Baroque is excited to introduce our latest collection in store by the very talented, the very mysterious Jon Forster. Jon Forster is an independent jeweller based in Brighton and our go to guy when Baroque has an extra unique commission request. Jon is a highly skilled wax carver and besides his collections Jon has also created custom pieces from vintage diving bell helmets to snakes and other wonderful creatures! Take a look at some of Jon’s pieces and get acquainted.
The woodland collection and some of Jon’s other creations:
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Kent but my family moved to Buxted, a small village in Sussex when I was about two years old and I’ve lived in this area most of my life except when I was at art college in Surrey.
What did you want to be growing up?
My childhood hero was Jaques Cousteau the famous marine biologist and inventor of the scuba tank. His programmes were always on when I was a kid and I was mildly obsessed with being underwater, we had our own swimming pool and I spent most of my spare time holding my breath for as long as possible and pretending to be a dolphin.
What inspired you to get into making jewellery?
To be honest I was never inspired to make jewellery, I kind of ended up doing it by mistake. I’d always wanted to be a comic book illustrator but I got distracted by other subjects when I did my art foundation course straight after A levels and ended up on a ceramics degree course. After the first semester it became clear that I’d made a bit if an error choosing that course but luckily the 3D Design department at my college also included glass and metal so I was able to switch over to the metalwork course which was a lot more enjoyable, the results of working in metal were more immediate and my design style leant itself more readily to working in metal.
Tell us about wax carving (process/ time..)
Wax carving is a technique that allows you to make objects or pieces that it would be impossible to make straight from metal, in other words things that are more organic than the usual forms in jewellery which are more engineered, so if I wanted to make a simple band ring I would start with some metal wire and bend it round but if I wanted a ring shaped like a skull or a bird, that’s when you would make it in wax. Once you’ve made your object in wax you then convert it to whichever metal you require through the process of lost wax casting which is a technique that dates back hundreds if not thousands of years.
What collections have you made and what have been the stories behind them?
I’ve never been great at putting collections together, I do have a load of tiny skull related pieces and then my new animal rings. I find it difficult and more than a little tedious designing what I would call “normal” jewellery i.e. stone set rings, earrings etc. there’s so much of it out there that its impossible to come up with anything innovative and as I wasn’t brought up through the traditional apprentice scheme I’ve always made pieces that are more sculptural in nature and heavy…for some reason I always make really heavy rings…knuckledragers!
Your newest collection is the Woodland animals- how did you come to making these? How long did it take?
I’d been doing a load of owl drawings for a friend who wanted an owl tattoo and I’d done so many my head was full of all this imagery, I had nothing to do one day so I thought I’d see how it would look in ring form. I’ve always got more out of the carving process than straight forward metal working, its far more reliant on individual skill and I have a natural ability, that’s not meant to sound big headed, some people are good at it and some aren’t. I just fancied making a set of sculptural rings that were a bit “out there” if you know what I mean, statement pieces, rings that you can’t miss, eye catchers. So I sat down and came up with a shortlist of five native animal species that I thought would look cool and away I went. To answer the second part of your question I would say that on average each ring took about twelve to sixteen hours to complete.
Was there anyone you looked up to when you were growing up?
Other than the aforementioned Mr Cousteau most of my other childhood idols were comic book artists or writers. People like Dave Gibbons, Kevin O’Neil, Brian Bolland, Moebius, Frank Miller and Alan Moore.
If you could have any super power what would it be?
Wolverine’s healing factor…no question.
Favourite place in the whole wide world
Any jewellery projects you’re planning for the future?
I’m thinking of more mad animal rings but I want to see how popular this first set is, I pretty much sank all my spare money into these and I need to see some return before I can even think about the next set…but I know which animals I’d like to do next but I’m afraid that’ll have to remain a secret for the moment