We asked Elements maker Charlotte Tollyfield about working as a silversmith – Charlotte tells us more about being your own boss and trusting your instincts.

What drew you to silversmithing?
I chose metalwork and jewellery as one of my ‘taster’ options whilst studying on my Foundation Course and instantly fell in ctollyfield-workshop-potraitlove. Although I’d just completed a full time, 2 year, art BTEC course I hadn’t done much in the way of applied arts and craft, and so made a point of choosing subjects I’d not tried before. However, it was in the early stages of my degree that I discovered my preference for designing and creating larger, ‘silversmithing’ objects over jewellery pieces.

What does a typical day as a silversmith look like?
I’m an early bird and like to be in the workshop by 8am. I try to cycle in as often as possible.
I have specific days for doing admin and computer work and won’t switch the computer on at any other time as find it just devours the day. Then most days are spent working on whatever projects I have at the time, commissions, pieces for exhibition and shows. The social element comes in when I have to take work to the polishers or spinner etc. I’ve made some great connections over the years and I always have to factor in time for a chat.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?
Freedom. To be creative, to think, to be myself. There can be a lot of procrastination and I have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on myself – I am the best and worst boss I’ve ever worked for. But, when the rewards come – making a sale, gaining professional recognition, or even just finishing a piece and thinking it’s a job well done – they beat anything I’ve ever gained from a ‘normal’ job.

What are the most used tools in your workshop?
Ooh, difficult. It can change so much depending on the piece. I think most recently it would be my piercing saws and files, and my blow torch. I’ve not done very much hammer work for a while.

Do you have any tips for aspiring silversmiths?ctollyfield-4-strawberries-cream-set
Another tricky one. I still feel I’m at that stage myself.
Have faith in your abilities, and trust your instincts. A bit of a cliché, but I’ve had my own confidence tested in recent months and sometimes it’s important to remind yourself of what you’ve achieved and what you’re capable of (or find someone else who can).
Be patient. Have fun!

Charlotte exhibited her stunning silverware at Elements 2. You can also discover more on her website here.

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