With sophisticated button necklaces and silver peapod earrings, Caroline Thomson draws inspiration from both everyday items and nature, transforming simple things into remarkably delicate and beautiful pieces of jewellery.
Silver jewellery detail © Caroline Thomson
How do you decide what will inspire a particular piece of jewellery?
I’ve loved nature since I was a child and I always looked forward to a walk in the woods or along the river bank to see what treasures I could find. I used to collect all sorts of seeds such as acorns and laburnum pods. They just used to fascinate me. With the buttons; my Mum used to make her own clothes, and some of mine, and she had a tin full of all sorts of buttons. I used to love to get them all out and inspect them. I like to go to vintage markets and shops to look for inspiration for ideas to make new pieces of jewellery, so really whatever takes my fancy at any particular time.
What made you want to become a jewellery designer? How long have you been creating jewellery?
I’ve been making jewellery for about 12 years now. I started by doing a silversmithing course in Bracknell which I really enjoyed. I kept signing up for more classes as I enjoyed doing it so much. I’ve always been creative and silversmithing allowed me to unleash the artist in me I suppose.
Silver pendant details © Caroline Thomson
How would you describe the silversmithing process?
Silversmithing is forming objects by using heat to make the silver pliable and then using various tools such as hammers to manipulate the silver into different shapes. There are other processes too such as casting (creating a mould), or piercing (using a saw).
What is your design process?
I always have a pad and pen with me so I can sketch ideas that come to me, then I look over the sketches again and play about with the design. Some things work and some things don’t.
People always want to know how long it takes to create a piece of jewellery but I tend to work on several pieces at a time, so it’s difficult to say. Whilst one piece is being hardened in the barrel polisher (a barrel filled with metal shot or balls and special liquid and used to increase durability) I’ll perhaps be soldering another piece – fusing two pieces of silver by applying a small piece of solder across the join and applying heat from a blowtorch. There’s never a dull moment as I’m able to do so many different processes at once.
What is your favourite piece of jewellery to make?
I love making stud earrings. It’s so satisfying soldering on ear posts to a row of earrings.
Silver stud earrings © Caroline Thomson
How would you advise someone looking to get into jewellery-making?
The great thing about jewellery-making is that there are so many different ways to do it. Do some research and see what’s out there. If it's silversmithing you're interested in, take a short course first and see if it’s for you or not. If it is, look into more courses and just go for it.
Who is your favourite designer? Why?
It’s so hard to choose. Can I have two?! I suppose it’s quite unusual that my favourite designers create totally different jewellery to what I make, but I love Elizabeth Gage and Margey Hirschey. Elizabeth Gage makes stunning gold rings with stones and enamel that really are works of art in themselves. Margery Hirschey uses beautiful stones set in gold to create wonderful pieces.
Silver necklace © Caroline Thomson
The Lightbox is delighted to display and sell Caroline's beautiful silver jewellery in the Shop on the Ground Floor of the building, home to a curated selection of local arts, crafts, jewellery, books and gifts. The ethos ensures support for local artists, showcasing handcrafted works from our favourite local and South East designer-makers.
Why not stop by on your next visit to The Lightbox and have a look?