Think outside the box
Many people can claim their jewellery is a work of art, but Laura Cartledge finds a Brighton designer who can prove it.
When you create jewellery as beautiful as the pieces by Sylvaine Frouin it is no surprise you wouldn’t want to keep them in a drawer.
However, rather than using the conventional necklace trees or earring boards, the Brighton-based artist has decided to combine two of her passions to turn them into works of art.
As a result, instead of boxes they have their own ‘jewel objects’ – story-like settings which give the items life even when not being worn.
“From the beginning I really wanted to mix the illustration and jewellery,” explains Sylvaine. “I just wanted to put the jewellery and a piece together. Then I saw the pieces of wood – someone was about to burn it.”
And that is where this chapter of Sylvaine’s work began.
By delicately carving and intricately painting wooden blocks, she gives her necklace of a silver boy on a swing a tree to sway from, the origami-inspired boat has a sea to sail and the acorn earrings can be picked from their branch.
“When I do shows lots of people don’t realise it is a necklace,” she admits. “Most people understand, but a few think you put the whole object around your neck.
“I like the making side best, I used to wear more jewellery before I started making it,” Sylvaine reveals.
“I draw a lot before making and you can probably see that in the end result, I completely make them all by hand.
“I see faces in everything and they appear a lot in my work,” she adds. “A lot of people say they remind them of Picasso. I think I am not going to say anything.”
Despite being more than happy to be compared to the great artists, she admits: “I am not really inspired by other artists, more by what I see.”
Sylvaine’s current collection is very contemporary, so it is interesting to learn that her journey in jewellery had a very traditional start.
Studying at l’école TANE, a professional school of jewellery and silversmithing, in a small town in the centre of Brittany, she considers her time there to be the ‘mainstay for my work’.
“I learnt the basics and I think that is the best way to start,” she explains. “Then I started to be creative.”
Sylvaine describes her inspiration as being ‘a bit of everything’, something she demonstrated with the ‘elegant mechanics’ collection.
“My father has a garage,” she says. “That bit is rubber from an engine,” she adds pointing to the deep disk set on top of an ornate ring.
So what did her father think? “She’s crazy,” Sylvaine replies, laughing.
Clearly no stranger to challenges Sylvaine has been known to even recreate a train into a ring, down to its tiny
tracks, and she also takes on commissions which can begin from an idea, theme, stone or any other object.
But what is the hardest part of her work?
“With metal you can solder or file it if you make a mistake,” she answers, “but with wood you can’t.”
Working in a studio within an artist mews, alongside two other freelance jewellers, sees Sylvaine forever working to develop her collections and technical skills.
Her future plans are to keep making, expanding and selling – which she does online via etsy and in person at Sussex Guild shows as well as exhibiting in Rye, Lewes and Brittany.
“One day having someone to work for me would be nice,” she smiles.
To find out more about Sylvaine’s work and upcoming exhibitions, please visit www.silvene.net
Her work is also stocked at The Sussex Guild Shop, Southover Road, Lewes and Rye Art Gallery, 107 High Street, Rye.
For information on the Sussex Guild, visit www.thesussexguild.co.uk
January 10, 2014 Fashion and Beauty