Maker in Focus – Alice Huggins
Alice Huggins creates unique pieces of fine jewellery both remodelling old jewellery and sourcing stones and metal from scratch. She uses traditional jewellery making techniques alongside cutting edge technology.
Alice will be showing her work in The Guild shop in our New Year, New Makers Showcase from Monday 3 April.
What inspired you to start making jewellery?
My father makes gorgeous large terracotta garden pots and I remember watching the hard slog of him filling and emptying his van to set up at various craft fairs. I always knew I wanted to physically make things and one day at a craft fair I saw a jeweller on a stand opposite rock up with a Shirley shopper trolley and gently unload a tiny cargo of precious jewellery. Lightbulb moment. I also remember specifically seeing Charmaine Harris at Bovey Tracey Craft Fair and was amazed by all the gorgeous coloured stones and vivid yellow gold she used.
How did you get into making jewellery?
I did a day course at the school of jewellery in Birmingham after finding a jewellery making book with really clear photo instructions in a library sale. The idea of the soldering process fascinated me. After that I decided to move to Birmingham and study jewellery and silversmithing full time.
How do you choose your gemstones?
I love every colour and shape imaginable so choosing stones is very hard for me. I have an excellent gemstone supplier from York who kindly sends me stones to choose from and so I try to just go with my gut. I know what a traditionally great stone is regarding cut, clarity and colour but I do also love the romance of a great inclusion, it’s a natural story in a stone. I have just bought some gorgeous yellow jade with the most interesting inclusions when the light shines through them.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
My favourite metal to look at is 18ct yellow gold but my favourite metal to laser weld is platinum because it melts like butter. Diamonds are also a jewellers dream to work with on a laser welder because unlike most stones they won’t explode when hit with a laser beam, the light just bounces straight back out.
You also work with couples and friends one on one to make pieces. How does this work?
When I started working again after children I did metal working classes where people could come and make rings with me including wedding rings. However, now I am concentrating on making my own jewellery to sell so I have stopped the metal work classes. I do still do a few wax workshops at a local cafe where people come and make wax models that I then get cast into silver for them.
What is your newest make?
My newest make is an 18ct yellow gold rattle ring. It’s actually the first thing I attempted to make on the day class but more refined and in gold rather than silver. It contains two ceramic balls that rattle while it’s worn and I just love the combination of materials and the boldness of the shape.
What does being part of The Guild mean to you?
Being part of The Guild is a complete honour as I love the work of all the makers they represent and I feel like having a connection to other local makers is a bit like finding people to hold hands with, when working for yourself can feel like trying to see in the dark.
Do you have any events or workshops coming up?
I have a wax workshop at Meadows in Painswick on Saturday 22nd April. I will also have a showcase at The Guild shop in Montpellier at the end of March.
What is on your wish list from The Guild shop?
This is easy as when I went to visit Jo (shop manager) the other week I treated myself (I turn 40 this month) to a coffee cup by Annie Hewitt. I also have my eye on Jessie James’ bright green rug hanging behind the counter.