Meet the Maker: Caroline Frodsham from Pods and Plunder
Seed Pod Jewellery made in West Wales
Jeweller Caroline Frodsham from Pods and Plunder creates copper and silver jewellery inspired by seed pods and flowers. Her love of gardening and drawing led her to study the shapes of the seed pods and find ways to translate these into beautiful pieces of jewellery. We caught up with Caroline to discover more about her inspiration, her makeshift studio at the kitchen table and how she learned her craft…
Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
My name is Caroline Frodsham and I live in beautiful West Wales. I work four days a week in a college of further education in learning support. During my other three days, I spend as much time as possible sitting at my table, drawing, designing and making jewellery using silver and copper.
My inspiration lies in the shapes within nature.
Have you always been interested in making?
I have always loved making, and drawing too. As a child, I would constantly be drawing or painting or making funny knitting needle holders things with sticky-backed plastic that I’d seen on Blue Peter. Drawing, painting and photography commanded most of my attention and I went on to complete a degree in fine art. From there, I had many happy years teaching Art and Design at secondary level. I still work in education now and continue to see the positive benefits, the joy and the pride, that art and craft can give.
I spend as much time as possible sitting at my table, drawing, designing and making jewellery using silver and copper.
How did you start making jewellery?
I’ve always been fascinated by jewellery and have spend many hours admiring local handmade work, wherever I may be. One fine day, quite a few years ago now, I decided to take the plunge and learn how to make something for myself. So, after completing a couple of short courses in silversmithing, and armed with as many books as possible, I began building up my tool collection and practising my piercing and soldering skills.
A handmade piece of jewellery has that beauty of slight imperfection, which in my opinion makes it all the more beautiful.
After years of enjoying finding out and fiddling about, I made some jewellery for presents, then took some into my workplace for public criticism. To my amazement, they liked my pieces and that gave me the boost to carry on. I continue to learn and improve my skills and look forward to how my work might develop.
A piece made by hand is full of the love and joy of the maker, making it shine out from mass-produced goods.
Where do you look for inspiration?
My inspiration lies in the shapes within nature. I love gardening and I’m compelled to photograph and draw flowers and seed pods. I use these shapes to form ideas.
I can’t resist collecting worn glass from the beach, wondering about its journey there…
I also can’t resist collecting worn glass from the beach, wondering about its journey there and incorporating it into my pieces, hoping for its journey to go on.
I love gardening and I’m compelled to photograph and draw flowers and seed pods. I use these shapes to form ideas.
How do you start a piece – where does your seed pod jewellery begin?
I don’t always start by drawing the design; sometimes I just like putting bits and pieces together that I’ve already made and I make a piece like that. Working from a design usually means working out how a 3D shape works with cut-out paper or card first. I use traditional techniques in the making. I cut sterling silver and copper sheet with a piercing saw and I make dome shapes using a doming block and punches. I solder things together at the cooker, which is where the silver also gets a clean. I like making my own clasps and earring wires to complement the whole item.
How did you start working with copper?
I originally used copper just to practice my skills, but after being constantly thrilled by the results of heating copper – with its unpredictable shades of red, orange and purple appearing – I can’t stop using it now. I think it makes a great contrast with silver.
At the top of my Christmas wish list is to have some kind of (warm) shed in the garden, somewhere that’s all mine.
Tell us about your studio – where is it and what does it look like?
Currently my ‘studio’ is the end of the kitchen table, where I keep all my tools. I do my soldering on the cooker, by the extractor fan. So, at the top of my Christmas wish list is to have some kind of (warm) shed in the garden, somewhere with a bit more space and that’s all mine.
I do my soldering on the cooker, by the extractor fan!
What does craft mean to you?
A piece made by hand is full of the love and joy of the maker and individuality, making it shine out from mass-produced goods. It has that beauty of slight imperfection, which in my opinion makes it all the more beautiful. I find making things meditative (mostly) and look forward to spending any time possible creating something. It adds to my joy when someone else likes what I have done too.
After being constantly thrilled by the results of heating copper – with its unpredictable shades of red, orange and purple appearing – I can’t stop using it now.
How would you spend your perfect day?
My perfect day would have to be at least 36 hours long, as there is never enough time to do everything. I would sit and contemplate first of all, hopefully outside in the garden with my coffee, perhaps make an unachievable to-do list and maybe I would fit in a bit of gardening. Then I would get down to some making. After spending a few hours immersed in that, I would go out walking, either on the beach or up the hill behind our house, with family or friends and the two dogs. After a delicious meal (that someone else has prepared) I would look back at the piece of jewellery I had made with a smile – this is a perfect day after all. Finally, everyone would gather outside as the sun sets, with glasses of wine, chatter, laughing and relaxing.