M E E T | H A N N A H G R A C E R Y A N
VI | Please tell our viewers a little bit about yourself, what’s your background (where are you from, what did you study)?
HGR | I’m a native Glaswegian, born and raised in the Southside. Although I travel a lot with my work, I haven’t strayed too far from the Scottish jewellery scene, and I strongly believe that we have some of the most interesting and exciting contemporary makers. I studied Silversmithing & Jewellery at Glasgow School of Art, and since then I have set up my own workshop, exhibited my work throughout the UK, and have founded a Glasgow-based design group called The Garnet Collective.
VI | What brought you to jewellery making?
HGR | I originally wanted to study Sculpture, but soon realised that I felt the need for my creations to have a functional purpose. The obvious answer to this was jewellery; each brooch, pendant or ring is a sculptural composition that can be worn and cherished, and accrue sentimental value. Like most jewellers, I am a little obsessive and definitely a perfectionist - qualities which help when spending hours at a workbench applying granulation or building complex stone-settings.
VI | Who or what do you take your inspirations?
HGR | I’ve always loved studying history. I have a few favourite periods, but really I just enjoy learning about important objects, influential figures and significant events from all periods in history. I think we can learn so much from what went before us, and I never fail to be inspired when discovering an art movement I hadn’t previously known about or an ancient author I didn’t know existed. It might not always be immediately obvious but all these stories eventually find their way into my work – everything from the textures found in Roman ruins to the extravagant use of gold in the Palace of Versailles.
VI | What do you use/how do you make your work?
I use a combination of traditional granulation techniques and lost wax casting to create the majority of my work. Over the years I have experimented with modern technologies, and have taken all my jewellery making skills back to basics, and I think i’ve finally found a happy medium between the two. I referred to my degree show collection as “modern relics”, and I think that sums up both the concept and the aesthetic that the rest of my work has followed - jewellery which is inspired by ancient metalsmithing techniques, but has been adapted to utilise some of the amazing new tools and machines we have available to us today.
VI | What do you enjoy the most about making?
HGR | I like the sense of achievement. The “I made that!” moment. There’s a huge journey between having an idea, sketching it out, and building it from scratch. It’s so satisfying! I think I also get a real kick out of seeing myself improve. With every stone I set, and every ring I carve, I get a little bit better and can see the results in what I produce. I’m naturally very hands-on, but jewellery making has always been an active learning experience for me, and I think 10/20 years down the line I’ll still be experimenting and mastering new skills.
VI | What don’t you enjoy?
I think being a self-employed designer/maker can occasionally be quite a lonely vocation. I don’t mind the long days in the studio, and it’s not every job that allows you to shut yourself away, just you and your itunes, for hours on end. Having said that, there are days when I’m acutely aware that I haven’t spoken to another human being, and that can be quite isolating. My answer to this is to surround myself with friends who also work in the industry. I’ve kept in touch with most of the jewellers I studied with, and if I’m ever doubting myself or can’t work out how to do something, I just call on them for advice. It’s important to have a strong network of other makers who can help out and make you feel less alone. It’s the key to survival in an industry that demands so much from you.
VI | What are your aspirations?
HGR | My goal for 2016 is to have my new collection ready to take to new stockists and available to buy from my website in time for Christmas. I’ve decided not to rush things, and to make sure that every new product I introduce to customers is unique and beautifully made. My goal for 2017 is to get a place at Goldsmiths’ Fair, which will require a pretty amazing application. I’m confident that I can put together a strong body of work, but I also know that the standard is incredibly high and that i’ll be surrounded by a lot of my jewellery idols. In terms of The Garnet Collective, i’d like to see us go from strength to strength and secure more exhibiting opportunities together.
VI | What’s your favourite piece you have created?
HGR | I made a series of rings for my degree show in 2014 called the ‘Sun King & Moon King’ rings. They were inspired by the story of the Bavarian monarch, King Ludwig II’s obsession with Louis XIV of France. Louis was known as the Sun King, while, due to his melancholia, Ludwig decided he suited the title of Moon King. Each ring was really heavy, encrusted with highly polished silver granulation, and were crowned with gold-plated “halos”. I think they were the pieces that most people commented on and wrote about, so they soon became my favourites. They were the product of my tutor telling me to “really push it” and “think outside the box”, and although I was hesitant at first, they definitely became more interesting designs because of his advice.
VI | Who’s work do you admire?
HGR | On one hand I love the work of conceptual jewellers such as Ruudt Peters and Otto Kunzli, but I also really admire emerging fashion jewellers, Smith/Grey, and costume jeweller, Euan McWhirter. Having trained at art school I will always start my design process with a curiosity and an experimental approach, but ultimately the emphasis for me has always been on wearability and how a piece feels on the body. My biggest inspiration, however, comes from the work my friends produce. I’m always amazed at how complex and clever their work is, and they’re the best indication of what feels fresh and current in the industry right now.