BAJ Tutor interview: Collette Waudby

BAJ Tutor Collette Waudby has been nominated for the National Association of Jewellers’ Designer of the Year 2023 award for her jewellery. We chat to Collette about her nomination, her experience at BAJ, and tips for budding jewellers.

BAJ: Congratulations on your nomination for NAJ Designer of the Year 2023, tell us about the jewellery that got you nominated.

Collette: I produce two types of jewellery. My limited-edition studio range that is sold predominantly by independent jewellery shops nationally and commission work.

What are some of your inspirations for jewellery making?

It goes in a bit of a circle really, a process will lead me to seek out aesthetic influence to suit while inspiration from the world around me pushes to seek a process that will reflect those observations. I spend an awful lot of time thinking, thinking, process, style, function….and when the dots join together I tend to go straight to my bench focussed on exactly what I am going to make, how it will look and how I am going to make it. In my head I’ve already made it a hundred times!!

What is your favourite jewellery making tip and why?

Pre-polish (first cut) EVERYTHING before you put it together! You will never regret it.

What is it like being a BAJ Tutor?

It has ignited such a passion to teach what I know. I really enjoy seeing the learners’ skills evolve with their self-belief. The moment they see it as their own rather than something I gave them is priceless. Being part of the Birmingham team is really supportive and encouraging too. They all share experience and are so quick to help and advise.

What is your favourite experience at BAJ so far?

Seeing the learners work in silver for the first time. This marked a point at which they actually felt they were making real jewellery.

What is your advice for someone wanting to get into jewellery making?

Master the basics and keep your toolbox simple at first. Really work on perfecting saw piercing, drilling, filing, buffing before introducing any time saving tools. Push yourself to be creative with the tools you have. If finances allow, join a class or take a short course.

What are your jewellery making plans for the future?

I am continuing my ‘rescued & re-imagined’ project. This started as a personal project during the lockdown and uses broken and discarded pieces of jewellery and stones that come to my jewellery hospital to be taken care of. The work is designed to suit the piece so all look very different to my usual style and are purposely historically ambiguous. Initially it was never really made to sell, just to take my mind off the world. However, as it grew, I offered it for sale and have sold most items to buyers in the US.

Interested in beginning your jewellery making journey at BAJ? Find out more about our courses here and tour our campus on an Open Day here.

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