A Conversation with Joanne Thompson | Part II

08 Jul 2020

We are celebrating Joanne Thompson's 25 years as a practising jeweller! The Gallery has represented the work of Joanne from the beginning of her career and we are delighted to be hosting her anniversary exhibition. Explore Joanne Thompson | 25 and discover the full collection online.

Welcome to the second part of our Q&A with Joanne...

A Conversation with Joanne Thompson | Part II
Holme Long Chain Earrings (oxidised silver, modelled), 2020
A Conversation with Joanne Thompson | Part II
Holme Long Chain Earrings (oxidised silver), 2020

When people are stressed their hands tend to go to the piece of jewellery they wear the most, these treasured pieces offer comfort, symbolize commitments, hold memories and have real connections to loved ones, especially when a necklace or ring is an heirloom passed down.

1. What is your favourite metal/material to work in and why?

18ct yellow gold is a dream to work with but silver is my chosen material, my chains involve a lot of material so silver is the most sensible choice.

2. What steps go into making your chainmail necklaces?

The jewellery is all handmade by myself. I use very simple jewellery making techniques. I form all the different sizes of circular links using a variety of mandrels. The forms are then created by joining the links together one by one into their specific patterns, soldering and hammering each link and building up the structure row by row. Once the pattern is complete and the piece takes its shape then it will be polished for a bright silver finish or oxidised black.


A Conversation with Joanne Thompson | Part II
Holme Long Chain Necklace (silver), 2020

3. If not jewellery… what would you be doing instead?

I’d still be making! I’d very likely be a knitter or a quilter. I’ve never actually made a quilt but I know it’s something I’m going to get into in a big way at some point down the line!

4. What tool can’t you live without?

It’s not a tool, but my beautiful Emir jewellers bench I had made for me back in 1995 is perfect. I’m quite attached to it.

5. What is so special about jewellery to you, what is the reason for it to you?

I love the associations we have with our jewellery and the importance placed on it by us. People can have great emotional attachments to these objects we wear on our bodies and that fascinates me. When people are stressed their hands tend to go to the piece of jewellery they wear the most, these treasured pieces offer comfort, symbolize commitments, hold memories and have real connections to loved ones, especially when a necklace or ring is an heirloom passed down. The power jewellery possesses is quite something, and that’s not to mention the materials the pieces are made from - precious metals and gemstones which were formed during our Earth's creation.

A Conversation with Joanne Thompson | Part II
Joanne Thompson in Edinburgh College of Art, 1990
A Conversation with Joanne Thompson | Part II
Lusk Necklace (silver, modelled), 2020

6. Who is your jewellery for? Is there a specific person you would like to wear your jewellery?

It’s for women like Elsa Cox, who wrote to me recently about a necklace she bought; “I love absolutely everything about it, the feel, the movement, the proportions, the weight and its intricacy. When I put it on it elevates me, my mood, my presence, everything. Jewellery should make you feel amazing and it does that in spades” … This makes me so happy.

7. How do you manage to keep a work-life balance?

My studio is at home which makes things easier as I can dip in and out of work and be available for the kids too. It is a juggle but it works, and having an incredibly supportive partner is a bonus!

8. Has being in lockdown given you any new ideas, realisations or perspectives?

From a business perspective, it has been extremely challenging, however I have been very fortunate to be able to continue making. I work from home and have had enough materials to see me through.

It has been really interesting to have a lot of work here with me in the studio. Collections are usually sent out to galleries and buyers as soon as they are finished. Spending time with the work and really studying it has led to time of refinement, really examining every aspect of each piece and adjusting and perfecting as much as possible. And the time away from production has given space for new designs, a new collection of earrings will be coming soon...

Please enjoy our film showcasing all of the earrings in Joanne's exhibition, modelled by Joanne herself and our MD Christina.

A Conversation with Joanne Thompson | Part II
Darrow Chain Earrings, Single Cluster (silver), 2020
A Conversation with Joanne Thompson | Part II
Darrow Chain Earrings, Single Cluster (silver, modelled), 2020

We hope you enjoyed our Q&A series with jeweller Joanne Thompson - and learnt some interesting facts about her.

The Scottish Gallery is now open by appointment only. Please call or email The Gallery to help us plan your visit.

Watch below as we install of Joanne Thompson | 25. We look forward to welcoming you into The Gallery!

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