Behind the Scenes

Charlotte Tabor - Kent jewellery designer/maker

Charlotte's been making jewellery for 10 years and she designs and makes jewellery she enjoys wearing.  She's not one for polishing her jewellery on a regular basis so she wanted to make pieces that if you don't polish them it doesn't matter and that is where recreating the texture and feel of tree bark is useful because as the silver oxidised it enhances the texture and adds to the character of her pieces over time.  Also with our busy lives if you scratch it it isn't the end of the world.  However if you do like the polished look it's very easy to clean.  

So how does Charlotte create her texture?

 

1950's handmade pendant drill

Working from a small shed at the bottom of her garden which is surrounded by 5 acres of orchards and garden Charlotte uses many tools which have been passed down from her father in law including an African hard wood workbench and a pillar drill he made back in the 1950's.  Many of her files are from him along with other tools she has no idea what they are and sadly he's no longer around to ask. 

 

The majority of Charlotte's pieces begin in the form of a specialist blue coloured wax used by jewellers.  There are many tools Charlotte uses but her main ones to create her signature style are wood working tools.  These are great to carve the tree bark texture and depending on the sharpness of her tools, the temperature of her wax and her mood the style of the bark effect comes to life.  A lighter is also one of her favourite tools as it softens the edges and changes the character of her wax pieces. 

Once Charlotte is happy with the wax they are sent to London to be cast by specialists using the lost wax casting process.  At the casters her pieces will be added to a conical tree, after which plaster of Paris is poured over them.  When this has set the container is put into a hot kiln and the wax burns away leaving the space of the wax behind.  Very hot molten metal is then poured into holes left by the wax and a special machine is used to ensure the metal reaches all the crevices of the tree bark texture.  The casting are then sent back to Charlotte to sand, combine with other precious metals/gemstones and polished ready to be worn and enjoyed.

The photos below show the wax and the finished pieces of some of the commissions Charlotte's made.  It's amazing what can be done in wax and then cast in metal which you wouldn't be able to do in sheets of silver.

Wax carved tree bark dinner table centre pieceSterling silver tree bark log box
Wax for a bronze torqueBronze tree bark torque