Alice Robson – A Lifetime of Learning

I was first introduced to jewellery making when I was doing my A’Levels back in 1987. Wednesday afternoons at Cranbrook school were dedicated to ‘Activities’ and over the course of two terms my fascination and love for the craft evolved.

I’d love to find the lady who ran that workshop so I could thank her because, despite having no experience, I embarked on a project that today I would still be proud off. Under some great instruction, I made a small hexagonal silver box with a domed lid. It still sits proudly on my mum’s mantelpiece today! So, my love of boxes goes right back to my first work.

After doing an art foundation course at Hastings, I went on to gain a BA (Hons) degree in Jewellery Design at Central Saint Martins. Before I’d even finished my course, I secured a job at Dinny Hall’s workshop, and then later went on to do a short stint at John Donalds studio. Both jewellers are major figures in the world of jewellery, being both highly influential, and selling internationally for many years.

There are influences from both Dinny and John in my work today. From Dinny I learned how to approach putting a collection together. Finding a pattern, shape or design that can be repeated is a full-proof method for creating a cohesive collection. Working at John Donald’s, I was given the opportunity to work with gold and precious stones, despite having little experience at the time. Getting good at something takes many hours/years of work, but I try not to shy away from the challenges. In this industry you never stop learning.

When I was 25, I had a bit of a break from jewellery (10 years actually). I spent much of that time working in sales and marketing roles, as well as having children. I am sure that the sales and marketing experience I had have been a big plus in my success. I also know that when I came back to jewellery making in my mid-thirties, I had a renewed passion and confidence that I didn’t have before.

I’m married to an architect and slowly but surely those architectural influences have seeped into my work. I also like to add a touch of playfulness into my pieces too, where possible.

This translates to jewellery that moves when you wear it or has an engineering element, like tiny-hinged boxes. As well as keeping it simple and contemporary, I love working with gemstones and this is where the years of building skills, a ‘having a go’ attitude and lots and lots of practice comes in to play. Setting geometric stones is one of the skills I’m trying to master, the corners are so fragile that one wrong move and you’ve broken the stone, and I have broken quite a few along the way!

I would also describe myself as a serial maker! If I’m not making jewellery, I’m making something else – making clothes or bags, and my latest passion is leather work. I’m hoping to introduce some leather into my collections in the near future. Firstly, I think some beautiful belts with handmade silver buckles, so watch this space.

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