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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Silversmith me: Jewellery upcycling workshop at the Papered Parlour

Grandma’s brooch with the broken pin is no longer confined to the jewellery box, but swinging on a chain in its new life as a necklace. The Papered Parlour’s silversmithing class is full of little histories given a new lease of life. With illustrations by Naomi Law, Madi and Avril Kelly.

Written by Jessica Furseth

Ada Zanditon A/W 2010 Echolocation
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 The Cryoflux by Ankolie
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 The Cryoflux by Ankolie.

I cannot tell a lie: I went into Ada Zanditon‘s presentation with high hopes, order especially after I ran a huge pre LFW interview with her describing what to expect from new collection The Cryoflux.

Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 The Cryoflux by Ankolie
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 The Cryoflux by Ankolie.

Ada Zanditon The CryofluxAda Zanditon A-W 2011
Ada Zanditon deep in conversation.

On entry to the On/Off space I was ushered towards already packed seats. Ada was deep in conversation on the front row but it was unclear what was going to happen until she urged those near her to get up and touch the clothes, arranged on a series of awkward mannequins across one half of the room. At which point everybody got out of their seats and descended on the area at the front, immediately blocking the wall just as her short film started playing. I looked at the clothes briefly, then tried in vain to watch The Cryoflux film over a sea of heads before leaving for another show.

Ada Zanditon The Cryoflux film faceAda Zanditon The Cryoflux film

This was a compact collection compared with previous seasons. Taking inspiration from the extreme climate in Antarctica The Cryoflux features plenty of complex pyramidal cutting, a technique for which Ada Zanditon has become well known. We have already run multiple images of the gorgeous orange red ‘flame’ wool coat, which picks up on a key colour theme for the next season, but the dominant colouring of The Cryoflux was icy blues, whites and a deep navy.

Ada_Zanditon CryofluxAda_Zanditon Cryoflux

My favourite piece was the stunning showpiece dress, replete with a layered waterfall of printed silk inspired by frozen ice formations. I was also struck by a particularly beautiful geometric necklace, another collaboration with Luca Romanyi.

Ada Zanditon The Cryoflux jewellery
Ada Zanditon The Cryoflux jewellery in collaboration with Luca Romanyi.

We have been massive supporters of Ada Zanditon for several years now and we were blown away by her show last season. In short I really like Ada’s design aesthetic and ethical outlook… but I’m afraid that this proved to me once and for all that presentations are a difficult beast to get right. She had spoken of her desire for people to get up close and personal with the collection, which is all well and good, but journalists want good images, and it’s very hard for mannequins to provide this – pretty girls in pretty clothes will always win head and shoulders over a bony angled mannequin, however bony said girls are likely themselves to be. It felt as though this presentation was aimed at the needs of buyers rather than press.

As for the promise of a surprise when we entered the room, I still have no idea what this was, though other people have assured me that there was an ice sculpture in the room somewhere. I never saw it, thanks to the density of the crowd in attendance. Despite Ada’s protestations that this was the best possible way to showcase her A/W 2011 collection I left feeling sadly underwhelmed. Please bring back live models next season Ada!

You can read more about Ada’s views on sustainability here, and she does of course feature in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration.
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 The Cryoflux by Ankolie
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 The Cryoflux by Ankolie.

I cannot tell a lie: I went into Ada Zanditon‘s presentation with high hopes, sale especially after I ran a huge pre LFW interview with her describing what to expect from new collection The Cryoflux.

Ada Zanditon The CryofluxAda Zanditon A-W 2011
Ada Zanditon deep in conversation.

On entry to the On/Off space I was ushered towards already packed seats. Ada was deep in conversation on the front row but it was unclear what was going to happen until she urged those near her to get up and touch the clothes, diagnosis arranged on a series of awkward mannequins across one half of the room. At which point everybody got out of their seats and descended on the area at the front, site immediately blocking the wall just as her short film started playing. I looked at the clothes briefly, then tried in vain to watch The Cryoflux film over a sea of heads before leaving for another show.

