Home Interviews Open the miniature silver door and enter the world of studio jeweller Jo Walker
house necklace

Open the miniature silver door and enter the world of studio jeweller Jo Walker

by Camilla

I’m doing a job I love, so I’m very lucky. I don’t think a day goes by without me sitting at the work bench, making something.

Jo Walker is a studio jeweller trained at the School of Jewellery in Birmingham. As well her line of more traditional jewellery, Jo creates whimsical and original house necklaces and bangles, which are hand crafted in silver and copper, and come complete with miniature windows, doors and detailed handles – her beach hut lockets even have little chimneys so their occupants can light a fire and watch the waves come rolling in. We caught up with Jo to find out more about her imaginative collection of handmade jewellery.

Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
Firstly, thank you for having me. My name is Jo Walker. I’m a mum of three, a maker of jewellery using mixed metals and also a general craft dabbler.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
I would describe it as being eclectic. I make from the traditional to the whimsical, in no particular order and where my creations take me.

Jo Walker, Studio Jewellery

Have you always been creative?
Yes, very much so. When I was younger it was always textiles and embroidery that interested me, until one summer holiday my sister and I found a shop called Pretty Things in Harborne, which was filled to the gunnels with beads, findings and haberdashery.

dandelion clock earrings, silver earrings

The style of my jewellery is eclectic. I make from the traditional to the whimsical, in no particular order and where my creations take me.

Is that how you got into jewellery making?
I continued to make jewellery, but after leaving school I went to college to do nursing course and hated it. A friend’s mum knew I made beaded jewellery, so she took me to look round the School of Jewellery in Birmingham, where she had done a part-time course. It was amazing, and even though at that time the school was a run-down building with about 64 students and rooms full of tools and fire, it just felt like home.

studio jeweller

My ideas generally come when I’m already working, especially when I’m ridiculously busy and haven’t got time to run with them!

Where do your ideas come from? Who or what inspires you?
My ideas generally come when I’m already working, especially when I’m ridiculously busy and haven’t got time to run with them. My inspiration is the world around us – from architecture and train track lines to patterns in textiles.

Silver bird heart pin, studio jewellery, jo walker, studio jeweller

I’ll be halfway through a piece and something will pop into my head. This happened the other day when I was making an open heart bangle and I just felt it would look lovely as a stick pin, so that developed into my little heart and bird pins.

How do you decide what to make?
I don’t really decide, it sorts of decides for itself. I’ll be halfway through a piece and something will pop into my head. If I’m able to remember it, it gets taken further. This happened the other day when I was making an open heart bangle – at one point while I’m making the bangle it looks like a heart on a stick and I just felt it would look lovely as a stick pin, so that developed into my little heart and bird pins. I also get a lot of suggestions from customers about which kind of house to make next.

tall house necklace, silver and copper house pendant

Making my house necklaces is a long process, so I tend to make them in batches.

How do your house necklaces come to life?
I first mark the shape of the houses out on the copper and then saw pierce them. I then fold them at each corner and solder them together, along with the floors and roofs. Next I use textured silver to create the windows and doors, and again solder those on to the front of the house. Each piece is then polished, and if they are being antiqued they are placed in liver of sulphur, which is then rubbed back with micro-mesh and then polished again. It’s a long process, so I tend to make the houses in batches.

What’s your favourite part of the creative process?
Ooh I don’t know. I’m not very good at drawing, so I don’t spend much time, if any, on that, but I enjoy saw piercing and I enjoy soldering. I’m not so keen on polishing though – it’s a mucky business!

House locket necklace

I love the lockets when they are finished. The hinges can be fiddly, but when they click as you close them it’s a wonderful sound. The beach house locket even has a chimney for the colder days when you can light a log burner whilst watching the waves roaring.

Is there a piece you’re particularly proud of?
I couldn’t name one piece, but I love the lockets when they are finished. The hinges can be fiddly, but when they click as you close them it’s a wonderful sound.

Are there any other crafts or techniques you would like to learn?
Perhaps given a chance I would love to go back and learn some new jewellery techniques, especially with CAD taking over design in the jewellery workplace. I also make my own little lampwork beads – I’m not very good but can get away with the basics, so I’d love to have more time to get better at making the beads.

jo walker, studio jeweller, handmade jewellery

My studio is very messy! I have a workbench that was made for me when I was 18 – it’s made from solid wood and withstands a lot of abuse!

Can you describe your workspace?
Ha, ha! Very messy! I’ve managed to take over the playroom now the children are older. I have a workbench that was made for me when I was 18 – it’s made from solid wood and withstands a lot of abuse! Then I have all my tools – a lot of them date back to college – and a butcher’s block with my rolling mill and vice. I also have a big desk for my computer and all my packaging stuff.

Is there a tool you couldn’t live without?
My pliers! I can make jewellery anywhere if I have my pliers. I take them away with me, along with some metal wire or jump rings, and make bracelets and earrings on the go.

peridot and silver spinner ring

My inspiration is the world around us – from architecture and train track lines to patterns in textiles.

What’s the best thing about making for a living?
I’m doing a job I love, so I’m very lucky. I don’t think a day goes by without me sitting at the work bench, making something.

What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
You have to put in the time and effort to market your work, be that at a trade show or selling on an online marketplace. It takes time – it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to put as much work into that, if not more, as you do the making. It might take six months, it might take a year, but if you keep going at it it will happen.

Jo walker jeweller, interview

You have to put in the time and effort to market your work. It takes time – it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to put as much work into that, if not more, as you do the making.

How will you be spending Christmas?
This year I’m spending it at home with the kids, hubby and my sister. I get to do all the cooking – how lucky am I!

And what will be at the top of your tree?
I’m not sure yet – I’m still looking for the perfect piece. Have you got any ideas from the shops you’ve interviewed? :) One thing I have got on there though is lots of handmade glass pieces, made by some very special friends.

style=”text-align: center;”>Silver flower earrings, studio jeweller, handmade jewellery, jo walker

See more of Jo Walker’s handmade jewellery in her Folksy shop Studio Jeweller

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