Louise Payjack-Guillou came to Duluth via London, where she studied jewelry making. She currently works in a studio in the Duluth Maker Space, and sells her work through an elegant e-commerce website.
L. P. G.: I’m a jeweler working primarily in sterling silver and gold. My current work picks up on intricate and ornate details from found and collected objects. Often choosing antiques which have been beautifully worked with fine engraving, embossing etc. and distilling elements of these into modern clean forms to be worn as everyday luxury. Recently I’ve been having fun playing with larger precious and semi-precious stones such as natural emeralds, sapphires, turquoise and labradorite. The inclusion of more stone setting in my work has really opened new creative outlets for me, plus it’s a lot of fun sourcing colourful stones; they’re like candy to me!
To get to the root of how I came to be working this way would take us back to England where I trained as a jeweler. I completed my BA Hons at Middlesex University over the course of 5 years (including professional placement and an exchange to Australia – where I incidentally met my American husband Sam). My degree, although focused on technical skills, really pushed the boundaries of what can be considered jewelry and was actually very conceptual. My graduate collection, was made from resin and silicone but alluded to precious mourning jewelry. I made a collection entirely of brooches entitled “I cherish even her shadow” which went on tour to the Netherlands and won a graduate prize from Galerie Marzee. It was accompanied with a book of photographs I’d taken juxtaposing modern subjects wearing my brooches into antique carte de visite card format. CDV’s as they were known in the mid-1800s were a type of portrait card which became immensely fashionable, often given as gifts, mementos or traded with visiting friends. During my research for the collection I went for a private tour of the Victoria & Albert Museum with one of the curators. I was able to go through their archives and current exhibiting pieces and study them in great detail. The name “I cherish even her shadow” was taken from the engraving of an antique locket in their collection. I think this immersion into antique jewelry and decorative processes like engraving really sparked something which I carried through into my post graduate work.
One of the most interesting things about my work is getting to source antiques and playing around with their textures as my inspiration. Sometimes it will be quite a literal translation where I’ll press the ornate embossing from a thimble case into wax and then cast it into silver to use as surface decoration on my pieces. Other times it will come in more abstract ways like my “Signature” pattern which comes from rolling the side of an antique pocket watch winder into wax. The side profile of it makes all these lovely geometric indentations. The first time I did this I was playing around with a surface texture for my wedding band. All that experimentation ended up sparking an entire collection. I think the ability to just play with a material is one of the most rewarding things about being a designer/maker. You take a vague idea in your head and it’s translated with your hands. You get to play, test out, manipulate and just see what happens. It’s an incredibly satisfying process to take your imagination into a three-dimensional form.
Right now the biggest challenge is finding time to experiment but also to run a business! Being an independent artist means I do all the marketing, packaging sourcing, jewelry making, selling etc. which can be hard to juggle. Luckily I have help from a very supportive family and husband who have become my roadies this summer while I’ve been doing a lot of shows.
The next show will be part of Fitgers Art in the Courtyard series on July 22nd from 10am-4pm. It’ll be fun for me to be in my home ‘base’ so to speak. I’ll be taking a break from shows in August (to let the roadies rest their weary arms) and will be back in September with more events.
I’m starting to look at stocking my work locally and nationally so watch this space too… If you know of any galleries or stores looking to carry my work then please let me know, I would love to expand the range of locations that I’m exhibiting in.
Art in the Courtyard, Fitger’s Brewery Complex, July 22, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Art in the Courtyard, Fitger’s Brewery Complex, Sept. 23, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Rummage MN, Minnesota State Fairground – West End Market, Sept. 29, 4 to 10 p.m. and Sept. 30 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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