Natalie Vardey's grandmother made her own hats, perfect pastry, and vestments for the clergy. Sitting at a large table in her spectacular creations, she sewed minuscule stitches on rich garments with a group of doughty ladies of the parish.
As her young companion, Natalie learned the meaning of effect and detail at that table, and it was only when she grew up that she appreciated the importance of how much had been absorbed from the women who particularly helped her during those sessions.
Years later, living by the sea, without electricity, on a small island off the west coast of Scotland, elemental extremes and resourcefulness were an integral part of her life. Work practices evolved to embrace the lack of power, rather than be frustrated by it and, although now having electricity, apart from living in an area that has frequent power cuts, she retains a sense of slow, labour intensive careful work. Creating a sense of indulgence especially within the pearl pieces, comes from an admiration for jewellers who have made beautiful intricate work for thousands of years with basic tools. Natalie tries to include an element of practicality and timelessness in everything she makes.
Each piece of jewellery is made by hand, using few machines and basic tools, working in silver and gold, weaving fine threads into delicate necklaces, hammering textures for highly polished earrings, balancing acrylic pieces in silver, constructing tactile brooches, making wedding rings and working to commission. natalie has been knitting, crocheting and weaving precious metals for years, developing the traditional skills she was taught as a small child, literally at her mother’s and grandmother’s knees. This has led to experimenting with pure silver seamless tubular knitting and other materials. Some pieces have moving parts and in others the movement is just an illusion. Some pieces include knitting and fine wirework, and in others the detail is in the perspective and contrasts of the materials, all deceptively simple ideas that illustrate the jeweller’s art.