London Craft Week - Hannah Jackson
London Craft Week takes place from the 9th - 13th May. This annual event showcases exceptional craftsmanship with a curated programme of events in the capital. Expert craftsmanship remains at the heart of the Stephen Webster brand today and we are proud to celebrate this event as well as British creativity.
The Leopards mentorship programme offers young craftspeople and budding jewellery designers the opportunity to train in the workshops and studios of The London Leopards - Solange Azagury-Partridge, Susan Farmer, Theo Fennell, Shaun Leane, Stephen Webster and Carol Woolton. The winners designs are then produced under the guidance of the Leopards and sold at their own stores and boutiques where proceeds will be donated to The Prince’s Trust.
As it is London Craft Week what better person to speak to than Hannah who has just spent the past three months mastering new skills and jewellery design techniques with Stephen Webster and team.
Here's what the talented Hannah had to say about her time in the workshop at Stephen Webster.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Hannah Jackson, I started a jewellery business with the help of the Princes Trust 3 years ago called 'Hannah J Jewellery'. In 2017, my business mentor suggested I enter the Princes Trust Leopard Awards Competition. At the time I wasn't the correct age so I didn't apply, annoyingly I was 3 days too old! A couple of days before the competition closed I was informed the upper age limit had been raised and I was now eligible. I cancelled all my plans and spent the next 2 days trying to knock up a design as quickly as I could!
2. Why do you do what you do?
I love what I do. I fell in to it entirely by chance after getting ill at Uni, but couldn't be happier.
3. How did you become involved in jewellery making and what was your first route into it?
I very much fell in to it, completely by chance. I was at University studying Forensic Computing, planning for a very different career looking for extra ways to make money on the side, as I had just been diagnosed with a chronic illness and sadly had to quit my weekend job. After I graduated, my best friend Becky was diagnosed with Brain Cancer, and sadly lost her battle 18 months later. Her sister asked me to create memorial necklaces for them, which was a huge honour. I also created a set of necklaces for myself to remember Becky by. I really miss Becky, but she is up there looking out for me.
4. Tell us about the piece you made?
The piece I made is a rose gold vermeil London Underground inspired spinner pendant. The piece has a geometric hand engraved design on the front, inspired by another iconic piece of London – 'The Gherkin' and has been set with 6 diamonds, to represent the glass of 'The Gherkin'. The shape of the pendant has been inspired by the TFL London Underground logo, with the bar remaining static and the ring, spinning. I love jewellery that is kinetic, which is exactly what this piece is. The brief was to create a piece of jewellery inspired by the City of London, and there is nothing more iconically London than the London Underground and 'The Gherkin'.
5. How has the experience been for you?
The experience has been amazing. I'm going to be very sad to leave! I’ve learned a ton, and met very talented people. It has opened my eyes to fine jewellery, and has made me want to venture into that side of things.
6. Best part of the experience?
The best part of the experience has got to be learning with the countries best jewellers - and also getting to pick Stephen and Justine's brains! Highlights would have to be watching Trevor work, he is extremely skilled and no two jobs he does are the same. Trevor lets me know what he is doing and the techniques he is using, whilst I am working on my own piece, which has been really helpful in learning tips and tricks across a wide range of jewellery pieces and metals. I also loved gemstone 101 with Jusine, she has a real passion for gemstones and knows the market very well. The enthusiasm has rubbed off, and now I want to learn more about gemstones! Collectively there is a ton of knowledge in the building, and everyone has been so open and willing to teach me.
7. Were there parts that you weren’t expecting?
I was expecting skilled craftsmen, but these jewellers are the absolute masters of their trade, which I don’t think I was expecting. Harvey and Trevor (who have been teaching me) are the best of the best!
8. Biggest challenge?
Biggest challenge has got to be learning to use the laser welder. I’ve got the hang of it now, but at first it was extremely challenging. I’ve never used one before, so had no idea what all the buttons and switches did. When I first tried using it to tack up the piece before soldering, I was sat on the machine all day to no avil. I went away, had a break and came back to it… and suddenly I got the hang of it! It takes some practice, but its a very useful tool and saves a lot of time.
9. Best thing you learned?
The best thing I learned, has to be some of the basics Trevor taught me. Trevor explained what all of the different gold alloys mean and what a typical usage for them would be, such as spring wire. Trevor taught me Spring Wire is harder than regular gold, so it can withstand more force and rubbing, so would be used on things like a box clasp.
I also learned the proper way of polishing from Dave. My current polishing takes me HOURS. It ends up looking shiny, but I put in way more hours than is needed. I currently polish on a small rotary tool as I was scared of the bench polisher. It does the job, but isn’t as quick.
10. One thing you will miss when you leave?
I’m going to miss everything! Everyone has been so lovely. I will also miss the knowledge on tap. There have been little questions I’ve had for years, and never found the answer to. Out of curiosity I’d ask Trevor or Justine etc and they’d know the answer instantly! I do have their email addresses though, so I might pester them with some cheeky questions from time to time haha.
11. What are you plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to continue building my business. Currently it is just me, making everything, doing all the admin etc. I’ve been looking for a team of jewellers to help make my designs, using all the same traditional techniques, so I can increase capacity.
I’m hoping in the next year, I get surgery and then can expand my business even further. Currently my time at the bench is limited due to the pain, so I’m having to look at other methods to get my designs made. Once I’ve had my surgery, I hope to be able to hone my bench skills further, and learn stone setting. Once I’ve increased production capacity, I really hope to collaborate with different brands and charities. I’d love to collaborate with Teens Unite, a cancer charity that helped put a smile on Beckys face, create a collection with them and donate the proceeds.
Completing the Mentorship with Stephen Webster has really given me the confidence and drive to push boundaries in my own business and try new things. Stephen is the master at pushing boundaries and thinking outside of the box, I’m hoping I can apply some of these principles to my own life and work.
We have loved having Hannah at Stephen Webster and we wish you all the success with your future, we know it will be a bright one! You can check out Hannah's journey in the Stephen Webster workshop on our Instagram(@StephenWebsterJewellery) story highlights.