Handmade is at the heart of my what I do. Every piece is individually made and hand finished, so no two pieces are exactly alike.
There’s a story behind every handmade piece.
I collect little pieces of nature. I can’t go for walk without picking up acorns, twigs, seed pods and pieces of bark. These gather on my jewellery bench until I find the perfect one and inspiration strikes as to what, and how, it could be.
Acorn and cup
Acorns are one of those things I can’t help myself picking up. Big ones and little ones – sorting through for the perfect one.
The silver acorns have a satisfying weight, and I’ve made these pieces so that the acorn cup can lift and spin on the stem.
I think of acorns as holding quiet strength and potential. They are the seed from which huge oaks can grow.
Poppy seed head
Sometimes seed heads are as interesting and beautiful as the flower.
I find poppy seed heads strikingly beautiful and intriguing in structure. I love the delicacy of the poppy flower, and that this little seed head has a flower shape of its own on the top.
These poppy seed heads are large enough to make a lovely pendant, and small enough to work as earrings too – I like to make them as dramatic long drops.
Poppy top flowers
The flower shape on the top of the poppy seed head is so lovely and delicate that I couldn’t resist having it cast as a piece in its own right.
The poppy top flowers are the perfect size for earrings, studs or drops, and they work well as a delicate pendant too.
Poppy top spokes
Poppy seed heads come in a lot of different shapes, and change as they develop.
This piece is cast from a kind of poppy which has a seed pod with ridges like spokes radiating from the centre. This one came from a bed in Caldecott Park.
This piece is chunkier than the poppy top flower and again works well as earrings or a pendant with a handmade bail.
Lime/linden tree seed
Lime, or linden, trees line the street where I live. They are have beautiful bright green leaves and an unfortunate habit of making everything under them sticky!
The shape of their seeds, with its ridges and bumps make me think of the heavily decorated, embroidered and beaded, dresses of Elizabeth I.
These make lovely tactile pendants and dramatic earrings.
I love the textures on this half hazelnut, both inside and out.
Traditionally hazelnuts are said to be a symbol of wisdom and inspiration, but they make me think of Christmas.
Hazel trees are British natives and once you know what to look for you can spot them all over the place. They have beautiful flowers too, in the form of catkins.
Green Welsh poppy
Welsh poppies grow wild in our garden.
I love both the green seed heads like this one and the more delicate shape of the dried ones. The dried ones are more of a casting challenge but I’m working on how to make that possible.
Flat acorn cup
One of my newest cast pieces.
The flat acorn cup (bottom left in the photo) was selected out of pockets full that my children and I had collected at Longleat when we were allowed out between lockdowns, and in our local park, in the hot summer of 2020. My youngest boy wanted the acorns and I wanted the cups!
Smoothly textured inside, and deeply textured outside, it is beautiful on both sides and can be worn either way round.
Spindles grow in the park where my boys do Parkrun. They don’t attract much attention until the autumn when their leaves turn red and they produce bright pink fruits with clashing bright orange seeds inside.
This piece is cast from the unripe fruit, before they burst open to reveal the seeds inside. It was via Chloe Breen who had been using the pods for printing, that I learned the name of the plant – it was one of the things she had been using to print with.
Chrysalises are a strange combination of beautiful, wonderful, intriguing and a little bit creepy, but the beauty wins through for me. Inside that protective cocoon, a caterpillar transforms into a very different creature.
This is a painted lady chrysalis. After the butterfly emerged and flew safely away I stabilised the fragile empty chrysalis for casting.
I send natural objects I have collected, and carefully selected, to my caster to be recreated exactly in sterling silver, by the ancient process of lost wax casting. These silver pieces inspire and become part of jewellery pieces. You can find out more about the process on my How is it made? page and get insights into the making process from my Instagram account @ditherellasworkshop
For other pieces I begin with just the silver bullion, my tools, and an idea.
Larger finished pieces are hallmarked as sterling silver by the Birmingham Assay Office. This is a legal requirement for silver weighing over 7.78g, although many of my pieces are below that threshold. Some very small or light pieces, and removable chains, are not hallmarked. Everyone who sells precious metals must, by law, display a Dealer’s Notice with information about hallmarking.
Commissions are not something I do at present. My available time is quite unpredictable and I like to keep things simple and just make what I make.