Beginners Jewellery Classes have Landed at Claire Brooks Studio Gallery

After only a month of trade at my brand spanking new Studio Gallery, Glenelg South, the response from my local community has been overwhelmingly positive and I am so thrilled. Thank you so much to everyone who has managed to make their way down for a visit, it has been wonderful to see a few familiar faces and meet so many lovely people who have dropped by.

As many of you know, I have spent much of the past few years preparing to establish a teaching space which would bring community members together by sharing the joy of creating their own handmade jewellery. My plans were small to begin with but, after a generously supported crowd funding campaign and the decision to open a Studio Gallery, my plans got bigger and better than I ever could have imagined. Now finally, I am so pleased to announce that we’ve done it - jewellery classes are now available at Claire Brooks Studio Gallery!

The new teaching space is bright and inviting. Students will create their masterpieces on this beautiful table, handcrafted by local furniture designer, Steve Soeffky.

The new teaching space is bright and inviting. Students will create their masterpieces on this beautiful table, handcrafted by local furniture designer, Steve Soeffky.

As a bit of a taster, I will be running two one day classes before Christmas and I have a whole lot more planned for 2019. The first two classes are for beginners and will introduce students to the art of handmade jewellery through earring making and the ancient technique of bezel setting. Class sizes are limited to only six people, meaning that you will have plenty of one on one attention and the teaching space is beautifully light filled, leafy and inspiring. In order to run each class I need at least four students, so sign up now and bring a friend or family member.

Classes Available

Bezel Set Pendant in a Day with Claire Brooks.jpeg

Make Your Own Bezel Set Pendant

Calling all gemstone lovers! Join me in my beautiful new studio gallery in Glenelg South for this full day workshop and let me teach you how to set your own cabochon stone into a handmade pendant. This course is perfect for beginners or a great excuse for those who have jewellery making experience to get back into basic stone setting.

Make Your Own Earrings with Claire Brooks.jpeg

Make Your Own Earrings

Are you an earring lover who wants to take your collection to the next level? During this class you will work within the intimate, six person workshop space at my new Studio Gallery in Glenelg South, to design and make your own earrings. Each student should leave with at least one of earrings, learning some great skills.

Give the gift of creativity this festive season. If you would like to gift a class to a friend or someone you love, please contact me for more details.

A Bespoke Necklace for a Very Special Lady

Choosing to be a contemporary jeweller is certainly the road less travelled as far as career paths go. The journey is long, thoroughly rewarding and cannot be travelled alone. I am extremely lucky to have a great group of family and friends who have helped me along the way and if there’s one person who’s always had faith in my ability to turn my passion into a self-sustaining career, it is my lovely Mother.

Given our close relationship and shared passion for jewellery, Mum is usually the lucky recipient of my new prototypes or any pieces that never quite makes it to market for one reason or another. Though she is always very grateful, on the odd occasion I also like to take the time to make her a specially designed bespoke piece, and late last year I did just that.

Poor Mum has spent many hours being dragged along for yet another beach collecting expedition and as a result has become quite the fan of my Plastic Soup jewellery. Over the years she has developed an eagle eye for microplastics and at times gets more exciting than I do when she finds ‘a good one.’ It seemed only fitting that her next piece was to be a Plastic Soup necklace.

When constructing my Plastic Soup or Interlace Adornment, I always begin with a pile of sticks which I cut, file level and sand. I then create the tiny little boxes which will contain a precious collection of microplastics.

It all starts with a pile of silver sticks.

It all starts with a pile of silver sticks.

The box shapes are loosely based on the shapes of phytoplankton: the tiny organisms which sea creatures believe they are eating when in fact, they are ingesting microplastics. For mum’s piece, we decided on circular boxes and so I constructed a variety of sizes to suit the necklace.

To form the tiny windows of the boxes, I have sourced industry offcuts of thin acrylic which I use sparingly to minimise my contribution to the plastic problem. I hand cut the acrylic and then file it until it fits perfectly within the outer ring shape. I then create another, slightly smaller ring which sits within the large ring and forms a ledge for the acrylic to rest on to avoid crushing the tiny plastic fragments within.

Each box is originally made from flat sheet silver which I bend into a ring to form the circular shapes. To be able to solder the inner and outer ring together, one has to fit perfectly within the other.

Each box is originally made from flat sheet silver which I bend into a ring to form the circular shapes. To be able to solder the inner and outer ring together, one has to fit perfectly within the other.

The boxes fit just right and are ready to be soldered together.

The boxes fit just right and are ready to be soldered together.

Once all the components are ready, I bring them to the soldering bench. I first create a seaweed like structure to form the geometric foundation of the piece, then strategically position each box on the structure to give the illusion of the plastics being snagged within a seaweed tangle. As all of the Plastic Soup pieces are handmade and unique, they will sometimes come together perfectly and other times look a little unbalanced. At this point I will cut pieces off and reposition the components until I am satisfied with the composition.

The beginnings of an interlacing seaweed structure (and some earrings on the side).

The beginnings of an interlacing seaweed structure (and some earrings on the side).

Once the seaweed framework is constructed, I begin to play with a very sophisticated tacking substance (blutack) to experiment with the position of the boxes.

Once the seaweed framework is constructed, I begin to play with a very sophisticated tacking substance (blutack) to experiment with the position of the boxes.

Choosing where to hang the seaweed structure from can be a little tricky and it is always important to ensure that the piece hangs well when worn. Once I have decided on a suitable position, I attach the chain, check that all of my joins are well soldered and then construction is complete.

Now that the boxes are soldered in place and the pendant is well balanced on the chain, the piece is ready for filing and sanding.

Now that the boxes are soldered in place and the pendant is well balanced on the chain, the piece is ready for filing and sanding.

From there the most time consuming part of the process begins: clean-up. I file off any excess solder and scratches to the surface of the metal then sand the piece to remove the file marks. Any surface scratches will distract from the overall effect of the whole piece so I really take my time, spending days to ensure that the finish is consistent. This can be rather fiddly given the intricacy of the interlacing structure and so I have developed a range of tiny sanding tools to access those hard to reach places.

Once I am completely satisfied with the finish, I blacken the necklace and begin to choose the precious but deadly plastic collection to sit within the boxes: In this case, turquoise, blues and greens.

A freshly blackened seaweed structure ready for setting.

A freshly blackened seaweed structure ready for setting.

I then dust the piece and set the acrylic on the underside of the boxes. From there I carefully place the tiny collection of microplastics in their new home and close the lid. The protective tape is removed from the acrylic and the final piece is revealed.

The finished necklace all ready to wear. Photograph courtesy of  Bianca Hoffrichter .

The finished necklace all ready to wear. Photograph courtesy of Bianca Hoffrichter.

It was a little while in the making but Mum was thrilled when she received her bespoke Plastic Soup Necklace. The colours and length of the chain suited her perfectly and she ‘feels wonderful wearing the piece.’ It means so much to me to have her support and knowing how proud she feels when wearing my jewellery makes my day. Thanks Mum!

If you would like to commission a Plastic Soup piece of your very own, please contact me to make an appointment.