about jane’s work

philosophy & inspiration

People often tell me that my jewellery is reminiscent of the sea, or sea creatures, or at least of organic things. Though I don’t often make figurative pieces, or even deliberately start with a specific source in mind, a lot of my work is inspired by the natural world – fish, leaves, wings, insects, birds. Before starting to make jewellery I did a B.Sc. at The University of the Witwatersrand, with a particular interest in  marine biology, but the extraordinary beauty in the world and the need to make images and objects steered me away from a career in science.

In addition to plants and animals I love landscapes, seas, rivers and skies. In particular I am fascinated by the interaction of light and shadow, translucency, transparency and reflection. I love the way moving water creates ever changing patterns with light, and the way fish flash bright then disappear, materialise in shadowy insubstantiality, are for an instant suspended in detailed clarity, then dissolve into ripple shadows. I love the way dawn and dusk light make the sky luminous and deep; the layers of clouds lit by the changing colours as they drift in their separate currents of air.
I love the quiet complexity, the layered patterning  integral to the structure of natural things.


materials & techniques

I make all my jewellery by hand. Each  item is different from all the others, even when made as a series of similar items. I use silver and gold, gems and natural stones, mother-of pearl and sometimes vitreous enamel. I also use other less traditional materials and found objects when they appeal to me.
As I work, my concept is influenced by the process and the medium, and I arrive organically at the final piece, though sometimes with detours and disasters on the way.

I like subtle, layered textures and patterns, and often apply successive processes (such as combining different metals, embossing, stamping and acid etching) to achieve them, so that the surface is like a palimpsest, faint traces of earlier treatments showing through  later ones.

To avoid the relentless uniformity of mechanical reproduction, whether of pattern or shape, I do things by hand, considering spacing and proportion, shape and balance. Similarly, I try to select the colours and shapes of the stones and beads I use to best enhance each piece.

Occasionally I cast elements to be combined  with other parts.




© Jane McIlleron - Handmade Jewellery