Tucked away at the end of her back garden in Nutbourne, near Chichester. Karen has a bespoke jewellery workshop kitted out for all her needs and, although small, it is perfectly designed so that everything is within arms’ reach. Watching Karen work, we noticed a kind of physical dialogue between her and her studio, her hands intuitively moving around the space and her tools allowing her to work seamlessly. She talked us through her training at the bench as an apprentice jeweller and her happenstance path to the craft after moving on from her training as a hairdresser. All we can say is that we are very glad she did, Karen became so animated when demonstrating her work and looked completely at home poised to orchestrate her art within her studio space.
... I love my Durston rolling mills, this is definitely one of my favourite pieces of machinery which I use daily and I couldn’t be without. I have lots of hand tools like pliers that I have had for over 20 years, I can’t bring myself to replace them!...
INTERVIEWER What inspired your interest in Jewellery and when? KAREN SAUNDERS I started working as an apprentice jeweller at a Jeweller’s in Diss, Norfolk in 1988. My love of making jewellery has grown over the years; I’m very lucky that I really love my job.
INTERVIEWER What sort of environment did you aim to create with your studio? KAREN SAUNDERS My workshop had to be somewhere that incorporated a working space and somewhere that I can meet my clients.
INTERVIEWER What specialist machinery do you have in your studio? What is your most loved tool or piece of machinery, and why? KAREN SAUNDERS I love my Durston rolling mills, this is definitely one of my favourite pieces of machinery which I use daily and I couldn’t be without. I have lots of hand tools like pliers that I have had for over 20 years, I can’t bring myself to replace them!
INTERVIEWER How has the space evolved over time? KAREN SAUNDERS Last year I moved into a larger workshop space that incorporates a relaxing space, as well as somewhere to meet my clients.
INTERVIEWER What is a normal day like in your studio? KAREN SAUNDERS Making jewellery is my full time job, so every day I’m in my studio, either doing repairs or special commissions. I have to be quite disciplined because my workshop is in my garden, and I do love gardening!!
INTERVIEWER What projects are you working on at the moment? KAREN SAUNDERS At the moment I am making a lovely garnet set gold ring and matching garnet set gold earrings for a lady for her 50th Wedding Anniversary. The ring is made with the customer’s 22ct gold from her Mum’s wedding ring, so this makes it very special for her. I love special commissions like this.
INTERVIEWER When you are creatively lost or frustrated, does your space inspire you? KAREN SAUNDERS If I’m ever struggling with getting a piece of jewellery right, I have to put it to one side. Sometimes I can over complicate things, so I either do another job, or I may just get out of my workshop and do some gardening, then go back to it the next day.
INTERVIEWER What ambitions do you have for your work and studio in the future? KAREN SAUNDERS I would like to spend my days just designing and making one off commissions for people – I’m nearly there! I love my work space, I wouldn’t change much about it, apart from maybe keeping it tidier!
INTERVIEWER What is a studio to you? KAREN SAUNDERS A studio is somewhere I can create, work, and hide away in my own little world at the bench!