Meet the Maker
This month we are looking closely at the beautiful work of Jenny Rothwell.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
Hi, I am Jenny, I make anodised aluminium and silver jewellery in my garden shed. I am a huge fan of all things floral, I love to walk in the Peaks and wander on beaches, take some photos and enjoy the peace. I print and paint tiny scenes from hedgerow and meadows in my printed aluminium work, trying to show what we would see if we bent down and looked closer.
What drew you into making Jewellery and pursuing a career in the craft?
I always loved to make things, especially miniature objects. As a child I enjoyed making little houses out of shoeboxes and filling them with stuff I made, I liked to mess around with beads and stitching things too. I eventually went to local jewellery making classes and was instantly hooked. It has taken me another ten years and lots of learning to feel that I am “working” as a jewellery maker!
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Although I was a creative child I didn’t ever think that I would be able to make a career out of it. I wanted to be a nurse, that seemed like such an interesting and worthwhile thing to do with my life. I completed my nurse training and worked for the NHS for 18 years before leaving my much loved job to have my children. I am still quite surprised that I have had such a change in career.
What is it about having your own jewellery business/independently making jewellery that you enjoy the most?
Being my own boss has allowed me to have lots of time with my children, family is everything to me. As my children have grown I have slowly grown my business, working when I can and making friends with other makers. I was asked to join a group of local artists in setting up an artist led gallery where I live, called The Gallery in New Mills, Derbyshire. This has been an fantastic experience, with a very supportive and encouraging group of people. I feel we have helped each other enormously and brought a beautiful gallery to our town.
What hasn’t gone as you expected in your career?
Well I was quite settled at the kitchen table with a small box of tools…I didn’t anticipate how much stuff I would accumulate and have been forced to move it all, and me, into the shed!
What is your favourite piece of advice or feedback that have you been given that has given you the confidence to persevere?
Oh I don’t know…my dad used to tell me to do what I love and bought me my rolling mill years ago to encourage me, my family put up with my mess and I feel blessed to have a group of generous and positive friends who are always there when I need a boost.
What are your key inspirations in your practice?
It has to be the field behind the shed…because I look at it every day I see the seasonal changes, the tiny differences that I might otherwise miss. I try to bring this into my work in colour, print and texture.
Which project or piece in particular are you most proud of so far and why?
It would probably be my “Meadow” series of printed aluminium jewellery that has been so popular over the last couple of years. It came from memories of summers as a child, looking into the hedgerows of North Wales and poring over my wildflower book! I am really happy to have taken it to so many places and for customers to be so positive about it and to tell me their own stories.
What is your favourite tool in your toolbox?
In my toolbox my half round file and in my shed my rolling mill.
How do you spend a typical weekend/day off from making?
Growing vegetables, reading books, cooking, walking, a day at the beach…never enough time off.
What are you working on right now?
I am finishing new work for an open studios event, I have a couple of new ideas which I am trying to finish on time! A silver floral range and some new aluminium prints with a surprise theme!
Do you have any current or upcoming shows where we can see your work in person?
Yes, May is very busy! I have an open studios event, Derbyshire Open Arts at the end of the month, 3 days of open studios across the county, I do this with a group of 5 friends at 67 Mellor Road, New Mills….it’s a lot of work but great fun. I also have work in the MJN Scandi themed exhibition at MAG this month and Into the Wild at Mostyn.
Finally, could you choose one of your favourite designers from MJN and tell us why?
Jo Bull’s work with silver and sea glass reminds me of Cornwall and happy beach holiday. I love sea glass, it’s like finding treasure and the way Jo incorporates pieces into her jewellery looks so naturally beautiful.
You can keep up with Jenny’s work on:
Instagram – @jenny.rothwell_jewellery
Facebook – @jennyrothwelljewellery