Phoebe Sherwood-Moore is a jewellery designer-maker based in Lewes, East Sussex. With a love of beautiful but humorous pieces, her own creations showcase the beauty of using oak and precious metals together. This week I interviewed her to get an insight into the design process of her award-winning first collection.
How long have you been designing jewellery and what was it that led you into this career at first?
As far back as I can remember I have always loved making things and I remember spending summer holidays with a best friend endlessly filling sketch books with ideas for jewellery and fashion designs. It was at school I had my first taste of jewellery making and I loved it but was adamant at that point that I wanted to pursue a career in illustration. After completing my A-levels I spent some time traveling the world while working as a fashion model. I came back Sussex to study an art foundation at Brighton City College where I picked up metalwork again although I had originally intended to specialise in fine art. I later learnt to make jewellery the traditional way after enquiring at a local workshop where I landed on my feet by being offered work experience followed by teaching on the job. I worked there for five years, during which time they encouraged me to start my own collections in my own style. This is where a culmination of years’ worth of ideas and experiences came together and the Woodland collection came to life. Two years on, I run my business from my little studio in Lewes, where I am also teaching my assistant to make jewellery.
What made you decide to use the woodland as an inspiration for your award-winning first collection?
I've also always loved nature so I think it's hard not to design things that revolve around it. Inspiration is everywhere you look and I think some of the most pleasing forms are natural ones.
Deciding to use real oak in place of an acorn was an important part of the design process. It came from an acorn to start with before it grew into an tree. Oak has renewing properties and is a reminder of how all living things are part of the circle of life. The playful red squirrel silhouettes darting around the chain create a visual circle which is completed by the oak leaf shaped clasp. I chose squirrels because they're fun but also because they collect and store acorns for food, as a result, unwittingly planting new oak trees which will bare more acorns for their future generations.
Is there a reason that you chose to use silver for this collection and if so, do you feel a particular preference for silver over other precious metals?
Silver is a beautiful metal both to look at and work with. It is far more plentiful than gold which means although it is classed as a precious metal, it is much more affordable. I work with gold to commission but use gold plating within my collections so people can have the look of gold without the cost.
How do you feel oak and silver work together?
You get a wonderful contrast of colour and texture so they are very tactile and have a lovely weight.
What is your creative process when designing your collections?
Quite often I will be walking through beautiful countryside with my dogs and I'll see something that will spark an idea. I love it when I get that spark because other ideas usually bounce off it. Having said this, as silly as it sounds, I have also been known to design pieces to work with an outfit I have in mind. Once I have an idea I sketch and develop it. I study the subject matter and then then get to work on the prototype. More often than not, this involves sawing the shapes out of silver sheet but I also do wax carving and cast from the wax model.
What kind of jewellery do you like to wear?
I like to wear pieces which are beautiful but I love humour so something that makes me smile when I see it... which is something I strive to put into my own designs.
What can wearers and admirers of your jewellery expect from your future collections?
I am launching a new collection in September which is a playful but slightly darker take on another natural theme. It's called Moonlight and it features very cute bats, stars and of course, the moon. I've used gemstones such as moonstones, onyx and black spinel and it’s on a diamond cut chain which catches the light. I thought I'd have a bit of fun making something quite glamorous but have plenty more ideas for future collections some more of which also incorporate real wood.