Annette is based here in the U.K. and was one of the early “adopters “ here, for which we are very grateful. The article about Annette will talk about her use of Argentium and what inspires her work and teaching as well as some lovely examples of her work.
I come from a family background where everybody makes things, so I grew up being very practical, cooking, making clothes, repairing motorbikes, gardening and decorating. I first discovered jewellery making on my arts foundation course when I was sixteen and have been hooked ever since. I moved to Sheffield in 1972 to do my degree in Three-Dimensional Design, Jewellery and Silversmithing.
After graduating, I set up my first workshop in Sheffield city centre, in an area with lots of ‘Little Mesters’ all making cutlery, flatware, tableware and jewellery. After about six years of making jewellery and small silverware, the recession hit Sheffield and I had to diversify, so I took a teaching qualification and taught in secondary education. I mostly taught woodwork and metalsmithing. In 2001 I left teaching and returned to my first love, making jewellery.
After moving studios several times over the years, I moved into my current purpose built eco studio, in a small complex which includes a café, lots of flower meadows, and Tudor ruins just up the hill. My studio is big enough to run courses for 4-6 students, and also allows me to spread out when I am working by myself. The flower meadows are a constant source of inspiration.
I discovered Argentium silver about seven or eight years ago, when I kept reading about it on American websites. It was quite difficult to source in the UK then, so I put out an appeal on the Ganoksin jewellery forum and was contacted by Peter Johns, the inventor of Argentium.
Peter has been a great source of support and inspiration over the years, and also introduced me to Ronda Coryell who has taught in my studio many times.
I managed to find a supplier of Argentium in this country, but there was very little information around, so I applied to Arts Council England for funding to do some research and development. This gave me the opportunity to buy materials and equipment to develop a new collection of work, the Frond collection, and launch it with a solo exhibition during the Galvanize Festival in Sheffield in 2013. I continue to do research and development of the alloy with encouragement from Peter Johns.
My work is inspired by nature, as a gardener I love leaves, seeds, pods, bark, flowers, buds as well as birds and insects. I don’t work with stones, preferring to get colour into my work by using different metals together, fusing yellow, red or white gold to Argentium. I like to make all my own findings, especially chains, I find chain making quite meditative.
One of the attractions of Argentium was of course the resistance to fire stain, and to tarnishing, and I was really excited by the malleability of the material. I taught myself to do anticlastic raising and this has become a core feature of my work.
Chasing and repoussé has long been one of my specialisms, and this too is so much easier with Argentium.
When I’m not working in my studio I like to spend my time doing swing dance, or growing food in my garden, and making up vegetarian recipe.
I am very passionate about Argentium and run courses in my studio to encourage others to share my passion, as well as teaching beginners I also run master classes for jewellers in fusing and granulation and anticlastic raising. I also host chasing and repoussé courses with Il Maestro Fabrizio Acquafresca.
If you’d like to contact me about a course, or just have a chat about using Argentium, email me email@example.com
To see more of my work check out my website www.annettepetchjewellery.co.uk