Monday, 12 December 2011

Tues 13th Dec: Hannah Martin Studio Visit

Every day my inbox fills up with email alerts from PR's about what celebrity is wearing which designer at whatever award ceremony ......... or messages "Dear Mr. Fred Butler we have an exciting new line in stockings we would love to send you to feature Ho-Ho-Hoisery". GREAT!!!! Fantastic! Exactly what I want to share with my readership - how did they know? Hashtag Irony.
So it was with great pleasure that I took a phone call from Nathan at Hannah Martin HQ inviting me to their studio in Hatton Garden to have the opportunity to show me their new work and get to know each other. Firstly how rare and genuine to have a friendly voice reaching out to you and secondly what an amazing invitation to be able to physically experience this fascinating institution, trade and young designer operating in this world.
On Friday morning I hot-footed it down to the epicentre of London's jewellery district where Hannah has her studio to be at the heart of the homegrown industry she cherishes and consciously supports with commissions. It is integral to her design process to utilise the knowledge and hereditary of the practise still running in the capital, to maintain the demand and help hand over the enterprise to the next generation. Hatton Garden in London was once the hub of the international industry where specialist sculptors had their own unique skill-set for certain facets - literally. I had no idea that stones are cut in particular styles and attributed to different practioners .......... or that it is very much a closed door world which is why Hannah's new documentary is a fascinating insight. With rare access to film inside the smoky sanctuary of smelting and smouldering casting furnaces and foundries , this clip reveals footage of how Hannah's prototypes are moulded and cast before the lengthy process of sanding and polishing. That is only a fraction of the complete life cycle of a finished article..............
The most recent article to break out of the cocoon of such a careful craft is a letter opener designed specially for Wallpaper magazine's second Handmade issue for which a handful of designers are asked to create unique products. This is the perfect example of how Hannah works in that it started life as a piece of brittle resin wax which she laboursly carved and finely shaved down to this streamline angular triangle form. It is a humble classic piece of equipment that she has totally turned on its head to become a product that could be mistaken for an actual accessory. I tried putting it on my wrist before a demonstration of how it functions for its primary purpose.......... as it fits perfectly into the aesthetic of her Shamen series of pyramid jewellery. The collection is now available at the Design Museum shop alongside the letter opener which is great news as her wares are typically high end incredible one of a kind bespoke pieces. Once I slipped on this triangle ring I didn't want to take it off again so I can now fully appreciate how becoming one of Hannah's customers can become an addictive form of retail therapy! The attention to detail, care, consideration and personal touch is all life-affirming in the hope that mass market homogonous production is not going to drown the foundations of the design world. It's great that jewellery is accessible but its also nice to know that a vital skill is being kept alive in our inherited wealth of knowledge in the artform. To champion this further and perhaps cajole Hatton Garden to open up in order to guarantee its future, this clip by Rodney Wooldridge and Pacu Trautvetter peels back the layers exposing this fascinating middle earth.
Here are snaps from Hannah's studio walls of the inspiration imagery and sketches that she compiles to start shaping each collection. Every time she finds a new muse and myriad of disparate but related sources to fuse together as an imaginary character to embody the range of pieces. Some elements are drawn by hand and transformed in CAD whilst others are sculpted straight out of plasticine by hand and finely tuned with the necessary number of finer stages in execution. The result is a classic selection of samples including cuff links and earrings which Hannah adamantly only sells in one unit as an idiosyncratic feature as much as the fluid lines in the actual article itself. Her entire archive has been photographed and documented on her website so you can trace back every element and explore each story and piece................ get lost here......... and keep on your radaar for more exciting projects in the new year ...........

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