Making the Unprecious Precious

I’m really feeling my mojo since my creative change of direction!

A particular area of interest of mine has always been the social and cultural history of jewellery as talisman and amulet, and the use of symbolism for storytelling and commemoration within a jewellery and metalworking context. These past few months I have become obsessed with found objects and lost, discarded and broken things with hidden personal stories.

I think it’s in my blood… I was born two weeks late, and my parents were sure that I was going to be a boy. Literally convinced; I was going to be called Thomas Oscar, and they were going to keep me in a box and use me as a doorstop. On the very day I was due, my mum was pottering in the garden with a hand-trowel, and found this broken piece of Victorian china. The rest is history.

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A similar thing happened in March, although not quite as profoundly spooky. My parents live in York, one of my favourite cities and not too far from where I was born and grew up (and where GIRL was found). My mum told me that on their property there is a tree which is going to fall, so for safety’s sake they have decided to take it down. She was chatting to their neighbour next to the tree, and as they talked her neighbour bent down to pick something up off the ground. “Oh, look at that!” she exclaimed, and passed something to my mum: a little piece of broken early Victorian china, printed with the word LOVE. The neighbour (incredibly) didn’t want to keep it, so she gave it to mum, and mum gave it to me.

Where else would I put it, but in a handmade custom setting in 18ct yellow gold, to join my other strange and intrinsically worthless personal talismans?

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I especially love LOVE because the shape reminds me of a hanging chrysalis.

Some of my other bits and pieces I wear in regular rotation are a vintage 9ct gold spinner charm which, unusually, reads WHY WORRY. Pieces shown below include other amulets created from ‘worthless’ found objects, which I also set in recycled 18ct gold.

There’s the porcelain Frozen Charlotte (who’s become known as the original Baby Sappho) from my work for the Bowes Museum last year.

There’s another piece of broken china which I found on my allotment during 2018’s long hot summer. It immediately made me smile - at first the creatures on it reminded me of fleas, but I think they’re meant to be sheep. Sheep are a huge part of farming and local life here; in fact, this year’s lambs and their mothers are grazing directly outside my studio window today.

The next piece is a fossilised crinoid from a piece of Frosterley Marble. My home is famous for this specific decorative stone which has been quarried a mile or two from my house for over 700 years; there are Frosterley Marble columns in Durham Cathedral which date from around 1350.

I engraved the gold paw; it’s my greyhound’s pawprint. She horrifically broke her leg last year, and if it wasn’t for the kindness and generosity of so many of you I don’t know what I’d have done. This piece reminds me not to be afraid to ask for help (ah, the curse of belligerent self-sufficiency!).

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Recently I’ve discovered the joy of working with original Neolithic flint arrowheads. The ones I’ve been working with so far come from the Sahara. Local nomadic people often find them in the shifting dunes as they travel around with their herds; they collect them and then sell or trade them on. They all date from around 4000BC, so are around 6000 years old. I love their shapes and colours, which are surprisingly very varied.

So far I’ve not kept any Arrowhead Talismans for myself, but I’m sure this will change - I’m just waiting for the right one to come along. I normally set them in recycled 9ct yellow gold or sterling silver, but I’m planning to release some in recycled 18ct yellow gold too.

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I love the process of making a custom setting, for of course each little piece (whether it’s an arrowhead, shard of china or any other found thing) is a totally different shape from anything else. Everything is hand-made to fit whatever I’m working with, and no two can ever be the same. Each piece is a complete one-off. I find it very satisfying indeed.

My next personal project I’m planning is one I’ve wanted to create for many years, but I kept putting it safely in a drawer in my studio, where it lay out of sight and so drifted in and out of my memory.

It’s a corroded livery button. Livery buttons were worn by liveried servants who worked for wealthy and noble households - footmen, coachmen etc - on their coats and uniform. Typical of many buttons, they often fell off and got lost. I haven’t been able to identify this one yet, but I think it is probably Georgian or early Victorian.

If memory serves me correctly, this was found in the village I grew up in. It’s been around as long as I can remember, and was kept in the box labelled ‘Garden Treasures’ in the pantry. I’ve always loved the slightly sinister curls of the snake, his open hissing mouth and the details of his scales and forked tongue.

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Do you have a precious shell from a favourite beach, a small china fragment you found in your grandma's garden, or a lock of hair from someone cherished? Or any bones, feathers, beads, small fossils, teeth, coins, pebbles, cogs, screws, locks of hair, scraps of fabric ... anything you have which is precious to you. Have you always wanted to do something with them, but never known where to begin?

Send them to me and I will weave my magic. I work in sterling silver, 9ct yellow gold and 18ct yellow gold.