Ada Zanditon The Cryoflux film faceAda Zanditon The Cryoflux film

This was a compact collection compared with previous seasons. Taking inspiration from the extreme climate in Antarctica The Cryoflux features plenty of complex pyramidal cutting, a technique for which Ada Zanditon has become well known. We have already run multiple images of the gorgeous orange red ‘flame’ wool coat, which picks up on a key colour theme for the next season, but the dominant colouring of The Cryoflux was icy blues, whites and a deep navy.

Ada_Zanditon CryofluxAda_Zanditon Cryoflux

My favourite piece was the stunning showpiece dress, replete with a layered waterfall of printed silk inspired by frozen ice formations. I was also struck by a particularly beautiful geometric necklace, another collaboration with Luca Romanyi.

Ada Zanditon The Cryoflux jewellery
Ada Zanditon The Cryoflux jewellery in collaboration with Luca Romanyi.

We have been massive supporters of Ada Zanditon for several years now and we were blown away by her show last season. In short I really like Ada’s design aesthetic and ethical outlook… but I’m afraid that this proved to me once and for all that presentations are a difficult beast to get right. She had spoken of her desire for people to get up close and personal with the collection, which is all well and good, but journalists want good images, and it’s very hard for mannequins to provide this – pretty girls in pretty clothes will always win head and shoulders over a bony angled mannequin, however bony said girls are likely themselves to be. It felt as though this presentation was aimed at the needs of buyers rather than press.

Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 The Cryoflux by Ankolie
Ada Zanditon A/W 2011 The Cryoflux by Ankolie.

As for the promise of a surprise when we entered the room, I still have no idea what this was, though other people have assured me that there was an ice sculpture in the room somewhere. I never saw it, thanks to the density of the crowd in attendance. Despite Ada’s protestations that this was the best possible way to showcase her A/W 2011 collection I left feeling sadly underwhelmed. Please bring back live models next season Ada!

Ada Zanditon A/W 2010 EcholocationAda Zanditon A/W 2010 EcholocationAda Zanditon A/W 2010 Echolocation
Previous Ada Zanditon A/W 2010 collection Echolocation. Illustrations by Joana Faria.

You can read more about Ada’s views on sustainability here, and she does of course feature in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration.
Illustration by Avril Kelly

There’s something about coming out of the Tube in an area where you’ve never been before. I realise this is an extremely London-centric point, buy information pills but bear with me – when you find yourself spat out onto a brand new street it’s like discovering a different city. But then you look up and see the familiar roundel and you know that yes, malady it’s still London. It’s interesting how so many of us seem to come to London to experience all the variety, only to entrench ourselves in one specific part of the city. Some (who, me?) may even develop a few prejudices about certain other parts of the city too, as if London were some sort of microcosm of the world … Actually that last bit’s about right, isn’t it. ‘There is in London all that life can afford,’ Samuel Johnson famously said, and it’s very true. But still, going all the way to Clapham on a Saturday morning? South London? Really!

But last weekend I went to Clapham for the very first time, because that’s where the Papered Parlour is and I’d been looking forward to their silversmithing class for weeks. I surfaced from the Tube at Clapham Common, curiously peeking around while the nice man with the coffee cart ground beans from scratch to make my espresso. The Papered Parlour is just up the road, hidden behind a plain door in a side street. Claire and Louise, the workshop’s founders, weren’t there, but my fellow would-be smithers and I were welcomed by Hana and our teacher, Caren Hartley.

