The Story Behind My Techniques

My jewellery is most recognisable by the way I work with wire. The technique I use for my pieces is completely invented by me, and most of my wiring techniques are patented. In total, I have about three types of base techniques that I use for the setting of a stone for Conversation Pieces, on which I will elaborate in this blog post. In my Arty Scenes collection, I work differently. For the pieces in this collection, I combine techniques, as each piece is a spawn of my current feeling or mood. Within Arty Scenes, there are no restrictions in design that I lay upon myself.  

So, how did I come up with the technique that marks my artwork? 

Like most passions in an artist's life, the inspiration behind my art stems back from my childhood. When my parents took me on trips as a little girl, we often visited museums and archeological sites. History fascinated me greatly, and it does to this day. One time, in France, we visited a museum on medieval history which is where I saw some remains of a fabric from centuries ago. I was perplexed - how could a piece of fabric exist for hundreds of years? How could a weaving technique be this strong and dateless, have survived for such a long time? It spoke to me.

I was instantly and endlessly fascinated by the beauty of fabrics, and by their imperishable and enduring qualities.

So, when I started creating my own jewellery for the first time, it was no surprise that I turned to cord and textile wire to turn my findings into jewellery. I used to work with washed up finds from the shores of lake Geneva, where I spent a large part of my life, next to living in London. I used animal remains, drift woods, pieces of glass... to make a statement against the pollution of nature. My first instinct was to wrap them up using cord and threads of fabric, and even cut up leather trousers laying around in my house.

Over the years, I developed my techniques and I started working with sterling silver wire and gold wire instead of leather and yarn. However, my connection to weaving techniques has never perished. Each setting I use for my pieces nowadays, is inspired by the texture of fabrics and its almost paradoxical nature, without using a wiring technique that just any jewellery maker could employ. I wanted to create my own style, completely independent from what other people had already invented and I felt a need to have a somewhat rough, primitive finish, that clearly hints to my autodidact and original process.

 

  

 

My First Settings: Possessions, Conscious and Embrace

That is how the setting Possessions was born, out of a love for fabrics. This setting (which I use quite often) shows my interpretation of open woven fabrics or a certain type of lace. Possessions will always be a reflection of my current mood, freely woven, sometimes more raw and enlarged, and sometimes in a much finer pattern.

Another setting that is directly inspired by fabrics, is Conscious. For this technique, I was first inspired by archeological finds in fabric, and much later in life, by a very great friend with a weaving loom. The Conscious technique is my interpretation of fabric made with a weaving loom, albeit in metal wire and with a raw finish. Conscious and Possessions are completely invented by me, and they are patented in large parts of the world. 

As the ring in the third picture shows, my oldest setting called Embrace was generally meant to be more elegant and simple. It has a less rough look to it, as it subtly wraps a stone into wire. This setting has a calmer and almost classic look, so it enables the stone to get the attention it deserves. 

Dreamer, Concerto and Treats 

Having invented these three settings, I continued experimenting with wiring techniques, out of a need for a change. Next to the symbiosis between a stone and its setting, the form of the jewel became a lot more prevalent. This is most evident in rings like Eye of the beholder, Wonderful, Come What may and Heavy Weight.

Dreamer is one of my newest settings, and it's a twist on my embrace series. As an artist, I always want to reinvent myself. When I created this setting, I took a stone and started to experimenting, searching for another classic look. I started winding wire and created a technique that seems almost illogical at first sight, as the wire wraps around your finger and over the stone. Dreamer got its name as I am the truest of daydreamer you could be thinking of, and my mind seems to drift off quite often...

Another new setting is called Concerto. It looks much like possessions at first sight, but I added soft spiky shapes in wire to resemble different tones in music. This design seems a bit messy, and it's my interpretation of my mood in music. The first two rings in this series are called Symphony and Overture . Both rings remind me of the complexity of classical music. 

I created another series that is a twist on Possessions, and it's called Treats. In contrast to the Concerto technique, I used soft loops instead of spikes. The rings with the Treats technique have a much sweeter, candy-like vibe. My first ring with this setting is called Dots, and is available on 1stdibs. 

 

Scyths, Adore and Substantial

A technique called Scyths yields very airy and open loop like settings. I was inspired by an exhibition about the Scythians that I visited in the 1990's in de Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam. The Schythians are a nomadic people that were famous for their gold smithing techniques, and the amazons are said to have been related to them... The ring in the picture is my ring Huntress, and another ring with this setting is Cross Over.

Adore is inspired by my love for flowers. Each ring has multiple stones. There is a variety of shapes available, whatever my mood but they are quite colourful.

Finally, I invented Substantial. This powerful design is characterised by big chunks of stones, combining possessions together with a cross-like setting. Rings with the Substantial setting are often stronger in style and a little heavier than my other rings, but I've also made a few with smaller rings with this setting. All in all, the look and feel is raw and close to nature. 

All these settings come within collection ‘Conversation Pieces’. Raw, free flow, with their unintentional bit of glamour which has become my brand dna.

 

Fascination

In my ‘Arty Scenes’ collection I combine a lot more techniques in creating my larger, my most sculpture like shapes. Inspired by my moods, our world, by dreams or by more Earthy issues that matter to me. The shape in series Fascination is based on my childhood dreams, these fantasies were about the universe, outer space and its secrets. The rings and necklaces have large orb-like constellations, reminding me of Saturn's rings and comets. The raw stones often sparkle like stars, and they're said to carry energy.

 

As you can see, the stories behind my settings are plentiful. I started out with three settings, for my collection ‘Conversation Pieces’, my most (unintentional) glamorous pieces. For the collection ‘Arty Scenes’, my true artworks, I feel the urge to express myself even more. In these wearable art sculptures I combine many of my techniques to create a form or shape and where it’s really more about an idea or about a situation that bothers me. 

I've never been fond of labels and clear demarcations too much but I felt the need to explain just a part of me to you and to make my work speak to you too -- I try to blur the lines between jewellery and art, and between wearable and unwearable.

Thank you for reading my blog! I hope you now have a clearer picture of who I am as an artist and creator, and what goes on in my mind when I create my pieces. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at info@sheilawestera.com.

 

Which Style do you like most? Please leave a comment below!

 

Comments

  • Posted by Louisa Martin on

    I love them all. Treats is adorable. You are extremely talented Sheila x

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