Or come and set your own pieces to make your own talismanic charm bundle. I’m hosting a two-day course at Lund Studios near York in October. Bring a handful of your favourite found objects and interesting oddments to this fun and challenging weekend to learn how to turn them into talismans you can wear. The aim of the weekend is to come away with a handmade charm necklace in sterling silver which is personal to you. Find out more and book your place direct via Lund Studios.


I’d love to hear about your own found objects and their hidden stories. I’m hoping to write more on the subject of how - and why - the intrinsically ‘non-precious’ can become something deeply personal, and change into something extremely precious. 


Please do comment below if you’d like to share your opinions and thoughts.


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A Breath of Fresh Air

Is it too late to wish you a Happy New Year? Today is a New Moon - a psychological time for setting intentions, creating new beginnings, and planting seeds* .

*DISCLAIMER: if you didn’t already know, I am a closet hippy and I love esoteric shizz. I still haven’t worked out how to get jewellery to grow in my garden though…

*DISCLAIMER: if you didn’t already know, I am a closet hippy and I love esoteric shizz. I still haven’t worked out how to get jewellery to grow in my garden though…

This is my first piece of writing for the website this year, and in the last three months I’ve made a fair few changes; this process of clearing and refreshing feels wonderful.

I have wound down the Antique & Vintage side of my work. Whilst I do miss the thrill of the hunt, halfway though last year I realised that the perpetual search for rarer and rarer pieces at higher and higher prices was no longer bringing me joy. I had lost sight of why I went into jewellery in the first place; to create. Perhaps for many artists the cyclic pattern of idea, gestation, labour and culmination fulfils some deep human instinct. Or perhaps I’m just weird.

In early January I closed my Etsy shop. After four and a half years and almost 1000 sales via that platform alone, it was with mixed feelings but I know it was the right decision. A dilution of the Etsy marketplace by imported goods which are clearly not handmade, a strange hierarchy of promoted listings, less transparent search criteria and drastic increases in fees meant that the situation became untenable for me. As part of the shop closure process, Etsy asked for feedback, so I politely shared my reasons for leaving and requested a response. I but never received one. Perhaps this is Indicative of what so many online selling platforms have become.

For the foreseeable future, I now sell exclusively on my website. So far, it seems to have been absolutely the right decision.

From our new made-to-order   Rainbow Birthstones   collection, a sparkling blue aquamarine (for March) set handmade 9ct yellow gold.

From our new made-to-order Rainbow Birthstones collection, a sparkling blue aquamarine (for March) set handmade 9ct yellow gold.

I now focus just on custom and bespoke work, my own handmade work, hosting workshops and teaching. I plan to expand my involvement in all of these through 2019 and beyond!

Already this year I’ve seen a jump in custom orders. I have ten on the go at the moment.

Already this year I’ve seen a huge surge in workshop bookings. To date (March 6th), I’ve had thirteen confirmed bookings which cover Make Your Own Wedding Rings and One-Day Beginners’ Workshops.

A pair of wedding rings in 9ct white gold, handmade by Charlotte and Darren from their   Make Your Own Wedding Rings   workshop with us at the end of February.

A pair of wedding rings in 9ct white gold, handmade by Charlotte and Darren from their Make Your Own Wedding Rings workshop with us at the end of February.

I’ve newly introduced the #fridayatfourdrop on Instagram, where I release what I’ve been working on that week in the Shop Our Jewellery section. Each week for the last three weeks the collections have sold out.

Neolithic Saharan arrowhead talismans, dating from c.4000BC, set in recycled 9ct yellow gold. From two of our recent #fridayatfourdrop posts on Instagram… and all sold out.

Neolithic Saharan arrowhead talismans, dating from c.4000BC, set in recycled 9ct yellow gold. From two of our recent #fridayatfourdrop posts on Instagram… and all sold out.

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Being self-employed, I spend a lot of time brooding on the future, and what may (or may not) happen. Will people get bored of what I’m doing? Will the interest drop off? Will trends change? It can be very unpredictable, worrying, and frightening even. But I have a good feeling about 2019, and where it will take me and my micro-business.

The 6th April will mark Hannah Peters Jewellery’s six year anniversary! I want to express my deep and sincere thanks to every single person who has ever supported me - in any way - since I began this mad little enterprise. It’s been a ~journey~ but with your engagement and support there’s no reason why it shouldn’t continue. Thank you.

#shopsmall

#shoplocal

#shopethical

All the colours of the rainbow! Choose your favourite in our   Rainbow Birthstones   collection.

All the colours of the rainbow! Choose your favourite in our Rainbow Birthstones collection.

#Untitled10 and the Baby Sapphos

Continued from previous post… Hannah's Work at the Bowes Museum

Two weeks ago today, our #Untitled10 exhibition opened at the Bowes Museum in the old market town of Barnard Castle on the edge of County Durham.

