem, because of the pearls that were sprinkled through the piece like dew drops. The poet, when I asked his permission to use the name loved my necklace and agreed readily, which was very encouraging
A selection of Neena’s work is currently on display at the London Jewellery School
See more of Neena’s work
Shop link – https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/CapriliciousJewelry
Facebook business page – https://www.facebook.com/CapriliciousJewellery
Twitter – https://twitter.com/nshilv