Q&A: Sadie Perry of By SP

Silver orbs, uneven surfaces, oval shapes and hook clasps - Sadie Perry’s debut jewellery collection has a signature style you could recognise a mile off. The Brighton-based jewellery designer also happens to be a former Glasshouse girl (which we like to think explains her impeccable taste…) and is now a fully fledged craftswoman, fronting up her silverware brand By SP. With an eye for detail and a penchant for pared-back design, Sadie honed her skill with plenty of experimentation and a few jewellery making classes to boot. The result is a capsule collection of sculptural earrings, delicate necklaces, chokers and rings that are hard not fall in love with.

Inspiration is key to Sadie, and nothing inspires her more than culture, art and interiors - references come from far and wide, encompassing Italian arthouse films, still life paintings or even just a plush sofa from a 1970’s living room. It’s easy to see how this kind of constant visual mood-boarding (we imagine Sadie’s mind is a never ending catalogue of Pinterest boards) feeds into her work to make it utterly authentic and unique. So we thought it only right to pick the brains of this silver hammering up-and-comer, to chat technique, tools and living by the seaside.

Scroll down to read our interview with Sadie.

Could you tell us a little about yourself - how did you get into jewellery design?

I have always loved silver jewellery and worn a lot of it. At university I initially studied fashion design, however I found fabric very restrictive and didn’t enjoy the process of cutting, sewing and finishing. I changed courses in my second year to do History of Art, Design and Film which is what I eventually graduated in and loved. Whilst I was in my final year, I felt I wanted to experiment with doing something with my hands again as I was writing a lot and wanted to try a different outlet, so I took a weekend introductory class to silver jewellery making, and from there I have taken a few other classes and taught myself with lots of experimentation! I really enjoy the process and the tools used to create jewellery - you can feel as though you are being so heavy handed using hammers, saws, files and big flames but the end result can be so delicate. I find that process really interesting and inspiring.

Can you explain a bit about the process of making a piece of your jewellery?

With each new piece I design I am constantly learning something new. There are steps that will stay the same in the creation of many of the pieces, and processes that will stay the same, such as cutting, cleaning, filing and joining, but each is unique in the details. Recently I have been really focusing on setting up each piece in the best way possible for soldering (where you heat the metal to join it together) - this is something that takes a long time to master as it is very technical in terms of melting points and creating a seamless look.

The handmade finish and uniqueness of each piece is a signature of your jewellery. Why is this important to you?

I personally love vintage jewellery, and seeing the marks of the maker’s hands and tools on the surface of the silver. It reminds me of the process of making and gives the piece character. The same goes for my own work, I like to keep traces of the process visible. I don’t like to buff away all imperfections as I think they tell a story. I believe if you have a strong vision of what you want to create, it’s really important that you should do it, even if it is slightly raw - it’s a reminder that everything is part of a learning process and should be embraced for its differences and uniqueness. It doesn’t have to be militantly the same and flawless.

How integral is sustainability to your ethos?

It is very important to me. I was hugely influenced by my travels to Mexico, where I attended a jewellery course in a mountain town just up from Mexico City, and also visited an old silver mine. Understanding where silver initially came from was so inspiring and also pushed me to research using recycled silver wherever possible. I have also sourced recycled packaging and use found components in some of my designs that I pick up from markets and charity shops. Like anything, there is a limited amount of silver in the world and I think it is important to be mindful of that. I also enjoy the idea that an old silver set of cutlery that someone has had in their attic for years can be melted down and reincarnated to be worn in someone’s ears, completely distant from its initial purpose and form.

What inspires your work and what kind of aesthetic do you try and channel?

My main inspiration comes from film stills, interior details and objects which I use to form my ideas about shape and scale. I am drawn to spaces that have an element of opulence to them but are simultaneously curated with a sense of simplicity and intuition. In general I look at a lot of imagery in books and on Pinterest, and create little still lives of objects I buy in charity shops in my bedroom, so I think sub consciously both of that influences me in my work in terms of shape. I would like my work to sit just as well in a group of objects on a dressing table as it does on the individual wearing it. I find objects extremely inspiring, both functional and aesthetic, and I feel very aware of the importance of how your surroundings can influence you. I love vases, even when they are empty, for their colour and shape, and currently anything lacquered, lucite, wood or woven are catching my eye.

What do you think the enduring appeal of a lovingly made piece of jewellery is?

I think jewellery has always and will always have an association with luxury, especially if it is handmade to order. When something is handmade it makes it extra special and I feel even more appreciative of it’s beauty. For me I think that wearing jewellery can make you feel much more put together even if you are just wearing jeans and a jumper, so investing in it is a good way to treat yourself or someone to something that you know will make them feel good.

What kind of girl can you imagine wearing your pieces?

I like to think I am designing classics that people will want to wear forever combined with their own existing favourites. I wouldn’t say I have a particular kind of girl in mind when I am designing as I would like to think my work is inclusive and adaptive – for example I like to wear a lot of jewellery, so for me a simple neck ring layered with a large pendant necklace and some big earrings and a chunky ring feels comfortable, but someone else may just wear one of those items and feel special and dressed up.

What do you do to unwind?

I live in a city close to the beach so this last summer I really appreciated the fact that I don’t have to be on holiday to go swimming in the sea. On days off I enjoy going to car boot fairs, markets, second hand shops as I find them very inspiring and I love finding a bargain! In general I am very much a homebody - I spend a lot of my evenings in the bath, or spending time with a friend making dinner at their house or going out for food and then going back to watch a film in our pyjamas with a glass (bottle!) of wine.

Who’s your ultimate hair muse?

As some of the Glasshouse girls will know, I find my hair quite difficult as it’s dry and frizzy! I used to muse on pictures of Natassja Kinski in Paris, Texas and Jane Birkin but now I am learning to embrace my own hair and look to more realistic aspirations - I love old pictures of Emmanuelle Seigner, Isabelle Adjani and Charlotte Rampling and the Christopher Lemaire Spring 2016 hair.

Photography: Ruby Woodhouse

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