Backyard Bill visits the workshop

Originally featured in Issue 02
Buy this issue

Share on Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

Where’s home?
I was born in Southampton, grew up in Caterham in Surrey and have now lived in London for eight years.

What do you do?
I’m a jeweller/silversmith mostly working on commissions
and bespoke pieces as well as producing collections for myself and others.

How did you come to do what you do? 
I originally wanted to be an illustrator, I spent most my time as a kid drawing, mostly copying from Spiderman or Judge Dredd comics but I also really enjoyed making stuff. The idea of making something with your own hands really appealed to me. I was also fascinated with the jewellery at the antique fairs
I would visit with my family. When I was 14 my dad suggested being a jeweller, to which I responded, ‘only girls make jewellery’! But from that moment a seed had been planted. When I was 16 I did a few weeks’ work experience at a jewellers in Brighton after which my mind was set on becoming a jeweller.

Can you describe a particular technique or material that you see as an essential part of the making process for you?
Wax carving is my main skill. My personal work is more like miniature sculpture than classic jewellery. I carve and sculpt the jewellery, or at least parts of it, from a dense jewellers’ wax from which fine finish can be achieved. These wax pieces can then be converted into any precious metal of choice through
the ‘lost wax’ casting process. This involves placing a mould around the wax, removing the wax through firing in a kiln to create a negative impression of the original wax model. The metal is heated until liquid then poured into the negative space in the mould.

Favourite tool?
It’s an old dentist’s tool I use to carve with, it’s customised
to my liking and couldn’t work without it.

Can you tell us about another maker that you have been inspired by? 
I am more inspired by my predecessors than my contemporaries. The Philippe Wolfers and the René Laliques, even Leonardo da Vinci and the sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini offer more to me creatively than most of what I see around me today.

Which one and why...
i) Learn from someone else or work it out on your own? 
I like both. Many of the techniques that I use I taught myself but that still doesn’t stop me from asking questions. I still ring friends of mine who work in the same industry and quiz them over various techniques that they are more familiar with, and vice versa.
ii) More or less?
I suppose both have their strengths but in regards to my work I would have to say more. The jewellery I make is bold and largely embellished so it would be hypocritical of me to opt for less.
iii) Gold or silver?
Eight years ago I would have said silver but I have grown to love working with gold.

What song currently induces your best productivity? 
John Frusciante – ‘Wayne’.


Photographs Backyard Bill