My creative process: Behind the scenes of designing the Chain Collection
Do you ever get a line of a song stuck in your head? Not even the whole song, just one line?
The idea of this jewellery collection started with a few words from Amazing Grace: "My chains are gone, I've been set free." It’s one of those classic hymns that many people know and love, and you might be expecting me to say it inspired my jewellery because it’s one of my all-time favourites…
…actually, it’s because of a little thing that makes me chuckle at church. About seven years ago, I moved to a much more outwardly worshipping church, where people often lift their hands during songs as an expression of praise (which was a little unusual for me, compared to the churches I’d been part of growing up). And I guarantee, any time we sing Amazing Grace and get to the “my chains are gone” line, AAALLLL the hands are in the air. You can absolutely predict the moment – every time, there’s a sea of hands lifted high. It’s always made me smile to myself.
But the more I’ve thought about it, the more the beauty of it has struck me: a consistent moment where worshipers are moved by the depth of these words, which have resonated for generations and generations of Christians. There’s a powerful feeling of celebrating freedom, and that’s the heart behind the Chain Collection.
I’d been looking through my ideas notebook (saying that makes me feel like Miles Finch in Elf - if you know you know) which is where I draw quick sketches whenever I have an idea I want to come back to… usually many months later! When I came across some ideas I’d been playing with using interlocking circle shapes and links, it just seemed like the perfect fit. As I worked on the pieces, it became this minimalist set of drop earrings, a bracelet and a necklace, each incorporating three small oval links, formed by hand so that every chain is a little unique and individual.
I’m always drawn to modern jewellery that’s simple and really easy to wear on a day-to-day basis. I love the fact that Christian jewellery doesn’t always have to be formal or ornate – it can be something subtle and small like this and still carry a mighty meaning, like reminding us of God’s love and his plans to set us free. Maybe something as small as seeing your earrings in the mirror can encourage and remind you of such GREAT things? That’s my hope!
And there’s something more to this collection than silver jewellery – one of my favourite things is my beautiful gold-foiled print.
I wanted to do a verse card to go with the collection, and my initial idea was a simple line drawing of those hands raised in praise – with bright orange nails! I have to be honest, I’m terrible at drawing, so I reached out to Sarah Nolloth, who’d recently joined Cheerfully Given. She really captured what I was after, adding in the celestial loops and stars like disappearing chains which perfectly illustrates the Amazing Grace inspiration. It was SO beautiful that I decided to try something I’ve never done before, and offer it as a limited edition print for the first customer orders. So after a fair bit of research – contacting foiling printers, checking out paper samples –here’s the result, a gold foiled A5 print on lovely cream textured paper. I’m so pleased that I was able to do something a bit different, collaborate with another creative, and really show the powerful meaning behind the jewellery collection.
It’s interesting that this creative process was all happening during such a strange year of lockdown, which has made us all recognise and value our freedom more than ever. Maybe your story of freedom is about stopping caring what people think? Maybe it's the freedom you've found in understanding more about your mental health? The freedom to love who you love, the freedom of letting go, of holding your own beliefs and values and knowing what you stand for... Or maybe it's simply looking forward to that day when we have the freedom to travel to our favourite places again and see our favourite people!
Whatever it means for you, my hope is that people who wear or gift this jewellery will be reminded of the deeper meaning and those words in Amazing Grace. Even if it does make you giggle quietly next time you sing it in church.