Meet the Maker – Eightfourteen Silver
Jeweller Harriet Ward from Eightfourteen Silver became hooked on working with silver after taking classes with a master jeweller in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter in 2013. Each piece she makes is fabricated by hand – sawn, soldered, hammered, filed, forged, polished – in her workshop in Woodings Yard in Stafford, and each one is completely unique. Here, in our Meet the Maker interview, Harriet talks to fellow Folksy seller Carrie Lyall from Rose & Hen about her beautiful and intriguing pieces, her techniques and tools, and why being a maker matters.
To celebrate being our featured maker Harriet is offering a 15% discount in her Folksy shop until 16th August 2020 – just add the code FOLKSY15 when you check out. Shop Eightfourteen Silver on Folksy >
There’s something very satisfying about starting the day with just a few materials and using my skills and tools, along with some imagination, to create something that didn’t exist a few hours ago.Harriet Ward, Eightfourteen Silver
Hi Harriet, it’s lovely to meet you! Can you introduce yourself and share how you became a jeweller?
Hello! I started my journey to becoming a jeweller in 2013 when I took silversmithing classes with a master jeweller in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. I’ve always been happiest when creating – taking art at school and studying photography at university. After graduating, I worked in less creative jobs and was looking for creative photography projects to do in my spare time. It was through this that I met my husband. He helped me realise how important making and creating is to me and encouraged me to learn silversmithing, something I’d always been attracted to but never done before.
Eightfourteen Silver is an interesting name. Can you tell me where it came from?
Naming things is so difficult! I wanted something related to me, but not obviously. I worked out that my initials (at the time) were the eighth and fourteenth letters in the alphabet. I liked the sound of it, so Eightfourteen stuck.
Sometimes I put on an outfit and imagine a certain style of necklace that would go with it, and that inspires me.Harriet Ward, Eightfourteen Silver
Can you tell me what inspires your design process?
I’ve made jewellery inspired by certain songs, a moth that visited my window and the patterns a map makes. Sometimes I find a gap in my own jewellery collection and that inspires me – I will put on an outfit and imagine a certain style of necklace that would go with it.
I have a collection of books that are useful for inspiration. Manuals on silversmithing techniques are great – sometimes I’ll make something just to try a new method.
Sawing out silhouettes takes a level of concentration, which is very therapeutic.Harriet Ward, Eightfourteen Silver
Because I love nature and all things delicate, I’m really drawn to your insect and branch necklace. Which is your favourite piece to make and why?
I love making saw-pierced jewellery, like the insect and branch necklace you mention. I spend time doodling the design and then sawing out the silhouettes. I find it takes a level of concentration, which is very therapeutic.
Making chains is another favourite – hand fabricating each link from wire is time consuming but it’s really satisfying to make something completely from scratch and have the entire thing be the product of your effort.
I love your workspace, it must be glorious to have your own studio. Do you find that having a dedicated studio gives you a more focused approach? Have you been able to access it during lockdown or have you been working from home?
Having a studio really is glorious! Over time I’ve stepped up from the corner of the front room to the garage and then to the workshop I have now. I’m in Woodings Yard, which is a creative community in Stafford. There are currently eight other creative businesses in the building, including Molly Designs, who’s a fellow Folksy maker. I’ve found that having somewhere dedicated to silversmithing makes it much easier for me to focus. Being surrounded by other makers is also really lovely, as we often chat about work we’re doing, or the ins and outs of running a small business.
Making chains is one of my favourite things to do. Hand fabricating each link from wire is time consuming but it’s really satisfying to make something completely from scratch and have the entire thing be the product of your effort.
I closed the workshop during lockdown. But because I’d done a wax carving course at the Nottingham Jewellery School in February, I’ve been able to continue creating at home, as I can work with wax without needing all of my tools. So I’ve spent the time at home practising the new techniques I’d learned and working on a small collection of statement rings.
My favourite tool is my piercing saw. I’ve spent so much time with it that I can’t seem to let it go.Harriet Ward, Eightfourteen Silver
Every crafter has their favourite tools and techniques. Which are your favourites?
My favourite tool is my piercing saw. It’s not fancy, and I could upgrade it, but I’ve spent so much time with it that I can’t seem to let it go. I feel the same about my battered workbench. I bought it cheap online years ago, and it’s lived in multiple houses and even survived an international move!
What do you do to relax and clear your mind when you’re not working?
When I’m not at the workshop I can often be found in Cannock Chase forest. I lived in California for three years where I joined a running club. They introduced me to trail running and I’ve been on a mission to get outside as much as possible since! There’s something special about being among the trees or above the clouds first thing in the morning. I really love the experience of clearing your mind – all that you’re thinking about is where you’re putting your feet.
It’s fantastic when someone cherishes what you made for them.Harriet Ward, Eightfourteen Silver
I love finding unusual gifts from independent sellers, as they’re always so unique. What’s your favourite handmade purchase?
My favourite handmade purchase was actually a gift from my husband. For my 30th birthday he commissioned a custom leather bag to be made for me and I use it almost every day. It was made by Rogue Journeymen, which is the leather goods brand of an amazing shop in a cabin in the hills of Topanga, just outside Los Angeles. They had recently started making leather and canvas goods from reclaimed materials, and he talked them into making a personalised bag for me! I like that it has a connection to somewhere that meant something to us, and I think it feels extra special as I know how much thought has to go into custom work.
I make a lot of jewellery to order and the design process can sometimes take more time than the actual making, but it’s fantastic when someone cherishes what you made for them.
What does being a maker mean to me? It means I’m forever washing dusty jeans and my hands are always destroyed!
What does being a maker mean to you?
It means I’m forever washing dusty jeans and my hands are always destroyed! But it also means that every day I get to make something that might make someone happy. There’s something very satisfying about starting the day with just a few materials, and using my skills and tools, along with some imagination, to create something that didn’t exist a few hours ago.
At some point I’d like to create a dedicated polishing space in my workshop so that I can control all the dust a bit better, and maybe add another poster of David Bowie.Harriet Ward, Eightfourteen Silver
What plans do you have for the future? Are there any new ideas or collections you’ve been working on during lockdown?
Lockdown involved a lot of sketching ideas for me. I’ve been referring to my sketchbook when planning new pieces, and the threader earrings are a new style that came from that. My plans for the future include learning more and developing new techniques. There’s always something new (or old) to try. I’d like to use more mixed materials, and maybe spend some time experimenting with enamelling. At some point I’d like to create a dedicated polishing space in my workshop so that I can control all the dust a bit better, and maybe add another poster of David Bowie.
Treat yourself to 15% off Eightfourteen Silver until 16th August 2020 with the code FOLKSY15
Meet the Interviewer
The maker asking the questions this week is printmaker Carrie Lyall from Rose & Hen. You can find Rose & Hen on Folksy here https://folksy.com/shops/RoseandHen and read more about her in our Meet the Maker interview – https://blog.folksy.com/2020/07/21/rose-and-hen