A moment or two with Eleanor Bolton at her East London studio
Originally featured in Issue 02
Buy this issue
What do you do?
I’m a designer and maker of jewellery and sometimes objects.
How did you come to do what you do?
I was always more interested in making things rather than working in 2D, even in art lessons at school. I always enjoyed working hands on with materials. An initial interest in sculpture somehow led me towards jewellery. I started my label after my Masters at the Royal College of Art. I hadn’t really planned it, it seemed a natural progression.
Describe the first piece of jewellery you made?
A large neckpiece made from rectangular sections of clear acrylic and joined together with copper rod, for an early college project. Sort of in the style of an Elizabethan collar; I cringe to think of it now.
Can you describe a particular technique or material that you see as an essential part of the making process for you?
I developed a unique sewing technique of coiling and hand-stitching cotton braid to create lightweight tactile structures that are the basis for most of my pieces. The cotton braid I use, from a factory in the north of England, is also essential to my process – without that the technique would not have been developed, it’s a sort of chicken and egg situation.
Sharp scissors, the crisp sound you get when cutting with sharp scissors is so satisfying.
Can you tell us about another maker that you have been inspired by?
I find how different makers work fascinating. Knitwear designer Sandra Backlund, jeweller Nel Linssen and metalsmith David Clarke are all inspirations for pushing the boundaries of what is expected of their chosen material.
Which one and why...
i) Learn from someone else or work it out on your own?
Both, I enjoy the exploratory process of experimentation and the trial and error of discovering new techniques and processes, but it’s also important to know when to ask for help.
ii) More or less?
Less, I prefer a pared-down aesthetic, less is definitely more.
iii) Gold or silver?
With age I have become more drawn to gold and its many shades.
What song currently induces your best productivity?
I rarely listen to music in the studio; my constant companion is a combination of Radio 4 and audiobooks. I find them soothing and comforting especially when there’s a lot going on. I find spoken word a calming influence, which helps with productivity. On nights when working late in the studio the familiarity of Radio 4 also helps you not to feel alone.
Portrait Backyard Bill