Gah, I’m so annoyed I’m not in London for Fashioned: an exhibition from Craft Central running alongside London Fashion Week. Featuring 25 designer-makers who cross the ‘boundary’ between craft and fashion, I’m so pleased to see UK-made accessories, clothing and jewellery that are such a vital part of our fashion industry being taken as seriously as those showing at LFW. In honour of this, I interviewed Emma Calvert, a jewellery designer whose work I first noticed at MADE London (whilst interviewing Annabelle Lucilla Hastings). Her incredible woven neon necklaces first caught my eye and I’m excited to see her new collection which is launching at Fashioned this week.
Thanks for coming online to chat with me. How are you?
I’m fine thanks, just doing last minute invitations for the show next week!
Ohhh, how exciting! I think I saw there’s a press event – are the invites for that?
No, doing ones for the private view which is happening straight after the press event.
How are you feeling about Fashioned? It seems like such a great idea tying fashion and designer-makers together (at last!) I really feel that people will respond really positively to it.
Really excited! I agree, I think that there’s definitely been a move towards craft in fashion. I’d love to collaborate with a fashion designer sometime!
That would be amazing. Is there a particular designer you would love to work with?
Missoni would be high on the list! Adore their use of colour and textiles.
Emma’s newest collection: loom-woven silk necklace. I want it!
Me too, I’m really trying to embrace colour myself a lot more which is one of the reasons I was initially so attracted to your woven necklaces. I’ve seen the pictures you’ve shared of your new collection and saw that the colours are more muted – so beautiful. Was it an intentional decision to move away from brights?
Yes, although I’m not giving up on the neon colours completely!
I’ve really started to see that putting colours together in the most impactful but natural way is a real science!
I think my textile background has helped so much in my colour choices as well as techniques.
So can you tell me a bit about how your own business came about please? Was it always the game plan to work for yourself creating jewellery?
Yeh, even when I made the decision to study textile design, all I really wanted to do was make jewellery! So I did a few short courses in jewellery making in my holidays at uni and when i graduated I interned at Vivienne Westwood in the jewellery department which eventually led to a job there. But it wasn’t a creative role so after a couple of years I decided to leave London and move to Bournemouth to start my business. But it’s really been since I was part of Crafts Council’s Hothouse program last year that I’ve made the decision to push the jewellery instead of it coming second to everything else!
As for the jewellery itself – it began with my final major project at university, where I decided to create three dimensional woven fabrics for jewellery – then came back to the idea but working without a loom and that’s how I came to use knotting and braiding (although now I’ve got a loom which is what part of the new collection is woven on!)
I was going to ask about the Hothouse programme actually. Can you tell me more about it and how’s it’s helped you?
Hothouse was amazing! It came at exactly the right time for me – to suddenly be part of a network rather than an individual working from my home studio was fantastic. I’d never really considered the business aspect before and it was great having the time and meeting people who could help and give you direction.
I love that you now have the option of working with a loom too, the necklace from your new collection photo looks absolutely incredible! And very time-consuming! Is it more or less time consuming than making by hand?
It’s the preparation before you can actually start weaving which takes a long time! By hand, I just measure the ribbons and start braiding, but on the loom I have to prepare a warp (measuring, dying, threading and winding) and then I get to start making! It’s time consuming but quite therapeutic! (fellow weaver Holly Berry mentioned this too – Verity)
It sounds really satisfying though, I know I’d love to play around with a loom and at some point create a finished product. Is there anywhere or anything in particular you are drawing inspiration from at the moment? Blogs/magazines or other designers?
My sketchbook at the moment is full of my trip to Palermo and Cefalu in Sicily (went there just over a year ago) – I found the colours so intense but then contrasting with cool stone and colours bleached by the sun. I also find a lot of inspiration in old buildings – particularly churches and cathedrals, i find it fascinating how intricate and colourful they are and how much energy went into building and decorating them.
I love Dolce and Gabbana’s recent collections based on Sicily and how they’ve taken the craftsmanship and traditions.
Even your description’s are inspiring Emma! I’m excited to see what other creations they lead to. Speaking of which, what are your plans for the future?
Short term plans are to develop the loom woven necklaces into a full collection and to combine more of the hand-weaving with the braiding.
Well, that sounds pretty good to me! One last one – what do you get up to when you’re not making? Any other hobbies or activities that take your mind away from work?
Yoga 🙂 But in the summer I love paddle boarding and just being down on the beach (the benefits of living by the sea!). I also spend quite a bit of time in London – visiting exhibitions and soaking up city life! I miss the buzz of London!!!
I can’t lie, I’m a bit jealous of how lovely that all sounds – it’s amazing how much more chilled out life is outside of London! Thank you so much for your time and patience Emma. Definitely not the same as speaking face to face though. (We used Google ‘Hangout’ for this chat. With a two minute delay between each question, ha!)
Thanks Verity! Was lovely to speak to you.
Emma Calvert mini woven bracelet in neon and mint // £49
You can discover more about Emma’s work and upcoming projects on her website, Facebook and Tweet-Tweet Twitter! Online stockists include FAO Shop (a new discovery for me that I’m about to spend a lot of time exploring) and Made by hand online. And if you want to find out more about what Craft Council are about, have a peek here. Enjoy Fashioned Emma! And anyone in London, go visit the exhibition and tell me all about it please.