Designer of the Month – Jenny Gartside

Jewellery maker Jenny Gartside has a love of using gemstones and taking her inspiration from nature. Learn more about this month’s Designer of the Month below

Let us know a bit about yourself, detailing your background, study and training in the jewellery making industry.

I’m a jeweller and printmaker from Buxton in the Peak District. I’m also a wife, mum and trombonist – having been a member of my local brass band (Burbage Band, Buxton) for over 10 years. Music is a family hobby, so along with my husband and son we have racked up over 71 years of brass band experience between us!

I’m also a member of the High Peak Artists Association, a collectively run group of over 40 local artists who run The Gallery in the Gardens (Buxton), I have been a member for 5 years selling my jewellery and as of spring 2020 I exhibit as a printmaker too, selling engraved copperplate and drypoint prints.

I also exhibit my work further afield, having exhibited twice in the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Miniature Artists, Sculptors and Gravers held at the Mall Galleries in London, as well as in local annual exhibitions including, the Stockport Open Art Exhibition, the Derbyshire Open Exhibition, and the Buxton Spa Prize Exhibition.
This year was particularly exciting as I had a silver daffodil sculpture selected for the Society of Botanical Artists Annual Exhibition an exhibition which I have never entered before.

Tell us about your work – are there any particular materials or techniques that you favour?

I like working in silver mostly, with a little copper and bronze thrown in for good measure, and occasionally recycled steel. I often use gemstones in my work, with peridot being a particular favourite to work with because I love the rich green colour. I also love engraving items using a handheld graver, I also like to use chasing and repousse on copper items, such as bowls.

Riveting is a cold joining technique which I am using a lot more in my pieces, I find it helps to eliminate some of the problems associated with soldering such as the softening of metal or fire-scale, riveting can be integral to the design of the piece but also decorative too, an example being my double flower pendant which is held together with five rivets which also make up the stamen, so no heat was used in this piece at all! (the chain is also attached with a riveted hoop of wire).

How would you best describe your design style?

Varied! I tend towards natural themes, using leaf patterns and shapes, or engraving pictures of birds and flowers onto jewellery. I feel that my signature style / pieces are my silver square range which are set with gemstones and have a rough, rusty hammer textured background, these have always been popular with customers, but I also just love the look of the finished product too, so I end up making them a lot!

Where do you like to get your inspiration from for your pieces?

This mostly comes from the natural world as I always have my camera at the ready when out walking so that I can capture new and interesting textures, shapes or patterns to replicate on jewellery at home. A lot of leaves, twigs, bark, seeds and feathers make their way home for work, either on my camera roll or in my pockets! I also get inspiration from the ancient world, I find Viking and Saxon jewellery absolutely fascinating, and I sometimes create pieces in this style.

Do you have a piece that you have made which you favour or are particularly proud of?

I think my best piece is probably my miniature daffodil sculpture in silver. This piece was accepted this year into the Society of Botanical Artists exhibition, sadly the exhibition couldn’t go ahead at the Mall Galleries in London as planned due to the national lockdown, but it did go ahead online! It was very exciting to have this piece chosen for the exhibition, and it has inspired me to enter the exhibition again next year.

What is the one item in your jewellery making workshop that you could not live without?

This would be my handheld graver which I use a lot! Not only do I engrave jewellery with it I also use this for my copperplate printing.

What upcoming trends do you see being popular soon?

I think interactive wedding and engagement ring making will become more popular, as people are always looking for ways to make this most personal occasions really unique. This is something that I now offer as a class from my workshop, and it can be a lot of fun for people to make such special items together.

I also think that the use of recycled materials in jewellery may become more popular as we become more aware of climate change and other environmental issues, I have a range which I make from used steel tin cans, and I label it as such and these designs have often sold just as well as their silver counterparts. I think design is often valued over material, so couple this with some strong eco – credentials and you have quite a desirable product!

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt from your time in the jewellery making industry?

Keep learning! Even though my first jewellery class was over sixteen years ago, I still love to attend courses, if I spot something new that I haven’t tried before I will often go to great lengths to do this, I have travelled as far north as Scotland for a course in chasing and repousse, and as far south as West Sussex for a course in traditional hand engraving!

Do you have any particular advice that you would give to up and coming jewellery designers, or someone interested in getting into jewellery making?

If you are thinking of getting into jewellery making, – go for it, it is so much fun! If you are already a jeweller but new to it, keep experimenting with styles and processes. While a strong style is often a good ultimate aim, you shouldn’t be afraid to juggle a mosaic of styles first before you find the one that suits you. I still don’t have just one style and I’ve been making jewellery for almost half of my life!

Keep learning too, it doesn’t always need to be costly or time consuming, there are so many great free online tutorials available now.

Finally, time for a bit of fun in our quick-fire round!

Tell us your favourite…

Colour – None in particular, I like them all!
Biscuit – Mcvities orange club
Drink – Earl grey tea with milk
Place – Monsal Dale in Derbyshire, I have always been attracted to this place as it is so beautiful and calming, and I have walked it countless times. My husband proposed to me here one bright autumn day in 2018, and it is also the place we have chosen to have our ashes scattered when we are gone.
Animal – Swallows, I love watching their fluid, twisting flight patterns in the sky, and their amazing speeds, and the sounds! I never tire of watching and listening to them, they make their way into my work quite often!
Gemstone – Peridot, I love the beautiful, bright green colour.
Food – All of it!
Sport – Outdoor swimming, especially in winter….brrr!
Film – None! I see watching films as a waste of my precious time! I only have so much time on this planet and I’m not going to waste any of it watching silly old films! (… I do like the occasional documentary or retro comedy series though!)
City –
Sheffield, I see it a beautiful, green and friendly city, it is the place where I first learned silversmithing and jewellery making many years ago, it is also where my son was born – two things that have brought me so much joy! (I even determinedly attended my first year of jewellery college while pregnant, and the second year of it as a new Mother!)

Many thanks to Jenny for being our Designer of the Month this month and for sharing this information

For more details on Jennys work, you can visit her website, or feel free to check out her Facebook or Instagram page.

Want to discover the work of other jewellery makers?

Take a look at our interviews with even more Designers of the Month to learn more about their designs, inspiration and more.

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