Emma Ware, Eco Artist.
Emma Ware’s eco jewellery is beautiful and I was thrilled to be able talk to her, so it was a shock to find myself deep in linguistic controversy: Jewelry or Jewellery? Tom-ayto, tom-ahto: how can one language have so many divisions? I even looked online and found this graph: news to the Brits, indeed. However Emma, whose pieces are sold in stores worldwide and worn to meet royalty, is a native Londoner, so whichever continent you happen to be on, right now we’ll call it JEWELLERY.
My first glimpse of these fantastic bird-like pieces, crawling over shoulders and snaking round throats, took my breath away. Totemic and stark, they somehow manage to evoke ancient Celtic tribes, paranormal fantasy and shamanic powers simultaneously. Not for the faint-hearted or the office perhaps, but for the bold of either sex, they could just help channel your inner rock god/dess. And that’s a Good Thing. That they’re ecologically sound? The cherry on top.
I don’t see any sense in creating new ‘stuff’ that costs economically and ecologically.
DV: Emma, how and when did you start making jewellery?
My Mum gave me a jewellery-making set when I was about 8 and I realize I’ve always come back to making it throughout my life – making ceramic beads, experimental wire pieces – she still wears earrings I made for her when I was at school!
DV: How did you get your start in the business?
It was a very ‘see how it goes’ thing. I was working in the camera dept in film, a physical and not very creative job. I wanted to do the complete opposite, which was being my own boss, sitting down (!) making whatever I wanted to and not having a negative impact on the environment. Filmmaking can be a very wasteful, inconsiderate industry.
DV: What are you up to now?
I now run my own business designing and making jewellery, it’s quite straightforward, designing collections and selling them. I love that simplicity. At the moment my main material is bicycle inner tubes, I love making something delicate and beautiful out of a tough functional object. Chopping and stitching until it’s transformed into an unrecognizable fabric.
…making whatever I wanted to and not having a negative impact on the environment.
DV: How do you conceive your designs? What inspires you?
I start with the material (rubber) and play with it, seeing what shapes I can make. I end up with shapes that I fit to the body, my aim is to complement and highlight the beauty of the human form. Being restricted inspires me, having to really try to create something new from one starting point/material. If I could make anything out of anything I think I would come to a complete standstill. I don’t see the point in making anything that has been done before so I’ll always strive to do something that hasn’t been done before.
At the moment my main material is bicycle inner tubes, I love making something delicate and beautiful out of a tough functional object.
DV: Your work is very tribal, are you inspired by ancient or tribal jewellery? Do you see jewellery as self-expression, tribal identification or even a shamanic power tool?
I love tribal jewellery. I love the history and meaning it has for the makers and wearers and the power it transmits to the wearer and ‘viewer’. I think everyone wears jewellery for different reasons. The association with tribal culture might be an element in appreciating the pieces, even subconsciously.
As with wearing anything, your choices of decoration/adornment reflect you, your character, your own history and your taste. Tribally, I guess if we identify with someone else, or a group that makes similar choices to us, we feel a part of that group, whether in recognition of a desire to be different and stand apart from the crowd, or comfort in seeing ourself in others.
Your choices of decoration/adornment reflect you, your character, your own history and your taste.
DV: The idea of artist as shaman, retrieving images and totems for the collective, a powerful role, can you identify with that?
For me making is quite a solitary process. There is something romantic and mysterious about it, but I don’t feel the need to try to make sense of it. I think that yes, the artist does have a powerful role; partly because art is everywhere but doesn’t necessarily declare itself.
For me making is quite a solitary process. There is something romantic and mysterious about it…
DV: How do you think jewellery fits into the panorama of art as a whole?
I’m mostly inspired by music, music videos, fashion, dance, people. Art is thinking and creating to me. I don’t feel the need to categorize. Art is about process, once you have the flow you can run with it. I paint (in theory, though I have no time) and I haven’t quite found that flow yet, but I will, that is next on my list of things to do!
DV: How has your vision changed as you’ve become more successful?
I think the only thing that has changed is me realizing that my business is working and this is what I do now. I need to work on the business side of things and where I’m going with it.
DV: Your work looks very organic, but your materials are not: what gave you the idea to start working in rubber?
It was always about using material that already existed. I don’t see any sense in creating new ‘stuff’ that costs economically and ecologically. I want to take something that already exists/a waste product and give it value. I originally starting using old bits of jewellery, toys, trinkets, always had my eye out for things I could use then my friend had a puncture, I played around with the tube and got really excited about the possibilities.
Art is about process, once you have the flow you can run with it.
DV: How is technology helping what you do?
I don’t use technology much in jewellery making, its all quite basic techniques. I almost avoid it I think!
DV: And the wired world?
Again I have to make myself promote myself on Facebook, it doesn’t come naturally I feel a bit me, me, me doing it, especially on twitter, I really don’t want to!
DV: I know just what you mean. Recently your jewellery was worn by Caryn Franklin when she was awarded an MBE by HM The Queen of England. Wonderful! How did that make you feel?
Surprised! Wowed, and I didn’t realize I was ‘on the map’ as it were. She looked amazing and I was touched… I can’t think of the words!
DV: As a successful young British designer, what advice would you give to others wanting to start in the business?
Hmm, do what makes you happy, absolutely believe in yourself you can do anything you want!
Caryn Franklin looked amazing in my designs, when she received her MBE… I was touched… I can’t think of the words.
DV: What is the least, fun part of running your own show – and the most?
I like working as part of a team, that’s what I liked about film making and that’s what I miss. I have interns but it’s really just me. Its hard being strict with yourself to both not work too hard and to do enough. I do love that I have complete control over what I’m doing.
DV: Any fantastical visions of the future of design you’d like to share with us?
Invisible jewellery, jewellery that borders on garments…
DV: Where do you want to go from here?
Invisible jewellery, jewellery that borders on garments…