Cirencester's New Brewery Arts is so much more than just a gallery, offering a variety of exciting craft workshops and providing studio spaces to local designers and makers.
SoGlos spoke to Hayley Kruger, a designer, maker and tutor in precious jewellery, about how she got into jewellery making, the importance of ethical materials in her designs and when you can catch her at work at New Brewery Arts.
Tell us about your craft.
I am a jeweller using fine metals and precious gems to create treasures that have sentimental, family stories to tell and to pass on.
How did you get started?
I have always been creative and a maker in some way or another. I remember making clay beads and figurines from the earth that our family home was built on and I was inspired by the traditional jewellery made by South African tribes where I grew up.
I started building my skills with a short taster course in working with silver and then I went on to do a degree in Jewellery and Allied Crafts.
What drew you to jewellery making?
I love the practical, problem solving aspect that is as much a trade as a craft form. And of course, working with beautiful, colourful natural elements is enticing, too.
Bespoke jewellery is one of your specialisms. Can you tell us a bit about the process?
the gemstone will lead how a piece evolves. The colour, the shape, as well as the lifestyle of the client. Whether it be that they prefer chunky or
delicate styles, if they are sporty or use their hands, this can often sway a
Do you have a particular material that you enjoy working with most?
Purer forms of yellow gold such as 18 carat and 22 carat are bliss to work with. And of course, sourcing beautiful quality gemstones that have amazing fire and life within them can be very hypnotic.
How important is sustainability when crafting your jewellery?
This is becoming more and more important and should become the norm, but this will take time. The jewellery industry is changing and making positive steps in the right direction, so it is important to be a part of this evolution and to help make those changes happen.
Fairtrade and Fairmined materials are important to you. How do you go about sourcing things fairly for your commissions and designs?
These two amazing organisations who are working hard to source mined metals that are kinder to the environment and fairer to the communities that serve these mines.
By building an alliance with these selected small-scale operations and creating incentives for them, the profits can be invested back into the communities by building schools, infrastructure and teaching environmental awareness.
What should consumers look out for when shopping for sustainable jewellery?
Look out for Fairmined and Fairtrade registered jewellers. Ask about traceability of gemstones. Be mindful and support jewellers who are working towards this, as it is a transitional process that takes time and can cost more.
Support independent makers and designers who hand make in the UK, as they will have a lower carbon footprint. Start conversations.
You also rework family heirlooms – what is that process like? Is it different from creating jewellery from scratch?
It's more emotional and special and is often driven by the family story. These are the pieces that mean the most as it is an honour that a client has trusted me with the next part of their family story.
Whether the piece is to mark an important milestone or to honour someone that they have lost, these stories are very personal and intimate.
If you had to pick one piece that you’ve made as your favourite, what would it be?
I recently created a pendant frame for an ancient Byzantine gold coin dating back to around 1250. That was very special. However, I am currently working on two pieces with very emotive family stories and I am feeling very close to these for now.
When can people see you at work at New Brewery Arts?
Most days! I'm there Monday to Saturday from 10.30am to 5pm. Call for appointments.
What advice would you give to anyone interested in jewellery making? What’s a good way to make a start?
I was bitten by the bug when doing a short course and I have seen this happen to others many times.
Whether it's a one-day taster in my studio or a five-week introduction at New Brewery Arts, just try it and give it a go.
To find out more, or to book a course, visit newbreweryarts.org.uk/courses.