Shared Terrain by Julia Storey
Julia Storey has added a new suite of rings and earrings to her incredible ‘Shared Terrain’ series. Here, she shares her inspirations & intricate techniques.
What inspired you to create the ‘Shared Terrain’ series?
To me shared terrain sums up a lot of my different ideas about jewellery. At its most literal, the technique creates this patchwork that reminded me of the earth viewed from a plane window. But as the first terrain pieces I made were wedding bands I was also thinking about relationships and memories as landscapes – the idea of shared histories both past and future, rings as physical markers of time and place, as symbols, as promises, as maps. I like the personal intimacy of the detail revealed in the pieces up close, whereas from a distance they might just be seen as a simpler shimmering texture.
How did you come up with the ‘patchwork’ process? Did it require a lot of experimentation?
It required a lot of experimentation and still does with each new design. I think the original idea was about wanting to somehow use colour and texture in jewellery like a painter would – that surprise you feel when you look up close at a painting, at an area of flat colour and find that it’s actually made up by all these unexpected variations and brushstrokes and tones. How could I get that feeling, without loosing the things I loved about working in precious metals?
I decided to use a variety of precious alloys to form the different colours and tones. I mixed metals, melted them into small ingots and rolled each one out to different widths and then cut them into very small pieces. Then I arranged the pieces on a base plate. Each of these alloys have differing melting temperatures and also spread differently when rolled – so I needed to be careful that certain metals were kept seperate. Also visually, it was important to me that the arrangement was carefully considered to maximise the contrast and overall. I then fixed all the pieces into place, rolled the bar to give a uniform surface, and formed the terrain bar into rings.
What do you think about when you are designing jewellery?
I tend to do my most creative thinking away from the bench, often when travelling or outside in nature I will find myself quickly sketching or taking notes.
When in my studio it’s usually more practical – thinking with my hands! Though I do some sketching on paper, mostly to work out design considerations, and I’ll rough out proportions in scrap metal. Wearability and longevity are really important to me so I spend a lot of time planning technically a pieces construction. I’ll often start a piece with a stone or satisfying combination of a few from my collection, and a new piece will almost appear around it. I’m hard on myself in the studio, some days it can be easy to remake old pieces but I push myself to experiment and try new things.
How would you like people to respond to your pieces?
While it is always nice for a piece to be appreciated on a technical level, by someone who understands the intricacies of its construction, I always hope for an intuitive reaction. I want the relationship to be intensely personal. I want them to live their life with my pieces and fill them up with meaning day by day. It’s the most incredible feeling to have someone choose one of my designs as an important, intimate marker in their life, and I take that responsibility very seriously. I put a lot of myself into my work, so there is room for the wearer to put a lot of themselves in too.