BRIGHTON HANDMADE

SARA RHYS – METALSMITH

“I won’t judge your work clothes if you don’t mention I probably smell of metal (I’m a metalsmith).” – An extract of Sara’s email to me, shortly before we met for the very first time. I found her classified ad for a room in a new house she just moved into. At the time, I was looking for a new home in Brighton. Before I was going to meet her for a viewing, I explained that I would come straight from work. I mentioned that I would be in my not-so-friendly work attire. I didn’t realise I was about to meet a lifelong friend and an excellent metalsmith.

The first thing I noticed about Sara was her immense range of artistic skills. Not long after I moved in, she made me a very lovely “Welcome to the House” card. It had a professional quality that somehow remains to be remarkably personal. She had only known me for a brief period of time, but I felt that the card managed to sincerely welcomed me. It dawned on me that she is also a terrific illustrator. Her charming and warm personal touch can also be seen in her metalsmith creation. They are always unmistakably unique. She simply has a knack of making anyone, who is lucky enough to own or wear a piece of her work, feel sincerely special.

Sara Rhys - Necklace Sara Rhys - Workbench

Before she moved to Brighton, she had recently completed a degree from Hereford College of Arts in Metalsmithing. Coincidentally, both Sara and I moved to this lovely seaside city on a whim. Sara particularly loves the whimsical things in life and their often curious existence, especially the nature and its fond creatures. They generally become the underlying themes and ideas for her creative work, which are often intricate and very detailed. Her creation, which blends and blurs small scale sculptures with practical jewellery, is a truly wearable work of art. Visit her online store to see her adorable jewellery collection. They are all designed and forged in her cavernous and wonderful studio in Brighton (well.. Hove, actually).

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BRIGHTON? AND HOW DO THEY INFLUENCE YOUR WORK?

Brighton is the only city I could ever see myself living in. I chose it as a place to live and start my business purely on it’s reputation. As promised, I found an exciting, welcoming environment where almost everyone you meet seems to be involved in some sort of creative pursuit. So I suppose Brighton inhabitants are probably my favourite aspect about the place. So many people are exploring ideas, building businesses and making art, which is very inspiring and encouraging.

Much of my work is influenced by nature, and by small details that people often miss. Although an urban environment isn’t my natural habitat, living in a city forces me to search harder for little inspirations which ultimately brings about some surprising ideas. I’ve spent many hours wandering through the streets of Brighton, discovering little alleyways and getting lost; always keeping an eye out for curious things I can bring into my work.

Sara Rhys - Line of Reels

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED IN ESTABLISHING A CAREER AS A METALSMITH, AND HOW DO YOU FACE THEM?

The greatest challenge for anyone setting up in this business is the financial one. I need specialist equipment and there’s an endless number of tools I’d love to get my hands on. I also work mostly in silver, which is costly. I was fortunate to be awarded assistance by the Prince’s Trust that helped me get started, otherwise it would have taken years for me to kit out my workshop. The other great hurdle is one that spans all creative businesses; competition and getting yourself known. That’s an ongoing challenge, which I suspect never changes. But there’s a lot of help available, and in Brighton especially, there are loads of people in a similar position you can share ideas with.

THE CUTE AND ABSURD THINGS YOU HAVE CREATED ARE WONDERFULLY SUITED AS JEWELLERY. CAN YOU TELL ME HOW YOU WORK ON THESE IDEAS AND TURN THEM INTO A WEARABLE PIECE?

I have numerous sketchbooks filled with fragments of ideas, and a whole load more rattling round my head. The difficulty is choosing which ones to progress with, and which to save for another day. I make lots of mistakes, and learn from them, though mistakes in silver can be pretty costly so I try not to do it too often!


Sara Rhys - Large Pendant


My ideas tend to stem from nature, nostalgia and curiosity, and I really like small things! I seem to think everything’s better in miniature, and when I make something new, my first thought tends to be ‘what if it was smaller…?’ I don’t like to over complicate things, so the composition of my pieces are quite simple, but I like them to be substantial. Jewellery not only has to look appealing, but it has to be practical to wear. When I’m working on a new design, I always make a sample and wear it myself for a while to work out what problems it might have. It’s a nice bonus to have new things to wear all the time, and I always like hearing friends’ opinions; I definitely take their thoughts into account!

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Arry at Brighton Creatives

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