Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Maker of the Week - Louise Miller

Louise Miller

I create non-precious jewellery from materials such as polypropylene, resin, acrylic and paper, which are combined with elements of gold and silver. I am interested in exploring cutting techniques, such as laser-cutting to produce intricate patterns in flat, sheet material which is then handmade into wearable jewellery. I have also looked at how jewellery might be stored when not being worn and this has resulted in a series of pieces that have a dual function. For example, a bangle that is housed in the surface of a decorative tile. When the two elements come together, they become an artwork that can be wall-mounted.

Colour is another important element to my work and I find inspiration in the 'ready-made' tones found on paint charts and in interiors. Sometimes the inherent colour of a material draws me to work directly with it and I rarely mix my own colours. The paper crafts of Japanese and Mexican cultures continue to have an influence on my style and the challenge of combining low-tech, handmade techniques with modern technologies.

One favourite living craft maker (and why?)
My favourite living craft maker is Dutch jewellery artist, Nel Linssen ( She has spent many years working intuitively with the same technique of punching out and assembling paper components into rhythmic, sensual jewellery. Her use of colour and form is highly accomplished and I admire the way in which she has taken such a simple technique and created her own complex visual language from it.

What was the last art/craft/design thing you purchased? or What one product/item do you really covet? (and why?)
I spent a few days in New York over the summer and loved discovering all the small independent shops. I found a little gem called ‘Purl Patchwork’ selling all sorts of quirky fabrics, which were beautifully displayed. I got carried away and bought various lengths of material, which are now in my drawer at home awaiting attention- one day I would like to make them into a patchwork quilt. They have a good website and also a sister shop packed full of knitting paraphernalia (

At age 15 who influenced your style? Was there any individual who very much helped you on your way?
I was highly influenced by the band Blur and their modish ways. I also wanted to look like the girls out of Elastica with their short hair and sparkly tops. I am most definitely a child of Britpop and think the mid- nineties were a pretty good time to be 15 and into music. I used to walk around Bournemouth with a blonde, sixties bob and Fred Perry t-shirt searching for Damon Albarn look-alikes! At that point in my life, art and craft had very little influence on my personal style!

Last best read (book)?
'A Thousand Splendid Suns' by Khaled Hosseini (author of 'The Kite Runner'). I thought this was actually better than 'The Kite Runner' and it bought a tear to my eye. It is a very moving story about an unexpected and enduring friendship between two women during unforgiving times in Afghanistan and I would highly recommend it.

Where and what is your studio? Do you work alone? In silence, radio?
My studio is at home and that is how I prefer it. In an ideal world my home would be bigger so that I had more space but I cannot moan too much as I do have a whole room to operate from. I find being around other people when I want to work is generally distracting and I get more done when left to my own devices. Having said that I don't do this full-time. For some of the week I am in a jewellery shop interacting with other human beings! I do wonder what might happen to my brain if I spent all week at home with just the cats for company...
On the days that I am in my studio I like to listen to the radio, BBC London in particular ( I start the day with some mild ranting from Vanessa Feltz and the strange people who have enough time to ring into radio stations with a litany of complaints. Then at lunchtime it changes to Robert Elms who is very entertaining. His programme is full of weird and wonderful facts about London and he plays some good tunes. I turn the radio off in the afternoon as Danny Baker comes on and he annoys me.

What is your favourite (art) website (and why)?
It has to be This is a wonderful recourse for jewellers and anybody interested in the subject. It features the work of many international jewellers plus has regular updates on exhibitions, awards and jewellery news. You can sign up for free and they will send you a weekly newsletter.

Surprising activity/hobby?
Swimming with sharks

Do you have a good work/life balance? Are you able to switch off from art work?
It's not perfect but I think that I realised from an early stage that this profession isn't the same as a nine to five. It seems that some days, or some times of the year I work very long hours and don't seem to be getting any down time but then I do eventually find time to relax and do other things. I enjoy that I can be flexible about when I start and finish my day. For example, sometimes I prefer to start around midday but work later into the evening. Generally though, I think that it is important to have a fairly structured routine i.e. fixed times where you start and end work, then space to go and do other activities. You tend to be more productive and I would argue that creative types do benefit from this way of working.

What one word would describe your feeling of doing your work?

Do you think art and craft has any real importance?
Yes, personally it has carried me through some tough periods and given me something to focus on. If I were unable to make, design or create for some time I think that would make me very fundamentally unhappy and frustrated.

Art and craft is also important because it can bring joy to people. Sometimes it might upset them or make them stop and question a situation, or look in a different way. These pursuits are culturally nourishing and certainly have a role to play. We would be a more barren place without them.

What do think are crimes against good taste & decency in art/craft/design?
Too many scarves and felt hats at craft and design shows, no wonder the craft world sometimes gets a bad press!

Loiuse is currently exhibiting at Origin (week 2) till sunday.

1 comment:

Ellen said...

Ahhh, the days of walking around Bournemouth and dancing with our shoulders back. I remember well. Beautiful designs.