Sewing with silver
Laura Cartledge discovers the chance beginning and passions that helped to make one jeweller’s distinctive work.
Chances are we will all go on a course at some point in our lives.
While some will leave us with little more than a doodled notepad, others might give us a nice idea which we never quite get round to.
However for Lunella Davenport one sparkled a passion that turned into a business.
“I think I have always been a creative person,” she admits. “The first jewellery making I did was a summer course – it was a case of
‘I will see what it is like’.”
Some 15 years on, ‘Lunella Florence’ is a regular name at craft events across Hampshire and further afield.
In particular her more recent ‘Silverdashery’ creations, which combine silverwork and another of her hobbies, have been very popular.
“It has been the past three years that I have focused on haberdashery. I am a sewer myself and it has been a really good focus,”
she reveals. “I used to make everything, all in silver or gold.”
The idea to rein things in a little came about after Lunella designed a special gift.
“I think it started with the lady in Worthing who runs the Wool Bar,” she recalls. “I went for a knitting lesson and made her the knit necklace.”
Lunella admits it instantly felt like she was on to something.
“Usually, it is hard to know what to buy a maker – there is only so much yarn you can give someone,” she smiles.
With the nature of Lunella’s work, it is little surprise to learn a piece would make its way to the jewellery box of a contestant on BBC’s Sewing Bee.
Jenniffer Taylor appeared in the 2014 programme, something she blames on husband Kirk as he filled in the application, and she has since gone on to become a bit of a celebrity in the crafting world.
“I made the first tape measure bangle for her. It was after she was on Sewing Bee,” says Lunella. “I said ‘do you mind if I make others?’ And she said ‘not at all, I’ve told everyone!’”
The design proved to be really popular, while images of Jenniffer wearing it have helped point customers in Lunella’s direction.
The handcrafted feel, and subject matter,
are very much the unique selling point and Lunella believes this makes the end result ‘feel quite special’.
“I find it nice at fairs because, even though they are made from the same length of silver, people want to try them all on because they do have a different feel to them. I might make ten bangles in one go but they are all different.”
Touch is a sense Lunella calls upon a lot, and is the reason she insists on heading across the counties to Merchant and Mills haberdashery in Rye at least once a year.
“I will feel fabric and think ‘how can I get that on to silver?’ – which I think is why I use a lot of lace,” she whispers. “We put it through the roller and can see it change.
“There are happy accidents and then it happens the other way too, you think it will come out a certain way and it doesn’t,” adds Lunella. “The first tape measure brooch I made was an accident, I was making a bangle and I hit it too hard so a piece broke off.”
These brooches, often requested as commissioned gifts as Lunella can personalise them with numbers for birthdays and suchlike, she deems a surprise hit.
“They are nice and I really like them,” she says, “but I was just taken back by how popular they were.”
Commissions are something Lunella really relishes as she feels ‘there is a special connection between the maker and the person’.
“I think they make it really interesting,” she enthuses. “I love the haberdashery range because it all fits together nicely but when someone comes in and asks ‘can I have this?’ it makes you think and explore other things.”
A request that stands out involves the country music twin duo Ward Thomas.
“They both contacted me to make something for the other one for their 21st,” she reveals. “One wanted me to make a ring including everything she loved – singing, dogs, elephants and her birthstone – it was a challenge but I loved it.”
So what about Lunella’s dream project?
“My new crown range is a new joy,” she answers, “and I would like to make a head-sized crown that matches the pendant… and then be bold enough to wear it every day.”
For information about Silverdashery, visit www.silverdashery.com