Every month we feature a ‘Pick of the Month’ from the Shop on the blog to find out more about the artists and makers of the beautiful arts and crafts, jewellery and handmade products that we stock in our Shop. This month’s pick is the stunning and unique jewellery by Oorla Morgan. We spoke to Oorla to find out more about what inspires her.
After studying a degree in Art, how did your career develop as a jewellery maker?
After graduating I became a primary school and art teacher and spent my spare time making mosaics and silk painting, drawn by the jewel like colours. I liked to embellish my work with tiny sparkling beads and stitches and spent many happy hours browsing in the bead shop in Covent Garden! I’m a bit of a magpie! I began to make tiaras and bridal jewellery for friends and family alongside my day job and it grew from there really. In 2010 I set up Oorla Jewellery as a full time business. I was lucky enough to be asked to teach jewellery making at The Medicine Garden in Cobham and when they opened their artist’s co-operative gallery (The Art Shed), I was offered a permanent space to sell my work there.
What inspires your designs?
I’m constantly inspired by the colours, patterns and textures in nature. I am really fascinated by how colours work together and can make each other sing. I love the way colour can affect your mood.
Museums and exhibitions also inspire; the Alexander McQueen exhibition was amazing! The V&A jewellery collection is a constant source of inspiration - I could spend days in there gazing at the ancient jewellery.
I also love rummaging around at antique fairs and markets which is how my vintage range came to be.
You say that you have a fascination with close detail, how does this translate in your work?
Pattern in nature is imperfect and always slightly irregular and yet it looks so beautiful. You don’t notice the variations in size, shape and colour until you look really closely. There is a warmth and character in imperfection which, I think, adds to the beauty of anything. I enjoy macro photography and it’s only when you get really close up that you see the tiny variations in shape and colour; you can focus on tiny levels of detail that enable you to see how something is made.
I like to reproduce that organic feel in my work by cold forging the metal components myself so each piece is unique. For the same reason I use natural hand cut gemstones in much of my work. The variations in colour and shape add to the organic feel of each piece.
Can you explain the process behind making a piece of jewellery, from idea to finished product?
Each season I look at current trends and colour forecasts and bear them in mind. I have an idea of the colours, shapes and styles I’d like to use. When I select a particular gemstone, I am already imagining how I can use it in a piece of jewellery. I don’t often sketch out my designs beforehand, it’s more of a trial and error process. Where will it sit best? How can I frame it, suspend it or join the components so that the beauty of the gem is seen to its full advantage? How can I change these materials into something wearable and beautiful that enhance each element? Then I tweak the design until it works. I usually have a few variations of a piece which get whittled down to the final version after feedback from my clients and stockists.
You have taught art in the past and also run jewellery making workshops, what do you enjoy about teaching?
Enabling someone to do something they never thought possible by breaking down the process into tiny steps and guiding them through it is a powerful thing. It’s about learning to look. Once you can look beyond the whole and see the tiny details then you understand the elements that make up a whole. You can practise the techniques used and apply them to create something totally new and unique. That’s magical.
My favourite course to teach is the upcycling where clients bring their old broken and/or inherited jewellery and we make it into something new and beautiful. Some people have brought pieces with great sentimental value that they remember a relative wearing and we have designed and made something contemporary that they feel proud to wear. That’s very special.
Thank you to Oorla for chatting with us! A selection of Oorla Morgan’s jewellery is available to buy in our Shop.
Find out more about Oorla Jewellery and Oorla’s jewellery making workshops here
Image credits: All images © Oorla Jewellery