Silver linings: Three new Irish jewellers thrive in lockdown
Nicola Moran, Emma Cahill and Sarah Carroll Kelly put their creativity to good work
Hoop earrings from Nicola Moran. Photograph: Mandy Sarkis
Nicola Moran teaches yoga, is an aerial and acrobatics performer, has a degree in fine and applied art, was part of a feminist punk band and ran away to the circus after university. She now makes silver jewellery and does all of her “dreaming and drawing” on the sailboat she calls home.
From Dundalk but based in Dublin, Moran has found more time during the pandemic to concentrate on her silvermaking skills “and using those muscles again” operating from a studio space above the Irish Design Shop on Drury Street. “I like to employ my simple eco living lifestyle into the pieces I make,” she says.
Handsome silver rings, bold neckpieces and hoop earrings are made from eco silver and sometimes with recycled found objects or wood from certified forestry. “I don’t usually design pieces, I just play with shapes,” she says of a pair of earrings “that came from looking at so many cranes on my cycle in and out of the city – all those angular lines across the skyline”.
Last September for a street art performance in Dublin, she made a torc of red ice which melted and dried around her body and onto the street. There is more to discover about this fascinating multidisciplinary artist on her Instagram.com/shur_luck (circus performance thread) and nicolamoranjewellery and her website nicolamoranart.com
Another Dublin-based jeweller is Emma Cahill, founder of Spooky Jewels for Spooky Babes in sterling silver, a designer drawn to a darker aesthetic. “Alternative grungy jewellery is what I have always loved. It may look scary but there is positive messaging within my work. For example, spiders represent feminine energy and creativity. Swords represent power, protection and courage,” she says.
A graduate of NCAD in metalwork and history of art with a masters in design from Central St Martins in London, she has spent the past three years designing menswear jewellery at Asos. “Designing my own collection really helped me through the past year living in London during lockdown. Designing is my happy place and I love jewellery because it inherently holds so much sentimentality. I wanted to create alternative jewellery from precious materials that someone could have forever and wear as a positive memory”. @emmacahilljewellery
Unpredictable materials are what make Sarah Carroll Kelly’s jewellery special. She uses birchwood, plywood, brass and clay for her Shock of Grey collection founded in 2019. Her new pieces for summer 2021 include New Wave earrings “like a tiny canvas, a little picture on your ear with shapes like waves, sky and sun” inspired by her visits to family in Mayo and Sligo.
Others that stand out are Megamelt, wooden earrings that look like a melting ice cream cone made from laser cut wood suspended from a brass disc with three brass teardrops and D Doodle, large D shapes in handpainted birchwood ply with brass disc inspired by drawings of people in the sketchbooks of Sarah’s late brother, Damian, who was an architect.
A student of fine art sculpture in Limerick School of Art & Design in the 1990s, Kelly describes herself like a magpie collecting and keeping things that give her a bank of reference material. Hand drawings and doodles often turn into a shape “that becomes an element of my jewellery”, she says. Find Shock of Grey pieces online at shockofgrey.com as well as Om Diva, IMMA Gift Shop, Shells of Strandhill, Forest & Flock Bantry, The Narrow Space, Clonmel, Constantia Dunboyne and Handmade Design Studio Mullingar.