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jeweller Heidi Hockenjos at her workbench

Maker in Focus - Heidi Hockenjos

Heidi Hockenjos creates fine jewellery from her workshop in Stroud. Her jewellery collections are intricate yet wearable daily jewels. A second skin of gold accents you’ll never want to take off.

How did you get into making jewellery?

I did a degree in wood/metal/ceramics and plastics then moved back to London to do some jewellery short courses, I found an apprenticeship with a goldsmith in Hatton Garden. I fell in love with the industry there and the myriad of craft specialisms within the industry. I became passionate about learning ancient skills and apprenticeship style learning.

What draws you to using gold?

It is to me the most desirable material on the planet simply for its qualities. It’s so malleable and clean to work with, you can work with gold in limitless ways it really has an energy about it and works so beautifully with all manner of precious stones. Also you can use it, melt it down and re-use it an infinite number of times, re-imagining heirloom pieces for clients which is what I really love to do.

gold and diamond ring close-up

What influences your designs?

Usually the materials themselves and the colours within precious and semi-precious stones, that’s often the starting point. I am very much inspired by ancient artefacts, hoards that have been unearthed, old processes practiced by ancient civilisations before the use of machinery at a time when everything was handmade. Particularly pieces made in ancient Persia and by the Egyptians.

What are your favourite stones to use?

I love stones in combinations with each other such as lapis with burnt orange sapphires, ruby alongside turquoise and of course old cut, diamonds that have come out of antique jewellery.

How does sustainability play a part in your work?

I reuse so many of the materials I work with, I cut stones often recutting old stones I have had for years. I buy material in it’s rough form often from small-scale artisanal miners and cut the shapes I need therefore eliminating waste and avoiding much of the stone cutting and processing industry which can be very dark. I only use diamonds that have been re-purposed from antique jewellery therefore not contributing to the diamond mining industry.

I use recycled gold and create designs which are pared back minimal, I treat all materials with great respect and use them sparingly in my designs.

I work a lot with clients re-purposing their gold and stones therefore keeping the buying of new(recycled) gold to an absolute minimum.

I try to be as self-sufficient as possible, completing each part of the process in house creating a closed-loop set up of many processes which keeps my supply chain short.

What is your newest make? What do you like about it and why is it special?

I really love a recent commission I did where I took apart my clients diamond necklace, her mother had recently passed away.

I made three identical gold necklaces each with one of the diamonds in, they were gifted to the sisters on the anniversary of their mothers death.

This commission really brought it home how important and personal commissions can be and how the jewellery I make can acts as a conduit for peoples memories and stories. Commissions like this one particularly remind me why I do what I do.

What does being part of The Guild mean to you?

I love being involved in an organisation where I am connected to so many other local highly skilled craftspeople. It really feels like the guild is run for craftspeople by craftspeople. I respect the institution greatly and all they have done to champion the importance of the handmade in Gloucestershire and to champion all the members and their work.

jewellers hands

Do you have any events or workshops coming up?

A friend and I ran a small gallery space before Christmas called Show of Hands, it was a selection of local craftspeople and artists work. We plan to run again over the site festival open studio in the spring and maybe again next Christmas time. I am also busy applying for other craft events none of which are confirmed yet but possibly the Select arts open studio trail in October.

I run a wax sculpting group workshop in cacao circle, the hot chocolate cafe in Stroud, the next date is the 11th Feb, I do this every 4-6 weeks, the details are on the workshop page of my website. I cast the wax talismans people have made into silver and gold and turn them into pieces of jewellery.

I also do a number of private workshops including wax workshops, beginners jewellery making workshops and wedding ring making workshops from my studio in Stroud.

What is on your wish list from the Guild shop?

There are a few mosaic pieces I would like by Cleo Mussi and a wicker handbag by Susan Early, I love both of their work a lot! Plus there is so much beautiful ceramics in the shop that I would love to own!

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