Jewellery making involves many stages, and from initial concept to finished piece it takes skill honed over many years to perfect each design. Michele White says she sees herself as an artist as much as a jeweller. It is no surprise to find she is Vice President of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, an organisation which has a rich heritage in terms of both jewellery and the wider artistic life of the city. The Society membership has included key jewellers and enamellers such as Kate Eadie and Georgie Gaskin, and to this day features leading artists, designers, sculptors, ceramicists and printmakers all working across a range of media.
Work by Arts and Crafts jeweller Georgie Gaskin Photo ©Birmingham Museums TrustBirmingham was the centre of Britain's jewellery trade, and the birthplace of the Arts and Crafts movement, which placed an emphasis on craftsmanship and forms taken from the natural world. Both Eadie and Gaskin studied at the Birmingham Municipal School of Art and were artists long before they were jewellers.
A modern jewellerMichele is carrying on this tradition, and also looks to the natural world for inspiration. Of her own process, she says:
‘I always start off with a drawing. That’s always first. A single piece can take weeks, and there is no thinking of end purpose, I just work from my initial idea and let concepts develop. In that way, I am much more of an artist.’