Interview with Charlotte De Syllas, jewellery maker
Producing one-off commissioned jewellery since 1966, Charlotte De Syllas creates extraordinary pieces which reflect the individual. With a free hand to create her own design, Charlotte combines this approach with an exquisite use of materials resulting in a body of work which is a synthesis of craft and imagination. Colour is an elemental force in her pieces, allied to a fascination for complex organic forms, celebrated in the intricate sphere of gem cutting.
Trained in all jewellery techniques, stone carving has come to characterise Charlotte's work. Introduced to the basics of stone cutting by Gerda Flockinger and subsequently self taught, Charlotte has developed an intimate knowledge of the extremes to which stone can be shaped with care, time and expertise. Stone cutting revealed a dramatic world of colour, light and potential form. Glass is a recent material of exploration, a source of colour requiring expertise in the mercurial process of glass casting.
Audacious use of remarkable materials: Tourmaline, amethyst, black, white and lavender jades, heliodor and chrysopase, richly coloured glass, gold, platinum, coral and pearls, glitter in the imagination, whilst the sensuous shapes embrace the wearers form. These elements, harmoniously combined, vividly illuminate Charlotte's expertise in, and sympathy with, her craft.
Did you undertake formal training in college or within the Industry, or did you find your way into Crafts via a different route?
I trained at Hornsey College of Art under Gerda Flockinger.
How would you describe your work and your position within the Crafts world?
I am a jeweller who uses gemstone as my main material, carving it to create objects to wear and decorate, with metal as a secondary necessity. I am now well known within the British jewellery world.
What type of material do you prefer to use?
Gemstone and hardstones. I have developed my own particular way of using stone and researched glass, in order to cast it on a fine scale, at Wolverhampton University.
What would you most like to make that you haven't so far?
A necklace for a Garter or Mayor. The large things that are worn as a stamp of office. I would make it in very finely carved hardstone (jade or something or cameo onynx).
What would you describe as the most significant development in your work over the years?
The most significant development Janice (Electrum Gallery) and I discussed, was the use of new industrial developments in Studio Jewellery. The trade used industrial methods for economy and mass production but designer jewellers are now using rapid prototyping, waterjet cutting, laser cutting and welding etc. to further their design spectrum. It is exciting as it stretches them and the different uses that can be done with the technology.