I love jewellery. It’s not that I trip the light fantastic to high-end jewellery shops or high street chains to stock up on baskets of bling but rather that I am passionate about beautiful hand crafted pieces. I love looking at them in awe-struck wonder and appreciating the workmanship even if they are totally beyond my means. It is of course important that the skills that go into crafting these wonders tumble-down the generations, so as a lover of hand crafted jewellery I was pleased to learn that one of Ireland’s foremost practitioners of the art Deirdre O’Donnell is setting up a jewellery school in Dublin in 2012.
Those of you who live in Dublin may remember Deirdre from her shop in South Anne Street. When she talked about it she painted such vivid word pictures that it came to life before my eyes. An interior designer friend decreed that the shop’s exterior and interior could only be painted gold, the windows were dressed with sumptuous blue velvet curtains made by her mother and the fabulous stock displayed in an equally fabulous cabinet made by her brother.
Deirdre gave up the shop when her daughter was young. A set of serendipitous events brought her back jewellery making. First, out of the blue she received a call form a private client, who hadn’t realized she was no longer in the business, who wished to commission a piece. Then the day after she received that call she took her young daughter on an open top bus tour of Dublin and who should be on that same bus but her old precious stone supplier from London, who was visiting Dublin for a few days; he wondered out loud why she had given up doing something she was so good at.
It was meant to be. Deirdre went back to her craft but choose the family friendly option of making commission only pieces, in her basement studio, for a network of private clients who hail from home and abroad. She is able to create any piece of jewellery either from scratch or to remodel existing family pieces. I was agog as she described one of her most interesting commission; crafting a king and queen (chess pieces) in gold, the queen was bedecked with a crown strewn with precious stones, a belt made from rubies and a skirt trimmed with diamond. A case I think of ‘behold the magnificence’.
The School of Jewellery will offer part-time courses from January and a full-time course in the Autumn. The part-time courses can be take in modules of five or ten; just to give you an idea of prices, five classes (fifteen hours tuition) will cost €180 and ten classes (thirty hours tuition) will cost €330. Deirdre also plans to hold weekend courses (beginners and advanced) and a Summer School (week-long full-time course – beginners and advance). The full-time course commences in September 2012; Deirdre is in touch with City and Guilds and she is very hopeful that they will accredit the full-time course so that participants can graduate with a qualification (Higher Diploma in Jewellery Manufacturing).
Further details are on Deirdre’s website http://www.deirdreodonnell.ie or you can email Deirdre at email@example.com Deirdre will be at the National Craft and Design Fair at the RDS Dublin which is on from 30th November to the 4th December. At the fair she will be crafting jewellery at one of the school’s solid beech work benches and will be happy to answer questions.