Footprints in the Sand – A jewellery journey
There is something about sand and sand dunes that has always captured my imagination. The way sand flows through your fingertips, the mesmerising way it falls through an egg-timer and how the invisible wind can create huge, graceful yet fickle dunes.
My first real experience of sand dunes and the vastness of deserts was whilst travelling across the centre of Australia. It is a landscape that makes you feel no larger than a grain of sand yourself. And in such desolate and extreme environments it was easy to see the ways in which all the life there is connected. All creatures and plants depend on one another as it is in all dune environments; and any type of ecosystem. To save one, we must save it all.
One day taking a walk in this sandy place I encountered a skink (lizard) making its way across a stretch of bright burnt orange sand and in its wake it left the most beautiful pattern. I quickly took a photo and I didn’t realise it at the time but this image was to become the conceptual basis for my jewellery. It was only later while at university and searching for a visual representation of my journeys that I realised these tracks in the sand were it.
At the time of my university work the track patterns were a metaphor for a journey and an animal guide leading you on your way; but as I have grown I have found that they can represent so much more. I am always finding new interpretations of the tracks and new connections that they offer. As such they remain ever relevant to the themes of my life and creative work.
My track inspired jewellery offers a bridge to the natural world and the animals which made them. They are a stage for light and shade to show the raw beauty of that simplicity. In this quickly changing and uncertain world they also offer us an opportunity to reflect on the footprints we leave and how they will impact the environment around us.
After a few years of working in the jewellery industry, when I decided to start out on my own - TipToe Jewellery was created. The much laboured over name - TipToe - represents a commitment to treading lightly on the environment as well as the inspiration behind the jewellery – the footprints animals have left on the earth.
The patterns created by shadows falling within their tracks, as well as the landscape that surrounds them, is the basis for my designs. Footprints create natural knife-edge, dune-like profiles in the ground – especially in sand – and this is something that also heavily influences the form of my designs. All the patterns come to a knife edge in the centre once they have been transferred into 3D form from my drawings. I use mixed finishes of polished and textured areas on the metal to try and emphasise this – the smooth polished area as the smooth ground surface which has been compressed by the foot, and the rough textured surface as the ground not touched.
Sustainability and environmental awareness is in the foundations of my jewellery practice. From the beginning I was conscious that my desire for sustainability had to extend not just to my materials but to all the processes and practices of my studio. Through my work I hope to give back to the natural world that has been my inspiration and do what I can to support the animals and environments of my track patterns.
About the Author
I’m Georgie Orme-Brown of TipToe Jewellery, an independent designer maker of contemporary fine jewellery based in Bath. All of the work is produced by hand sustainably in our studio. The materials used are recycled, or they are carefully sourced through traceable, ethical and trusted partners. Alongside making my collections I also work to commission on bespoke and one-off projects.