Earlier this year I launched the first phase of my new homeware range, a collection of trinket dishes and coasters, all handmade in my Croydon studio. These new products represent an exciting new phase of my design journey. Using a material called jesmonite, I can now control the design and making process from start to finish, allowing me endless creative possibilities.
In this blog, I want to give a behind the scenes look at how I am using jesmonite to experiment, play and create new and exciting designs.
Collaborating with designers.
I love to collaborate with other designers and makers, and up until covid hit, this was a major source of inspiration for me. Working collaboratively allows me to learn about a different discipline and work behind the scenes in another maker's studio, we also get to share ideas, play to our strengths and it's a great introduction to a new customer base. In the past I've collaborated with many people, including Libby Ballard, Camilla Webb Carter , Skinny Vinny and MWMakes.
When covid struck, the lockdown restrictions made this way of working almost impossible. This pushed me to research other methods of production which didn't require kilns or other specialist machines which I didn't have access to.
At the time I was exploring new ideas for a new range of homewares. I wanted to produce durable and tactile pieces, and I needed a production technique that would give me vibrant colours and a clean finish. This line of investigation lead me to discover jesmonite.
What is Jesmonite?
Jesmonite is a fantastic material. It's a bit like plaster of Paris, whereby you mix a powder with a liquid to create a fluid which you can then pour into a mould. It's been around since the 1980’s, and has been widely used for making stage and film props. It has now become very popular among designer makers and was named 'Material of the Year' in 2017 at the London Design Fair. It's not surprising. Jesmonite is a versatile, non toxic and easy to use material, that sets quickly and has a low environmental impact.
(Tip: During lockdown, jesmonite was pretty hard to come by. I managed to purchase from Flints, a stage and film prop supplier).
Jesmonite also mixes extremely with pigment powders, which come in a wide range of colours. The ease of use, combined with the possibility to experiment with colour and tone, was nothing short of liberating for me. This process offers me a new level of creative freedom, allowing me to experiment with form, scale and colour all at once.
Creating homeware pieces with jesmonite.
Form and colour are so important in my product development.
Form is the beauty and utility of an object. It takes into account scale and weight, but also how something is used and how it can be made. For my jesmonite homewares, I wanted to start small, with everyday objects that are often under-considered. I began with coasters and trinket dishes, similar items with very different uses. I began by experimenting with different sized moulds, of varying depth and shapes - testing each one, using it for a few days and refining the shape and size as I went. This process of trial and test is really important as it allows me to craft the object down to the last detail. I know it's right when it looks good, but also feels good too.
Colour is central to everything I do. The way I use it is very personal to me. It’s how I express mood and memory, transporting me to the place where I first discovered a certain colour combination or tone. No matter what kind of product I am designing, colour will always be vital for my creative process. Jesmonite can be coloured in endless ways, a dream come true for me.
Once I had my final coaster and dish forms, I began a series of colour tests, trying out different pigments and pouring techniques. The colour exploration really came to life when I started to reference an earlier collection of mine, 'Skye’. These designs were inspired by the Scottish landscapes, and recreating them in jesmonite required some abstraction but also a lot of control. I also developed a much looser marble technique, inspired by a book jacket marbling workshop I did in 2019. Both techniques were developed into the final collection of trinket dishes and coasters.
Inspired by the epic landscapes of Scotland, these coasters are a mini artwork for your table. Each one is fitted with rubber feet to prevent them marking your table, and is coated and sealed making them easy to wipe clean
These practical dishes are perfect for storing your favourite jewellery or other small trinkets. I love the colour palette, perfect for adding a pop of brightness to your dressing table!
The end results can be found on my website here. Each piece is individually hand-poured, and one of a kind.