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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Little Glass Clementine: an interview with luxury recycled jewellery designer Clementine James

From committed climate activist to creator of luxury recycled necklaces, Clementine James has led an intriguing life so far. Here's an extract of her interview to be found in Amelia's Compendium of Fashion Illustration.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Little Glass Clementine by Lesley Barnes
Little Glass Clementine by Lesley Barnes.

Why the name?
I made up the name when I was at my family home on the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland, where I collect endless pieces of sea polished glass from the beach. I combined that with my first name Clementine because I thought it was kind of sweet.

Where do you work from?
I used to live and work on a little leaking narrow boat by Springfield Park in north London. But I now have a proper studio in Dalston with a big work desk. Makes life a little easier – less rocking!

You aren’t a trained jewellery designer, so what prompted you to start Little Glass Clementine?
I taught myself to make jewellery so that I could support myself through my degree at SOAS, where I studied Anthropology and World Religions, and I ran stalls at the markets in Portobello and Camden for the best part of three years. Then I became busy restoring gypsy caravans and being a climate activist, but now I am in love with the discovery of beautiful antiques and unusual stones that I transform into sculptural necklaces. I quickly realised that my market is high-end, where my statement necklaces will be recognised as art.

How does showing at Estethica compare with working on a market stall?
It’s a bit like being back in the market, bantering with passers by, drinking coffee and chatting about my jewels. But with a few distinctive differences; there is no reggae playing, I’m not freezing cold, and my prices and pieces have changed – quite dramatically.

How do you put each necklace together?
I arrange all the components on an old piece of black velvet, making compositions out of the different objects and gems until I am satisfied. Then I start weaving them all together and hope very much I can recreate what I had when I laid them out. I only use wire and I never glue or make holes in the objects – so there is always a period while I’m working where everything looks like a big entangled mess. Strangely enough I am never convinced that a necklace is right until about five minutes before it is finished – when suddenly one stone, broach or button will bring the whole thing together…

Read the rest of this interview with Little Glass Clementine in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, alongside interviews with 44 other ethical fashion designers and 30 fabulous fashion illustrators. You can buy the book here.

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