An interview with local artisan jeweler Jodie Hansen
by Seren Kiremitcioglu
Red anemone ring. Photo Credit Jodie Hansen
Hi Jodie! Thank you for agreeing to chat. For those readers who may not know you, how would you sum yourself up?
Hi! I am a Plymouth based Designer Maker specialising in mixed media jewellery, that’s how I would sum it up in terms of my work. Otherwise I would say I am a creative, a bit of a dreamer, and a lover of nature, constantly drawn to slowing down and staying connected despite everything around becoming faster. Making for me is a way of staying grounded and exploring and expressing myself and my surroundings in a creative way.
What initially drew you towards jewellery making, and when did you know that this was the career for you?
It just started as a hobby. I was living in Jersey working in the hospitality trade and a friend inspired me to come along to evening jewellery making classes. I’ve always been very creative growing up, so going to these classes made me reconnect to my creativity. I fell in love with the making processes and working with small scale metals. When I moved to Plymouth 7 years ago, I discovered Plymouth College of Arts and decided to enrol on their Contemporary Crafts degree, specializing in Jewellery and Metalsmithing
Leather crimp necklace Photo Credit Jodie Hansen
Cocoon earrings Natural Photo Credit Jodie Hansen
What’s the biggest thing that inspires you over anything else?
That’s a tricky question, many things inspire me and I often find it hard to stick to one thing. I really love experimenting and discovering new processes, so it’s a mix of nature and my surroundings as well as being intrigued by materials (mainly metals and textiles). I naturally love organic shapes and colours which shows in my work, and I love to integrate different materials like metal, which is sturdy and solid, and textiles, which are softer, more malleable, and also allow me to integrate different colour schemes into my designs. For me, being creative means to allow yourself to be playful and curious.
What would you say are the main influences for your work?
My aim is to combine natural and traditional techniques and materials and to explore ways to integrate them into interesting and contemporary jewellery pieces. I like my work to have a strong emphasis on creative expression and at the same time be wearable.
A lot of my inspiration comes from observing my surroundings (especially nature) as well as researching and trying processes and materials that interest me. I tan my own fish leather using traditional and natural tanning techniques. With the silk cocoons that I use in my designs, I dye them using fabric dye and more recently natural dyes like onion skins and rosehips, which give interesting and often surprising natural colours. Both my leather and cocoon work started from an interest into the materials and processes, from there reflection and experimentation led me to discovering my jewellery designs trying to create unique pieces, which I like to be visually pleasing and tactile. Also loving nature, I try to work in a sustainable way that doesn’t leave a big mark on the environment. So I use natural processes and recycled materials as much as possible.
Coral necklace square Photo Credit Jodie Hansen
Yellow anemone ring. Photo Credit Jodie Hansen
How have people responded to your work since its beginning?
There is a variety of responses to my work and I find it really interesting to observe people’s reactions. Most people are intrigued, especially by the use of unexpected materials like naturally tanned fish leather and silk cocoons. Some people react with a childlike curiosity, wanting to touch and feel the pieces and materials, others are a bit more apprehensive about the fish leather (which looks a lot like snake skin) and about the perceived fragility of some of the materials (especially the cocoons) which are sturdier then they seem. A lot of people said my work is pretty unusual and unique, which is nice to hear.
What are the biggest highlights of the work you do?
Being able to be creative and observant, to constantly learn and express myself through experimentation and play. Doing something I love and being part of a great community of makers and creatives.
Would you encourage people to support local artists over big brands, and why?
Yes for sure. Buying big brands often supports a system of exploiting people and the planet. The industrialized system we have created allows us to buy material things in abundance often for very cheap, but in order for us to sustain this material abundance, people and nature are being exploited. We have become very disconnected from where things come from and how they are produced, happily turning a blind eye to the story behind the things we buy. But I think there is an increasing awareness and a growing desire for reconnecting and making more sustainable choices. Buying local means valuing not only the thing you buy but the story of where it comes from; it means supporting people and the local economy.
Finally; where can people find and support your work?
I have a website and I am currently working on establishing some online selling platforms which will be linked to my website. I also have a studio at Flameworks (which is a local studio community) so people can see me and my work there. We hold regular open studios and the dates can be found via the Flameworks website
Cocoon necklace Photo Credit Jodie Hansen