The only picture of me from the Private View, casually leaning on my workbench, currently installed in the Silver and Metals Gallery.  Photo Credit - with thanks to Paula Moore @TalkinCulture

The only picture of me from the Private View, casually leaning on my workbench, currently installed in the Silver and Metals Gallery. Photo Credit - with thanks to Paula Moore @TalkinCulture

A great turnout as Matthew Read, Director of the Bowes Centre, gives an overview of our project.

A great turnout as Matthew Read, Director of the Bowes Centre, gives an overview of our project.

Visitors enjoying my work.

Visitors enjoying my work.


This project has been part of my life for over 8 months now. I hadn’t realised it’d been that long. I attended a briefing day waaaay back in March in the teeth of the worst winter I can remember, and spent the blistering summer thinking about it, working on it, developing it, testing it. And now - suddenly - it’s all over.

I taught myself the traditional craft of sand casting through trial and error. Once I’d sourced and set up all the equipment - including a specialist oxy-propane casting torch - it took me six attempts to successfully cast a passable figure in fine silver.

I went behind the scenes at the museum, into storerooms and up to the high attic archives, and had complete creative freedom.

I found almost an exact copy of the necklace which Pradier’s figure of Sappho is wearing - an antique Victorian silver collar - which is now in my personal jewellery collection.

I cut up a book of Sappho’s poems and burnt the remainder; a kind of smoke-offering of thanks.

I created a 100 page reflective journal, filled with collage, embroidery, feathers, tissue paper, antique Victorian scraps and a mirror of real silver. I included my treasured cuttings of Tim Walker’s photoshoot of Lily Cole in India which I’d saved from the July 2005 issue of Vogue, interspersed with fragments of Sappho’s poetry.

I ended up listening to the same songs over and over again - you can find my playlist silvered on Spotify.

I transported my real jewellery bench, the one which I’ve used everyday for 14 years, to the Silver and Metals Gallery of the museum. It’ll remain there until January next year.

I met some wonderful, deeply creative people.

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What’s it all about?

In the museum, if you look at the text on the wall just next to the statue of Sappho, you’ll see a quote from Benvenuto Cellini, a renaissance metalsmith, which reads “…I completed my work in a style which did me the greatest credit. Next I set about to cast it in bronze…Suffice it to say that the figure came out splendidly, and was as fine a specimen of foundry as had ever been seen…”.

When we see beautifully curated museum displays, especially in this particular gallery here at the Bowes Museum, every single object is finished, polished, perfect, clean. We can’t see any evidence of the actual manufacturing process; it’s as if the objects have appeared suddenly, miraculously, and fully formed. As a jeweller and silversmith, I know first hand that the creative and developmental processes used by metalsmiths, founders, and casters can be extremely grimy, dusty, uncomfortable and noisy. There are prototypes, practice-runs and maquettes; chemicals, oxides and acids. Inevitably there is a very fine layer of metal-dust all over everything in the studio, necessitating the use of protective goggles and face masks whilst at work. Cellini makes it all sound so easy and instantaneous, so I decided to take this as a direct challenge!

Over the summer of 2018, I taught myself the traditional technique of sandcasting. I based my work on the solid silver figure of Sappho by James Pradier, since she was also manufactured by casting. I took the existing fragments of Sappho’s poetry and pieced together a reflective journal which documented my mind-journeys, creative processes and practical experiments, the hypothetical culmination of which would be a classical-style necklace made from hand cast solid figures.

I thought it would be an interesting concept to install my actual jewellery bench in the Silver & Metals gallery. This is my ‘real’ bench, which my father made for me when I was starting out as a self-taught jeweller in 2004. It’s very simple, and was made from off-cuts of wood and bits of MDF. The tools on the top surface are my real tools. The crucible-holder and crucible are the real things I used when I made the silver figures in the nearby display case. The worn and dirty bench beg has been used for 14 years and is testament to hours and hours of work at my bench. I seek to ‘deconstruct the museum’ and show that creative developmental processes have a great deal in common with everyday ways of living and working, like those which take place in the family shed, our friend’s garage, or neighbour’s barn.


The Installation

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The Finished Gallery Setup

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About the Baby Sapphos

To accompany her work on display at the Bowes Museum, Hannah has created a limited edition run of her solid silver figures; ‘Baby Sapphos’. Only ten are (and will ever be) available.

Inspired by James Pradier’s silver figure of Sappho dating from 1848, these diminutive figures are individually sandcast in solid sterling silver. Hannah took inspiration from fragments of Sappho’s poetry to create a ‘hypothetical’ necklace in the classical style, assembled from chained links from which are suspended these solid silver ‘baby Sapphos'. Each of these ten figures are a finished individual link from the necklace, if the necklace were ever to be made.

