Meet Elizabeth Anne Norris – environmental scientist turned jewellery designer

Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery, British jewellery designer, jeweller

Meet the Maker: Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery

Jewellery designer Elizabeth Anne Norris didn’t take a typical career path. A self-proclaimed geek, she worked at King’s College London for 16 years as an air quality scientist while studying jewellery making at evening classes. After an HND in Silversmithing, Jewellery and Allied Crafts and almost a decade of part-time jewellery making, Elizabeth finally “cut the apron strings” and became a professional jewellery designer. She hasn’t left science behind completely, though – you can see elements from her science background in most of her designs. We talk to Elizabeth to find out more…

Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery, British jewellery designer, jeweller, handmade jewellery, artisan jewellery, Brighton jewellery, Brighton artist, Brighton designer

Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
Hello, I’m Elizabeth. I live and work in Brighton as a jewellery designer and teacher. My precious metal jewellery designs have a delicate feminine feel. My story isn’t typical – jewellery design is my second career. I studied environmental biology and worked at King’s College London for 16 years before diving into jewellery making full time. Inspired by my background in science and biology, I love taking simple shapes and adding different textures and finishes to metals to make my pieces unique.

Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery, British jewellery designer, jeweller, handmade jewellery, artisan jewellery, Brighton jewellery, Brighton artist, Brighton designer

The transition from geeky scientist to jewellery designer was a gradual process.  I was craving a more creative living.

How did you go from scientist to jewellery designer?
The transition from geeky scientist to jewellery designer was a gradual process. I took up jewellery making as a hobby and after a year or so decided I wanted to pursue it more seriously. I was craving a more creative living. My understanding boss allowed me to work part time, so I could go back to college and study jewellery design. After completing my jewellery course I continued to commute to London several days a week while building up my jewellery business. It took about 6 years until I finally cut the apron strings and became my own boss.

Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery, British jewellery designer, jeweller, handmade jewellery, artisan jewellery, Brighton jewellery, Brighton artist, Brighton designer

If I didn’t have the hands-on aspect to my craft, I wouldn’t enjoy it.

Do you think you would make the same kind of jewellery if you hadn’t been a scientist first?
Undoubtedly my science brain directs my process. I’m really interested in how metal works and what I can do to it. I hand make each piece of jewellery from start to finish. If I didn’t have this hands-on aspect to my craft, I wouldn’t enjoy it.

Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery, British jewellery designer, jeweller, handmade jewellery, artisan jewellery, Brighton jewellery, Brighton artist, Brighton designer

Where do you look for inspiration?
Inspiration comes from all around me but my biology background is a big influence. I love travel and world culture too, in fact I’m designing a new collection right now based on these things.

Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery, British jewellery designer, jeweller, handmade jewellery, artisan jewellery, Brighton jewellery, Brighton artist, Brighton designer

Inspiration comes from all around me but my biology background is a big influence.

Does where you live influence your work too?
There is a big creative community in Brighton where I live. Being in touch with people who are doing creative things keeps me inspired and motivated, as well as learning a lot.

Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery, British jewellery designer, jeweller, handmade jewellery, artisan jewellery, Brighton jewellery, Brighton artist, Brighton designer

How do you start a piece of your jewellery? Can you talk us through your creative process?
New ideas often come to me while falling asleep, when my brain is switching off. I have a notebook by my bed where I can sketch ideas. I can then choose which ideas to develop into a collection. I also find Pinterest is great for getting the creative ideas flowing. My style is to take elements, shapes and patterns that appeal to me and incorporate them into simple and bold designs.

Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery, British jewellery designer, jeweller, handmade jewellery, artisan jewellery, Brighton jewellery, Brighton artist, Brighton designer

I work in a light open plan studio right near the sea front. It’s an inspiring space that I share with 10 other artists and makers.

Tell us about your studio. Where is it, what does it look like and what’s your favourite thing in it?
I work in a light open plan studio right near the sea front. It’s an inspiring space that I share with 10 other artists and makers. I love all the tools in my workshop but my rolling mill is probably my favourite.

Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery, British jewellery designer, jeweller, handmade jewellery, artisan jewellery, Brighton jewellery, Brighton artist, Brighton designer

Craft is the practice of making something beautiful or practical using your hands and a set of skills and processes.

What does craft mean to you?
To me, craft is the practice of making something beautiful or practical using your hands and a set of skills and processes. The craft of jewellery making is aided by hand or machine tools. I love that modern craft can combine age-old traditional techniques with current technology.

Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery, British jewellery designer, jeweller, handmade jewellery, artisan jewellery, Brighton jewellery, Brighton artist, Brighton designer

New ideas often come to me while falling asleep, when my brain is switching off. I have a notebook by my bed where I can sketch ideas.

What’s the best thing about being a designer and maker?
Freedom to work the hours I want and make whatever I like. Ultimately, I make jewellery that I want to wear.

Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery, British jewellery designer, jeweller, handmade jewellery, artisan jewellery, Brighton jewellery, Brighton artist, Brighton designer

Shop Elizabeth Anne Norris Jewellery on Folksy

You’ll find romantic gifts that can be personalised for him and her in Elizabeth’s Folksy shop and to celebrate the patron saint of love she is offering 15% off her jewellery designs with discount code VALENTINE15. Offer valid until midnight 14 February.

 

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1 Comment

  • Reply February 3, 2017

    K MacKay

    Lovely article :)
    I too am an ecologist turned jewellery crafter! Though I’ve been dumped in the deep end, being an entirely self-taught crafter, in a rural area with little employment for ecologists.
    Nature really is the best and widest source of inspiration.

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