Press Room

Open Studios Interview with Paula White

A new artist for 2019

Paula’s workshop is tucked away at the edge of a hillside overlooking open fields and woods in Hamstead Marshall. Beyond the windows is a typical English country scene, but inside is a treasure trove of exotic beads and semi-precious stones from around the world.

Paula White in her workshop
Paula has lived abroad for much of her life, travelling far from her Woolton Hill birthplace to Namibia and South Africa. She has only been back in Britain for a year, so unsurprisingly there is a strong African flavour to the materials that she uses to create her jewellery. There is so much to look at in her small workshop, it was hard to know where to start. She showed me strings of beads made from old venetian glass rescued from shipwrecks; coconut shell beads exquisitely hand crafted by African villagers; Ghanaian chevron glass beads and West African agate. There were delicate white beads that are actually vertebrae of fish, and those hand crafted from ostrich egg shells, each bead shaped and carefully sanded and very old, as they are not made to this standard nowadays.

Large shiny cream beads shot through with a pink blush are made of fresh-water coral. She also has many pieces of quartz, and her favourite, tourmaline, that I discovered comes in many different colours. For Paula they are most beautiful in their natural flawed state, with irregular shapes and intricate natural patterns trapped in the semi-opaque stone. Paula is so in love with her raw materials that she finds it hard to part with her favourite pieces, and to make them into jewellery to sell.

There are dozens of beads and stones of all colours and sizes in glass jars on her shelves – some look edible like sweets or candied fruit. Held up to the light many reveal astonishing colours and detail. Paula starts each piece with the stone or beads she intends to use and considers how best to use them to bring out their beauty. She trained as a goldsmith in Israel, though Paula isn’t limited to gold, she works in silver, brass, copper and organic materials such as wood, leather, shell and bones. She buys silver grains and melts them into ingots then painstakingly rolls them repeatedly to create thin sheets of silver. She also creates silver wire by pulling soft pieces of sliver through a small hole with pliers.

On the day I visited she had been foraging for pieces of yew and twigs to experiment with adding textures to sheets of brass – she showed me a few pieces she had already made which were imprinted with plastic netting, giving a texture like snakeskin. Paula’s creativity constantly pushes her to try new ways to show off the beauty of natural raw materials she uses. If you can’t wait for the Open Studios in May, you can see (and buy!) some of her jewellery on her website www.thehouseofhector.co.za/

During Open Studios in May Paula will be showing her jewellery at the Headley Shop with a number of other artists, full details of their opening times are in the Open Studios Directory of Artists.

 

The Open Studios Directory of Artists is out now with full details of all the artists exhibiting and their opening times. You can get a free copy in public libraries, the Corn Exchange and other local venues and the artists themselves. Or you can download a copy of the Directory.

open high-resolution imageMaterials in Paula's workshop
open high-resolution imageA corner of Paula's workshop

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Images:
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For a PDF containing the Open Studios logos click here.

Contact:
Open Studios: John Brazendale chair@open-studios.org.uk or 07765 218296, or admin@open-studios.org.uk

 

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