How Fleur started off
Fleur always drew and made things from a young age. Her Dad, who at that time was working as a plumber, taught her how to use his tools. Fleur used some of his fittings, painted them bright colours, and made them into jewellery. A lot of family members were supportive (perhaps with painful ears and necks!).
When Fleur was 10 she was very lucky to have a junior school teacher who recognized her enthusiasm, and arranged for her to go to the local Art College every Saturday morning. Firstly, she did ceramics, and then went on to jewellery. This was really the start; her Dad built a bench in her bedroom, and this helped her to build a body of work which enabled her to enter Art College. Fleur firstly did a preliminary course for 16 year olds then went on to do a BTec in 3d Design, and then finally to a 4-year degree at The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (the London Metropolitan University) 1990-94.
Fleur took the Jewellery, Silversmithing and Allied Crafts course. This was where she discovered pewter as a medium, while doing a project in the second year; she loved it and hasn’t looked back since.
Following her degree Fleur was very lucky to be offered a place at The Royal College of Art, this gave her a great experience, and time to learn new skills, develop her own style, and work with some of the best crafts people from the UK and abroad.
In 2010, Fleur was asked to write a book on pewter by the publisher Crowood Press. This was a mammoth task for her, but one which she has been delighted to have taken on. It has meant that she met many other pewtersmiths, and by doing so, has learned many more techniques.
Fleur started glassblowing in 2013. She knew she wanted to try and combine the pewter with the glass so looked up short courses thinking if she did a two day workshop she could maybe begin to understand the basic techniques, and then commission a glassblower to make the glass for her. This didn’t happen! Fleur did a two day workshop with Jake Mee at The Smithbrook Glassblowing studio in Cranleigh, and was hooked. Following on from this she now goes one day a month, Jake is very skilled as a glassblower, and there is very little about glass that he does not know. He is an excellent teacher who encourages Fleur’s ideas and skills so she can develop her designs. The glassblowing has opened Fleur’s work up into a whole new area which she finds very exciting, and forever changing, as the pewter and glass flow into each other.
In November 2014 Fleur was invited to The Worshipful Company of Pewterers in London (together with two other Pewterers) to strike her mark at a Touchmark ceremony, this was the first time for ten years. The ceremony is now done for makers to register their marks, so that future generations can identify pewter pieces. It involved stamping Fleur’s name punch onto a pewter sheet in front of the Court and the Master. It is a great honour to have her mark kept alongside the many other pewtersmiths from the last 500 years.
Fleur has undertaken numerous commissions, and enjoys the process of working with her clients. Her largest commission to date has been to design and make a communion set for a church in Northampton. This involved making a chalice, three plates for the bread and three trays each containing thirty-six little cups that could be filled with wine to hand to the congregation. The pieces were all presented in oak boxes. This was an enormous challenge but when Fleur delivered it to the church and saw them on the table it was a very special feeling for her to know that they will be used for years to come.
Being a member of Surrey Guild of Craftsmen has created many opportunities; interacting with other craftspeople, taking part in Guild events, and exhibiting in the Gallery have all helped to raise Fleur’s profile and sell her work.
This is an occasional blog for Surrey Guild of Craftsmen submitted by Camilla Whybrow, Jewellery maker and Surrey Guild of Craftsmen member.