Featured Maker – Karen Fox

Published 04/05/24

Featured Artist Member, May 2024

To coincide with the anniversary of Liverpool hosting the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Ukraine, our featured Artist Member for May 2024 is jeweller Karen Fox.

Karen’s work was featured in Unity | ACJ x BDC, an exhibition of contemporary jewellery that responded to the global contest’s themes of music, unity, acceptance, and diversity. Her textile inspired sculptural jewellery has its roots in historical dress design. Working with precious metals, stainless steel mesh and recently, fresh-water pearls, she aims to create a fluid line, reminiscent of the folds, pleats, ruffles & fringes in fabric.

A graduate in Jewellery & Silversmithing from The London Metropolitan University, Karen has won awards from the British Jewellers Association, and The Worshipful Company of Pewterers & Horners. Exhibitions include ‘Rising Stars’ at The New Ashgate Gallery, The Silver Festival in Legnica, Poland and ‘MADE’, Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Above: Ruffle Necklace by Karen Fox – her ‘favourite piece’.

What inspires your work?

My work almost always has an historical starting point, following costume history for inspiration but with a contemporary edge. I love the textiles and embellishments from past eras, for example the Elizabethan ruff for its fine detailing and dramatic scale or the fringing on 1920s dresses.  I may start with a single word – ruffle, pleat, fringe or weave – and let ideas spring from there.

Images (Below): Circle Ruffle Link Earrings (Left) & Necklace (Right).

Describe your workspace.

I work from my home in North London. My workshop is a light corner space at the front of the house. It is a place where I can work steadily and think clearly without interruptions, apart from the occasional speedy dash through the cat door by my ginger cat Bob! Another part of my practice is bespoke textile cuffs and neckpieces made from stainless-steel mesh cloth and organza. I need to spread myself out more for these, so I move to the living room table to save them from being covered in a cloud of silver dust!

What is your favourite piece or design you have made?

My favourite piece is the necklace in the image [at the top of the page]. It was the first piece I made in the Ruffle collection approximately 10 years ago so gives me nostalgic vibes! It sprung from research into the Tudor era of flamboyant design and is made by finely hand-forging textured ribbons of silver and soldering the pieces together to form a densely layered, undulating surface. I then burnish the edges for extra sparkle!

Image (Below): Detail of a hand-forged Ruffle Necklace.

Who has influenced & inspired you?

During my degree at the Cass, I found a book ‘Textile Techniques in Metal’ by Arline Fisch, the American Jeweller and pioneer of adapting textile techniques to metal. This inspired me to experiment with different grades of stainless steel mesh (a techno-fabric) to create sculptural folds, pleats and ruffles. I also love the extraordinarily detailed and sculptural work of Scandinavian jeweller Tone Vigeland and researched her for my dissertation.

The highly skilled tutors at the Cass were not only masters of jewellery and silversmithing techniques but there was an intense focus on the design process too. We were encouraged to spend many hours model making to work through our ideas before even picking up a tool – perfect for someone whose drawing skills leave a lot to be desired!

A collection of Karen’s jewellery is available to purchase in the gallery and via our online shop.

Images (Below): Circle Ruffle Pendant (Left) & Ring (Right).