Heather Scott - handmade jewellery made in Mawdesley
PUBLISHED: 00:05 17 November 2014
A jeweller who started in a garden shed has blossomed, creating beautiful contemporary designs, writes Alice Wilkinson
Most young women reaching their 21st birthday long for something special to arrive on the big day and Heather Scott was no exception. Her dream came true in the shape of a garden shed.
Inside, a sturdy wooden work bench, bruised and a little battered by days spent hammering, sawing and filing, provided clues to Heather’s world.
On this bench, she used traditional gold and silversmithing techniques to bring her beautiful contemporary jewellery designs to life. A bumble bee pendant no larger than a fingertip has finely veined wings so defined they could almost flutter and a stag’s head with scrupulously crafted antlers no thicker than pencil lead.
‘But there’s only so long you can go on working in a shed,’ she laughs and, in 2004, Heather secured a studio space at Cedar Farm Galleries in Mawdesley. She turned an empty shell of a studio into the charming workspace, showcasing elegant collections of silver and gold jewellery twinkling inside the free standing, softly lit glass cabinets.
Heather’s dexterity and love for making things dates back to her childhood when she was an avid embroiderer and instinctively drawn to using three-dimensional mediums in her artwork at school. Following this passion, she completed an art foundation course before studying jewellery design and metalwork at the University of Central Lancashire.
‘It was never my intention to specialise in jewellery making,’ says Heather. ‘I just wanted to do what I enjoyed most - using my hands and making things. It was only when I picked up a book from the University library that I became fascinated with the art of silversmithing.’ Heather invested her time in mastering the craft and, after graduating with first class honours in 2002, she began working on her first jewellery collection.
In a corner of her parents’ garden, inside the small wooden shed, Heather set up a workshop. She gathered her equipment; the workbench, a buffing wheel and a toolbox filled with files, tiny saws and pliers and displayed her handcrafted silverware at local galleries and craft fairs.
‘I love translating the form and shape of little creatures, insects and wildlife into jewellery,’ says Heather. Her work is mostly influenced by organic form and seasonal change but occasionally a customer will commission a piece that inspires a new range.
‘My lovebirds range was something I created after a customer had asked for a pendant of a silhouette of two birds facing each other.
‘After I had done one I experimented with different shapes, sizes and designs and the collection blossomed.’ She creates pieces that are fashionable and current but always in keeping with her unique, pretty and dainty style.
Heather used only to work in silver. Now she also uses white, rose and yellow gold and is always on the look out for new techniques. ‘Silver is still one of my favourite materials,’ she says. ‘But 18ct rose gold is also a lovely metal.’ She teams these precious metals with diamonds, pearls and semi precious stones.
Displayed on a wooden shelf in Heather’s studio, is a range of beautiful leather belts, bags and jewellery boxes, all hand stitched by her father, Peter. Having retired from a 45-year-long career as a butcher, Peter volunteered his services watching Heather’s shop one day a week. ‘I couldn’t stand just sitting here and not doing anything useful so I tried my hand at leatherwork.’ Peter attended a short course in this skills but he is predominantly self-taught and over the years he has built his own set of regular clientele.
‘Customers will bring things to me and ask “can you fix this?” or “can you make me one like this?” and if I have a close look at how it is stitched or folded. I can usually deliver.’
Peter’s presence in the shop has meant that Heather is able to juggle her business with her busy life at home with husband Ollie, daughter Florence, 5, and Mikey, 2.
Luckily though, her commute to work is just a five-minute walk or cycle through the fields that separate her studio in Mawdesley from her home in Bispham Green. The countryside that surrounds Cedar Farm Galleries means Heather will never be short of ideas for her organically-inspired designs.