Meet the Maker - Harriet Addyman

Friday, October 24, 2014
Nature has always been a source of inspiration for artists and crafts people for centuries, none more than jewellery designer Harriet Addyman (aka The Metal Press). We recently chatted with Harriet to discover the many processes behind each piece...
Please can you introduce yourself, and tell us a little about what you do?
The metal Press started in 2010, I had moved my business back to Wales to look after my father and found myself living near the sea. I am a lucky girl having lots of equipment to make things having worked in model making for many years but it was not until living in Pembrokeshire that I one day experimented with a sea shell, one my good old dog Oska picked up for me. I couldn't believe it worked! 
Can you talk us through the processes in making your jewellery?
I have a thing called a 'vulcanising press', which makes a rubber sandwich. I put things inside and then cook the sandwich under 2000 lbs of pressure for about 2 hours. Its not designed to be used with shells, it's usually brass masters that are made, so it was a real surprise that my first mussel shell came out - it took some doing, picking off stuck shell and scrubbing at the mould until clean - but it came out & had cast beautifully.

examples of Harriet's moulds
For casting the pewter I use a simple centrifugal casting machine. The rubber mould is placed inside and air pressure holds the mould tightly together. A ladle full of molten metal is poured through a hole in the lid as the machine is spinning helping the metal find its way to all the little bits of detail in the mould. Since casting the first mussel shell friends asked me if I could cast them one too, so of course I did. The metal pieces have to be cut off the central sprue before being filed and polished with a barrel polisher and then electroplated using brass racks that are dipped in the electroplating baths. 
Harriet's studio
The electroplating kit is all amps and volts and needle gauges, a definite alchemy. I had used electroplating with my model making , so it was an easy thing for me (lucky girl!)

Where does your inspiration come from? 
Being out in the landscape here in Pembrokeshire you cant help being awed sometimes by the ethereal beauty of the coast. At times it is truly magical and the things you find have that quality too. The collection has really grown now and includes plants and berries and baby crabs which of course can not directly go into the press for mould making so I pre-cast them in silicone rubber and then cast into high temperature resin before they go in the vulcanising press.

The Metal Press has now taken me to some lovely places with markets and venues for sharing what I do that people have begun to send me things from all over the world - sea urchins from Turkey, a starfish from Florida, a collection of beetles! I am really enjoying treasure hunting for myself and celebrating the treasure found by others. Places have such memories and the things found such significance, to be simply casting is such a pleasure. 
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
My partner bought himself a laser cutter which has given me much more to think about translation of ideas. It has made me think about design and of course it all goes back to drawing which I have not really done for years!  All work has endless possibilities and I am still really excited by creating new things, although there never seems enough hours in the day!

Thank you Harriet, such a brilliant insight to your work.  You can find Harriet's pieces of jewellery in our Made in Britain shop.
Made in Britain
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  1. Stunning work nature is a font of inspiration. I love how these pieces still have a delicacy about them.

  2. These are beautiful!!