Where do you work?
I design and make my ranges of jewellery and commission pieces at home in Lerwick in my spare time. My full time job is also creative as I am an Art & Design teacher.
Who or what do you draw inspiration from?
The inspiration for my designs comes from many sources such as the local environment and Shetland’s cultural history, ancient and modern. As well as a wider mix of influences from travel and an appreciation for the design traditions and trends of other cultures. I have always been fascinated by detail and miniature items, natural or manmade which I suppose ultimately lead me to choose to specialise in Jewellery Design at Art College.
My pieces often echo traditional forms or motifs that I translate into my own contemporary style. I take inspiration for the textures and colour palette of my work from Shetland’s landscape, coastline and wildlife.
My “Eyeland View” collection is inspired by “The Evil Eye” which is an ancient symbol widely used in art and design and worn as a symbol of protection against bad luck.
I have created my own contemporary version of a teardrop shaped eye motif and with in this design I incorporate elements or symbols to represent folklore and island life through shape and colour. For example “Tammie Norrie’s Eye Talisman'', “Eyeland View” and “Eye Sea'' which has a curled wave in the centre of the design. Other pieces in this collection are a wider play on words or sayings to do with eyes, like “Eye of the Storm” or “Birds Eye View” .
How do you work, what’s your process? What is your favourite part of the process?
Each piece of jewellery goes through many processes. I often start with a rough sketch of an idea and adjust and refine it in size or shape till I am happy with the overall design and how the elements work together. This is then drawn out on sheet Silver and any areas that are going to be cut out are drilled.So that the fine blade of a piercing saw can be threaded through to cut out shapes. Some pieces are completely hand fabricated and one off. While others incorporate cast elements and are produced in batches using the lost wax casting method.I add colour to some designs using enamels or gemstones.Each piece of Silver is filed and sanded before being soldered together. Once soldered the piece of jewellery has to be cleaned before being polished. It may also be stamped and hammered to create texture, pattern or form. The piece is given a final polish and then cleaned in a sonic tank to remove any grease before being put in a barrel polisher to create the final shine and to work harden the Silver.
My favourite parts of the making process are cutting out a new design for the first time and seeing it evolve and develop. I also love the final stage of opening up the barrel polishing machine as it’s always exciting to empty it out to reveal the new sparkling creations.
Do you have a favourite piece to make?
My wildlife wrap around rings are my favourite thing to make as each one is made from a single piece of Silver and there is no soldering involved. Although they do still go through seven processes. I love making them as they are stylised versions of iconic Shetland wildlife - otters, seals and puffins. Each one is slightly different and unique as the hand stamped or hammer decoration varies from piece to piece, giving them their own characters.I made the first version of my wrap around rings - a seahorse as an experiment for myself in 2012. When I wore it folk would comment on it and asked me to make them one. So that’s how this collection was born and I have been making them ever since. The rings are adjustable, durable and comfortable to wear and have proved to be one of my most successful and popular pieces alongside my “Eyeland View” collection of Sliver and enamel pendants.
How long does it tend to take you to complete a piece?
It depends what I’m making, smaller items take a couple of hours each.So I tend to make multiple pieces at a time in batches stage by stage as it’s a more efficient use of time and materials. But others such as larger scale commission pieces can take days to make from start to finish. But I like the challenge of creating something special and one-off that has meaning for the client as well as being a decorative and fuctional piece of jewellery.
What does your craft mean to you?
It’s part of me, it makes me happy, I find it relaxing and as it’s one of my favourite things to do. I like having the ability to create contemporary pieces using hand tools and techniques that have remained unchanged for centuries. It’s also lovely to see people wearing and enjoying my work and gain feedback from customers in person or online.
Art aside, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Appreciating the beatiful island I live on by going walking in all weathers and seasons. I quite happliy spend hours at the beach, seal or otter watching if I’m lucky, taking photographs and collecting tiny shells.
What is next for you?
To keep growing by continuing to try new techniques to add to my existing skills I intend to do more stone setting. I will be adding new designs to my collections, currently I’m working on more ring and earring designs for the Shetland Wildlife Totems range and my small workshop is due to be reroofed this summer so I can make better use of it throughout the winter.