Upcycled jewellery by Madi

Jewellery upcycling, or recycling of old items, was the theme for last Saturday’s seminar. We each poured out our bags of old, neglected jewellery, hoping Caren would be able to help us make something usable out of it. I’d brought two rings I was hoping to fix, having broken both of them within weeks of each other after having worn them every day for years. I’d also brought some broken brooches my grandma had given me, as well as a few other pieces I wasn’t wearing. Having just told the group we could not use heat on any item that wasn’t pure silver or gold, Caren shook her head at my beloved moonstone ring. ‘You can’t heat anything with a gemstone as it will break,’ Caren said. Araldite glue it is, then.

My mother’s old floral pendant also got the brush-off from Caren: ‘That’s pewter, it would melt before you could do anything with it.’ This is the main danger when working with old jewellery, as you haven’t made it yourself and hence you can’t be completely sure about the metal composition. Caren studied the pendant, curved and prone to annoying swinging, concluding: ‘You could flatten it, with the mallet.’ Mallet! I was expecting delicate tools, tiny adjustments and boiling frustration, but it turns out silversmithing includes plenty of hammer action.

Caren Hartley

The next few hours went by in a flash. After my mallet fun I got the little pliers and snippers, changing the broken grandma brooches into pendants. Rough edges were smoothed down with the metal files – silver is quite soft when you’re working with it. Silversmithing is also a surprisingly dirty activity, with the suds from my hands running black as I washed before the cake break. It can be dangerous too – judging by the fact they made us sign some sort of release before letting us use the saw.

The blue flame by Naomi Law

Halfway through the day we were introduced to the blowtorch, used not only to join pieces of metal together but also to prepare silver to be worked on. Heating up the metal to reach ‘the cherry red temperature’ loosens the molecules within the silver, Caren explained, meaning you can work on it. My main task with the blowtorch was to mend my ring, a little lady who wraps her legs around your finger. I’d got the ring half price at a craft fair nearly ten years ago, and worn it every day until the poor girl broke her leg. High street silversmiths haven’t seemed very keen on sorting this for me though, and now that I’ve seen how it’s done I can see why: it’s fiddly.

I put on the leather apron and the protective goggles, ready for the big moment. ‘Now, angle the flame away from me, as I will be holding the leg piece,’ Caren said as I lit the torch, wondering if she gets paid extra if a student maims her. But as the little lady turned cherry under the blue flame, everyone’s digits remained intact and the metal leg was back where it belonged. Okay, so it sticks out a bit more than it did before, but a little tap of the hammer and Bob’s your uncle.

Caren and Eva by Avril Kelly

I left the Papered Parlour with eight new pieces of jewellery, having altered or mended old things I either couldn’t or wouldn’t wear. My hands were aching as I counted up change for another espresso from the cart, about to go back to the familiar side of the river. As I stood on the platform waiting for my train, I absent-mindedly ran my thumb along the lady-ring. She’s back, and I fixed her all by myself.

Result!

The Papered Parlour is in Clapham: 7 Prescott Place, London SW4 6BS. For more information about the spring workshop schedule see our listing – there are more silversmithing workshops to come, plus printmaking, sewing, photography, quilting and how to make your own shoes. Also, the Papered Parlour is putting on two mini-festivals at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green this spring: ‘Ethical fashion in the age of austerity’ is tonight (3 March) and ‘It’s your write!’ is next month (7 April) – for more details see our listing here.

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4 Responses to “Silversmith me: Jewellery upcycling workshop at the Papered Parlour”

  1. [...] Silversmith me Posted on March 3, 2011 by Jess Published in Amelia’s Magazine 3 March 2011. Original article here. [...]

  2. I’m an avid upcycler and hoarder of vintage treasure. This blog post perfectly captures the joy of making something by hand, and salvaging a precious keepsake from the bottom of your jewellery box.

    I’m also completely in love with the Papered Parlour’s workspace. Want!

    x

  3. Jess says:

    yes i know, it’s the sort of workshop that makes you think you can CREATE things. light, space, good air etc … ah!

  4. [...] Caren also offers workshops to teach her skills to eager arty types! Caren has been featured in Amelia’s magazine in a lovely article so take a peek at her [...]

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