The Standard Works – Jewellery Quarter

13 Standard Works Jewellery Quarter 2014 Becca Williams sm

Built in 1879 the old Standard Works building dominates a large stretch of Vittoria Street, on the far edge of the Quarter, and has long been one of my favourite buildings in the area. Disappointingly derelict for the best part of two decades it has thus far avoided all attempts to turn it into residential property, or to resurrect it for industrial use – until it was finally sold, just a few weeks ago, to the Ruskin Mill Trust, a further education organisation for young people with learning and emotional difficulties.

With plans to build specialist teaching rooms, a theatrical space and even it’s own artisan bakery the team behind the conversion of the space are ambitious – with an eye to fit the project into the community and recall some of the buildings’ past with the inclusion of jewellery education workshops in the scheme.

So, last weekend, the people behind the project allowed a bunch of curious locals with cameras into the building to get a sense of what the project is about and have a tour of this remarkable building. Here’s what I saw:

Workshop Renovations, pt 2

Workshop renovations are coming on apace, with the last coat of paint due to go on the walls tomorrow I’ve roped in some wonderful helpers to build benches, put up an awful lot of scavenged worktop and generally aid in making the place ship shape. And all I had to do was feed them.

Seriously though, I couldn’t have done this without the generous help that I’ve received along the way so far – and can’t wait to move in to the finished space.

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Workshop Renovations – pt1

It’s been clear for a while now that I’ve needed a bigger workshop, I’ve got to a point where I need to invest in larger machinery, where I’d like to be able to stretch out, make bigger work and be able to have more space to plan designs as well as ‘just’ making things. I’ve got ideas of teach a little too and for that I will definitely require more space.

So, after a few dreary January afternoons combing the ‘to let’ adverts in and around the Jewellery Quarter I finally found somewhere that just felt right the instant that I walked through the door.

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Typically, it was last on a long list of properties to see, it was cold, dreary and may even have been raining outside. But, inside, there was light, and space and okay, it’s in the attic of a rickety old building but hey, I’ve always thought that it’s the haphazard structures that give the Jewellery Quarter a lot of its charm. 

And now, after quite a lot of official procedures (and filling in reams of forms) I have the keys and am starting to strip things back, ready to paint and to build:

 

Stacks of Flotsam Rings …

Becca Williams stacking rings in progress

I spent some time this week working on an idea for a new design of stacking rings, to compliment my Flotsam range, with hammered textures and a couple of different shades of freshwater pearls:

They’ll be winging there way out to my galleries soon …

Centrepiece 20th Nov – 23rd Dec 2013

Centrepiece 2013 opens at Symphony Hall this Thursday with 28 local designer makers  selling their work in the run up to Christmas.

Centrepiece Logo

The show will be open from 10am – 10pm everyday and is always staffed by the designers themselves, here’s a selection of what will be available (to help you out with your Christmas gift buying … )

Commission – Engraved Bangle

This lovely little commission went through the workshop over the summer, the engraved detail comes from a drawing the recipient did on her 21st Birthday.

Edward Smith Bangle 2013 A

The engraving stretches around the front face of the bangle and I was really pleased to get such an interesting design to work into a piece. The main body of the bangle is a reversed D section, with the comfortable curve next to the wrist and the larger, flat surface area facing out to take the engraving.

If you’d like something special commissioned  yourself then do get in touch.

Cornwall

This summer I took my first trip to the Cornish seaside, somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit but have never managed to – now that I have I think that it could now become a firm favourite of mine.

I spent a few days wandering around the local beaches, exploring the South Coast Path where it meandered by the campsite and generally soaking in the sound of the waves and the blue, blue sea. The landscape is certainly inspiring, at turns gentle then wild and I was so sad to come home!

Polly Joke Beach, Cornwall

Polly Joke Beach, Cornwall

Of course I didn’t spend the whole week wandering along the coastline (though that wouldn’t have been a challenge) I did venture down to St Ives to take in the light and explore the twisting streets of the town. It offers up a whole host of independent galleries filled with the work of local and international makers and artists, many of whom have been influenced by the beautiful local landscape.

Spread across two floors in the centre of St Ives is the New Craftsman Gallery which is currently hosting work by, among others, Neil Davis and Cornelius Jakob Van Dop.

Neil Davies, Indigo Skies over Sennen

Neil Davies, Indigo Skies over Sennen

Davies paints landscapes, with big, heavy brush strokes and expressive sweeps of colour that all build up on top of each other into some seriously captivating textures. Some of them are stormy, some a little serene as he reacts to the changes in the seasons around his home near St Ives.

Neil Davies, Reflections on the North Coast

Neil Davies, Reflections on the North Coast

Neil Davies, Watching the Crashing Waves at Boat Cove

Neil Davies, Watching the Crashing Waves at Boat Cove

Tucked away in a cabinet downstairs was the work of Cornelius Jakob Van Dop, a jeweller and metalsmith with a clear love for texture, line and the natural world. His small, palm sized boxes are decorated with beautiful illustrations of the coastal landscape and wildlife. There was something in them that reminded me of sailors scimshaw carvings, filled with the details that had been keenly observed during a life looking at the sea.

Cornelius Jakob Van Dop Box

Cornelius Jakob Van Dop Box

They were beautifully made, with neat hinges and simple dimple locking mechanisms that functioned neatly and really let the quality of the illustrations come across. Alongside these were a collection of animal and insect brooches, I particularly liked the whale, simply made in plain silver with more of that glorious fine detailing:

Cornelius Jakob Van Dop Box

Cornelius Jakob Van Dop Box

Cornelius Jakob Van Dop Brooch

Cornelius Jakob Van Dop Brooch

The Gallery is open all year round and details can be found here.

Beachcomber #2

New beachcomber necklace:

Becca Williams Beachcomber Necklace 2 72dpi