Each figure has been individually cast from the original Frozen Charlotte in a handmade single-use sand mould. Each figure will be struck with Hannah’s personal hallmark, and will also be hand-engraved with their series number. They will have a sterling silver pendant bail attached to their feet, so that they can be worn as pendants or pinned to a coat. They are made from solid sterling silver and weigh approx 7g each.

***SOLD OUT***

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Who are the Other Nine Artists?

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Ann Gill

costume

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Bridget Kennedy

installation

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Eliot Smith

dance

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Kit Haigh

sound

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Lisa Smith

embroidery

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Nick James

furniture

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Rachel Emily Taylor

installation

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Richard Glynn

photography

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Stuart Langley

light

You can see the creative and developmental work of the #Untitled10 collective at the Bowes Museum from 9th November 2018 until 11th January 2019.

Hannah's Work at the Bowes Museum


If you follow us on social media, you’ll know that during the summer Hannah has been working on a very exciting project… and this project has finally reached it’s completion!

Yesterday, Hannah travelled over the moors with her car packed with all sorts of things - including one very big thing - to deliver her work for a wonderful exhibition which opens next week at the Bowes Museum.

We’ll be writing a series of blog posts about Hannah’s work and about the exhibition. This first post is all about the background…

Introduction 

In spring 2018, The Bowes Centre, in collaboration with The Bowes Museum and Durham Creatives, invited proposals from artists and makers to investigate the Museum, its collection, building and immediate environment. This open-call was specifically designed to encourage the expression of experimental and developmental practice. Over 230 artists applied.  Ten were selected.  These are now collectively known as #Untitled10.

The Open Call 

The Bowes Museum is a nationally important decorative and fine arts collection, housed in an imposing building which opened 1892.  The building, park and its collection were the philanthropic vison of founders John and Joséphine Bowes.

Bowes houses over 15,000 founders’ objects.  Almost every object is a finished work.  Each has a story to be told.  The #Untitled10 challenge was using Bowes as inspiration, to communicate the creative process that lies behind all work.  Central to the commission was there should be no finished work; only process.

Artists responded to individual objects in the collections at Bowes, to associated objects such as the monkey-puzzle tree and the sense of physical and emotional historic space, all connected by John and Joséphine Bowes’ bitter-sweet story.

Throughout the summer of 2018, #Untitled10 developed their projects and now tell their personal and professional journeys, of materials, making or manufacture, of creativity, experimentation and development, of failure and success.

I see museums as theatres for objects, which is to say that most pieces displayed within them are clean, shiny, finished, perfect. I seek to show that creative developmental processes have a great deal in common with everyday ways of living and working, which similarly include experimentation, error, repeat practice, dust, noise and mess. In response to the solid silver figure of Sappho, and with particular reference to Cellini’s breezy quote on the gallery wall nearby, I taught myself the traditional technique of sand-casting over the summer of 2018. My work for the Bowes Museum documents reflective, creative and practical processes.
— Hannah on #Untitled10

The exhibition runs from Friday 9th November 2018 – Friday 11th January 2019, at the Bowes Museum in County Durham.

The fabulous chateau-inspired architecture of the Bowes Museum in the market town of Barnard Castle, County Durham, in the wintery afternoon light of delivery day.

The fabulous chateau-inspired architecture of the Bowes Museum in the market town of Barnard Castle, County Durham, in the wintery afternoon light of delivery day.

NEW! Fledermaus Bat Rings

These have been in the pipeline for a loooooong time and we’re so pleased to share them with you, just in time for Halloween!

a spooky silver night visitor, just outside our studio

a spooky silver night visitor, just outside our studio

Our beautiful Fledermaus ring is named after the German word for ‘bat’ which literally translates as “Flitter-mouse”.

Our Fledermaus rings are all cast directly from an antique mid-Victorian ring from Hannah’s personal collection. We use a slightly different casting technique for these rings (as opposed to sandcasting) to enable us to highlight the beautiful details of the bat’s ears and wing-bones.

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The bat is wonderfully 3D and is positioned with her wings and tail outstretched, as if she is launching herself into flight directly from your finger. She has long pointed ears which are pricked and alert.

Her wingspan is 2.0cm, and from the tips of her toes to the tops of her ears she measures 1.2cm.

Available in any ring size from UK size H (approx US size 4) up to UK size V (approx US size 11). The price is the same for all sizes of the sterling silver Fledermaus ring. Please just let us know which size you need and we will make one to your size.

Maximum lead time is normally around 2 weeks, depending on our workload.

You can purchase your own little silver or soon, gold! Fledermaus right here…

Fledermaus Bat Ring
from 145.00
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