Last week we had the pleasure of speaking with Hollie Paxton, an experienced jeweller and educator who has joined the British Academy of Jewellery as the BA (Hons) Jewellery Design and Production Year 1 Lead. Read below to learn more about the newest addition to the BAJ team.
Hey Hollie, we’re so excited to have you as part of the team! Can you explain your history in the Jewellery industry that’s led you to us now?
“Thanks! I’m really excited to be part of the BAJ team. The wealth of experience and technical knowledge in the Academy’s teaching team is impressive. Like many jewellers, I’ve had a meandering journey across the industry – from selling jewellery at a market stall to having my pieces stocked in stores such as Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. I’ve also ventured into making pieces for film and TV, recently working on productions on Netflix and Apple TV+. At the same time, I enjoy the more intimate process of making sentimental pieces, for example when making wedding and engagement rings.
I first studied for a fine art degree then switched to a BA at Central Saint Martins (CSM), followed by an MA at the Royal College of Art (RCA). My personal work involves thinking about how we value materials, and I’m also interested in sustainable practices. I’m hoping that, together with the team, this background will help mould the BA course in interesting and unusual ways.”
What’s a piece of advice you wish you’d known earlier on in your journey?
“When I graduated, it was hard to adjust to not having set deadlines. It was easy to let creative projects slide. I would advise graduates to give themselves small challenges that can allow them to hold themselves accountable, whether it’s to take part in a trade fair, enter competitions or even to arrange a meeting with a peer or friend. Getting in the habit of setting realistic deadlines can really help push your work forward.”
Why did you initially want to become a jeweller?
“When I started making jewellery, I enjoyed the variety of techniques and skills you need to learn, from more traditional skills such as soldering and paint-ups to designing in Illustrator – and now even working in augmented reality. There is always a new skill to learn or a technique to improve on.”
Tell us about what inspired you to get into the teaching side of things?
“I have been teaching since coming to London about 20 years ago. I’ve enjoyed teaching for charities and outreach programs – for example, CSM’s Widening Precipitation Programme and the Creative Mentor Charity, which works with children with dyslexia in schools. I’ve been working for the London College of Fashion (LCF) for the past eight years and particularly love teaching students new skills. I find watching students’ confidence and abilities grow incredibly rewarding.”
What has been the most important jewellery-making skill you’ve learned and why?
“It’s difficult to single out just one skill as there are so many that are fundamental to making jewellery, but I would say that finishing and polishing techniques are probably one of the most important as they can make or break even the simplest piece.”
Is there a piece of Jewellery you particularly love?
“One of my favourite jewellers is David Bielander, who uses materials and techniques in a very clever way.”
You can listen to our recent podcast episode featuring Hollie here to learn more about her work in the industry and our new BA (Hons) Jewellery Design and Production course. Delivered in partnership with Kingston University and launching in September, our BA offers a unique degree programme combining technical skills with creative development in design, theory and innovation for jewellery. Click here for more details.