Silver lady

PUBLISHED: 12:04 10 July 2009 | UPDATED: 08:56 21 February 2013

Lynne Morgan turned her love of art into a career as an award-winning jeweller. Jack Holt went to see a craftswoman at work To be 'arty' at school is one thing. To develop your artistic talents (assuming you really have some); to produce w...

Lynne Morgan turned her love of art into a career as an award-winning jeweller. Jack Holt went to see a craftswoman at work

To be 'arty' at school is one thing. To develop your artistic talents (assuming you really have some); to produce work that people want to buy; to sell your work and to actually make a living are other things.
Being a successful artist/maker is the old inspiration/perspiration conundrum, as Lynne Morgan well knows. She was indeed, 'arty' at school. The perspiration was to follow.
"After leaving school, I did a National Diploma in Art and Design at Herefordshire College," she says. "It was a taster in a range of disciplines and I was unsure of what I wanted to pursue until the tutor mentioned jewellery design, it struck a chord."
Lynne, born into a Shropshire farming family, then studied for a degree in jewellery and silversmithing at the University of Central England in Birmingham.
"It was an intensive course," she says, "and I worked hard to make sure I got a first."
More dedication followed as Lynne stayed at Birmingham to undertake a one-year Master of Arts in Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products. "I wanted to develop my work further," she says, "and learn more about marketing and how to run a successful business."
Following her studies, Lynne Morgan MA returned to the family home at Cold Weston near Ludlow and contemplated being a contemporary jewellery designer/maker.
She'd had confirmation of her talent with a succession of prizes awarded by the British Jewellers' Association - including First Prize in Fashion Jewellery in 2001. Lynne had also exhibited widely - mainly in the UK but also at Silpakorn University, Bangkok.
She soon had a small workshop established at home but needed a reliable income so took a part-time job at The Silver Pear, in Ludlow - which sells contemporary lifestyle products including jewellery.
She says: "I faced the usual conflict of needing to produce pieces to earn a living and feeling guilty if I experimented. At university, we were encouraged to make large, flamboyant wearable objects, pushing the boundaries of what jewellery can be. I still enjoy challenging my creativity and making larger pieces, but realise it is also important to manufacture smaller and safer items that will actually sell".
Now, six years after graduating, Lynne has produced a wide range of bracelets, necklaces, earrings and what she calls multi-component rings. She works predominantly in silver and fashions exquisite designs with skill and patience. It is almost painful to watch.
"Designs are evolved through drawing," she says. "I'm influenced by nature-based poetry, stories and fairytales, as well my love of Japanese art with its highly stylised depiction of nature."
So, she draws a dove in outline and places a tiny flower in the middle of it. Lynne has hundreds of drawings - each slightly different as she evolves the idea.
"Once I'm completely happy with a drawing," she says, "It is scanned into my computer and altered to an appropriate size to suit the design."
With the drawing transferred to the sheet of silver, Lynne begins the task of cutting it out. The technique is called saw piercing and she uses a special saw with blades in different thicknesses starting from just over a tenth of a millimetre! Supporting the material on a bench peg (a v-shaped platform), Lynne cuts slowly and carefully while the silver off-cuts are caught in a tray beneath.
To join silver components, Lynne uses a technique called silver soldering. Using a propane gas and air blow torch and with the parts supported on a heat-proof hearth, Lynne will heat them and then add a little silver solder. As the work cools, it forms a strong and, if done properly, invisible join. Parts can also be shaped using an array of small hammers, punches and formers.
If the word painstaking is forming in your mind, you're correct - this is meticulous work. Sometimes, when she requires many similar items, Lynne will opt to have them cast. From the drawing, she makes a 'master' from which she takes a mould. A specialist company then casts the silver items for her.
Lynne continues to exhibit her work widely and in 2007 was one of the artists accepted to display her jewellery at the prestigious Origin show in London (formerly Chelsea Craft Fair). This followed her receiving another honour - A Silver Award in the Craftsmanship and Design Awards from Goldsmiths Hall, London, for one of her pieces.
Lynne's jewellery has been warmly received wherever she has exhibited and sales have grown as she has become more widely known. Quite often, people who see her work, like her styling and desire something more personal - they then commission Lynne to fulfil their wishes.
As the new adage goes: An artist without a website is an unknown artist.
At the time of writing, Lynne had recently completed her website which showcases her work to a much wider audience. This particular 'arty' schoolchild seems well on the way to actually making a living using her considerable talents.
Lynne Morgan
Contemporary Jewellery Designer/Maker

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