This week, UK Handmade interviews a fascinating jewellery designer based in Fife who began her second career only five years ago after moving from a background in art history and sculpture. Creating strong pieces with a clear narrative structure, weaving stories that flow with the natural properties of the materials she works with, Dianne's work is quite unique.
Please tell us who you are and what you do
My name is Dianne King and I design and hand-make one-off pieces of jewellery using silver, gold and precious/semi-precious stones in unusual designs and combinations.
I like to think of each unique work as having a story behind it. I can rabbit on for hours about the ideas and associations behind the work! It’s important also that jewellery is satisfying to touch as well as good to look at – most people play with their jewellery while they are wearing it.
My pieces are assertive, but not aggressive. They will get you noticed, but don’t shout.
Describe your work setting
My studio is a converted stable with small square windows fitted with shutters so that I can have it dark for soldering. The down side is I have flagstone floors – disastrous if I drop anything.
What inspires you in your work?
My background is in sculpture and art history so I make a lot of references to other art in my jewellery. For example, the Ruffle series comes from looking at Elizabethan portraits with their enormous lace ruffs and pearls.
I also take ideas from literature: the Sea Stories series is partly inspired by reading Neil Gunn’s novel, The Silver Darlings; the Dreaming Stone series comes from a line in a Ben Okri novel.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
I love seeing the transformation that takes place when someone puts on a piece of jewellery that’s exactly right for them. They seem to sort of glow and increase in confidence!
And the most frustrating?
When I have to stop making to do normal things like shopping, which I hate.
Making jewellery is such fun! But I never seem to have enough time to explore all the ideas I want to develop. I have lots of things on the go at once, in various stages of completion. Possibly because I came to making jewellery as a second career, I have so many things I want to do and get impatient with myself for being so slow. I’m a perfectionist, and that takes time.
Describe your typical day
I normally start the day at 6.30am and go for a brisk half-hour walk after breakfast to clear my mind for the day. I don’t usually get into the studio till about 9am. My schedule very much depends on whether I am working to an exhibition deadline in which case I can be working till about 10 at night. (In consideration for the neighbours, I try not to be hammering after 10pm.) I stop for endless cups of tea which often end up going cold as I get lost in the work.
What are your long term plans?
I’m exhibiting in London for the first time from 10th – 13th June at the ACJ stand at Treasure, as part of London Jewellery Week. I’m very excited about this and hope it will lead to new gallery contacts.
I’d like to find more good galleries to exhibit my work. I like galleries which show interesting fine art as well as applied arts. I’d also like to show abroad again. I’ve had two solo shows in Sweden which went really well but it would be good to exhibit in another country too.
If you could live your life all over again, what would you do differently?
I would give more time to my parents as they grew older. In retrospect, I realize that they would have appreciated that, but at the time I was juggling a full-time job, a small child etc. My parents died quite suddenly within two months of each other.
If you had time to learn a new skill what would it be?
When I studied sculpture at art college, I never tried stone carving so I’d love to have a go at that some day. My jewellery tends to be quite sculptural but not in that reductive way. It’s a completely different way of working and that could be very refreshing.
You can find out more about Dianne and her work on her website, www.dianneking.com.