Meet the Maker
For this months ‘Meet the Maker’ we are sitting down with Francesca Lobb, a West Yorkshire based maker who is new to the scene and became a member of MJN in 2016 after graduating from Manchester School of Art.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
I graduated from Manchester School of Art in 2016 and have since continued to develop my graduate collection in my home studio in West Yorkshire. At university I was interested in looking at the relationship that we share with our personal belongings which forms the underlying ethos in my work. I love finding old pieces that I can revive as well as take inspiration from, to create intricate pieces of jewellery and personal possessions which entice the wearer to explore and create a connection with.
What drew you into making Jewellery and pursuing a career in the craft?
I love to make. I enjoy anything that involves being hands on but also the challenge to solve problems. The course I studied was Three Dimensional Design and although I enjoyed every aspect of the course, from throwing pots to engraving glass, the metal workshops seemed to continue to draw me in each day. I think it is the intricacy of the work you are able to produce using metal, the flexibility of the materials and how one simple piece of wire could be manipulated into a design full of detail and precision. I had no idea when I started university that I would be making jewellery, I have always been intrigued by the beauty of ceramics, but I didn’t feel the same excitement or creativity when it came to making ceramic pieces myself. There was just something about the metal workshops which excited me and still does now.
What are your key inspirations in your practice?
I use a lot of old personal possessions and objects to inspire my work. My mum has always collected old items from second hand markets and rummaging through these are what initially inspired my final collection for my degree. The historic aesthetics of the pieces you find are beautiful, even if they are battered and broken, I like to think I use this to my advantage and enhance the beauty of them when I use pieces directly within my work.
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
I have always loved creative subjects like art and design but I also loved drama. I was never the most confident in school and even now I’m not the most out spoken person, so being on stage was terrifying but also very fulfilling. I enjoyed the sense of achievement I felt after performing to an audience. I think that is something that draws me into making, as well as the creativity, I love the sense of achievement I feel when I finish each individual piece and even more so when it is positively received by others.
What is it about having your own jewellery business/independently making jewellery that you enjoy the most?
Making is where my passions lie, although design obviously comes into it, being hands on and actually physically creating something is what I enjoy the most. Seeing the process of taking a material from its raw state and transforming it into something completely different excites me.
What hasn’t gone as you expected in your career?
It is still very early days in my career as a maker as I have only been set up since October last year. When you leave university and the facilities they provide it is very difficult initially and you have no idea how people will respond to your work as you have always been in your own bubble. Being approached and accepted to showcase my work in a range of exhibitions and highly recognised shows has been amazing and in some cases very unexpected.
What is your favourite tool in your toolbox?
My round nose pliers are an essential piece of kit, so much so that I have two pairs! Working with wire is something that I really enjoy and I would not be able to create many of the intricate pieces I’ve made without these, they are definitely my most used tool.
What is your favourite piece of advice or feedback that you have been given that has given you the confidence to persevere?
Compliments from other makers, some who have been in the craft for many years, is always a great boost in confidence. Showcasing and selling my work direct to the public through craft fairs and festivals has been stressful, particularly as I am still learning and finding my feet, but seeing the responses from the public, the smiles on their faces as they see a familiar object in my collection and the interest they show as I explain the thoughts behind my work, reminds me that I am doing what I enjoy and that others enjoy it too.
Which project or piece in particular are you most proud of so far and why?
Each piece I make is unique and acts as inspiration to form my next idea. I feel that I have managed to achieve so much in a short space of time with my graduate collection and although it is still expanding at the moment, if my work takes a different direction I know my graduate pieces will always have a strong influence in the work I continue to create.
How do you spend a typical weekend/day off from making?
I tend to have a Saturday off from making and usually spend the time with family and friends. Huddersfield second hand market is my main go to for my finds so I love to have a rummage here at the weekend with my mum. My Sundays are then taken up by working at Kath Libbert Jewellery Gallery where I spend the day surrounded by some of the most luxurious handmade jewellery.
Do you have any current or upcoming shows where we can see your work in person?
I am very excited for my next show which I am currently stocking up for. This year I have been selected to showcase as part of the StartUP section at The Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey. I have never had the chance to visit the show as a visitor but I am very excited to be visiting for the very first time as an exhibitor. The show runs from the 9th-11th of June and I cannot wait to be a part of it and to be surrounded by some of the most talented crafts people in the UK. I have also just taken part in Manchester Craft and Design Centre’s exhibition ‘Future Makers’ where I was showcasing my work in Studio One. The show has now come to an end but you can still see my work in Studio One at the moment.
What are you working on right now?
I’m very busy at the moment creating plenty of stock to take down to Bovey Tracey with me. I’m also working on some new ideas and trying to develop some of my popular pieces such as my matchstick earrings and my hook and eye fastenings and making these into earrings too. I’m using a lot of everyday objects as inspiration at the moment so hopefully you’ll see some familiar items influencing my work. You can see how my work is developing on a more regular basis on my social media networks, particularly my Instagram @francescalobbjewellery. I am also currently making some new stock for Sunny Bank Mills where I have just finished showcasing my work in their exhibition ‘Ones To Watch’ so hopefully you will be able to see and purchase a selection of my work from them soon!
Finally, could you choose one of your favourite designers from MJN and tell us why?
There is so much variety in the work produced by the members of MJN, which is what makes the network so interesting and great to be a part of. I love the work of Laura Johnson, I have been lucky enough to know and work alongside Laura since the beginning of university and as her final collection developed I began to love it more and more. I particularly love the earrings photographed below which I happily now own after lusting over them since they were made, but also love the vibrant colours Laura applies to her work using spray paint, especially in the ring below and how this reflects her urban architectural inspiration behind her work.
You can keep up with Francesca’s work on
Facebook- Francesca Lobb Jewellery