Belladonna is a sister double-act whose bold and bright (and very darkly Shakespearean) Perspex creations are a real conversation starter!
What got you started making/creating your designs / products?
As an Architect I first purchased a laser cutter to build models for my clients, to view their designs in 3D. One day my teenage daughter brought home some sparkly sheet acrylic from college. Using my architectural software, I started designing and cutting simple jewellery and a love affair with the material and its creative potential began.
How would you describe your designing / creating style?
Humorous with a touch of eerie! My designs are meant to be conversation pieces.
What is your motto?
‘Go where the love is.’ When you begin something that relies upon your own creativity, it’s not always easy to be confident in the results, so I try to take my own excitement seriously first of all. If I love it, then there’s a chance that other people will too, so it’s important not to lose sight of this in the process.
What was your first success with your designs / products?
Right at the start I was asked to present a collection at the (then) Jerwood Gallery, Hasting. The jewellery was to accompany an art exhibition and it was an absolute thrill to see people’s response to my work for the first time.
Tell us about your design process.
My design process starts with a rotring pen and paper. Once I have the idea sketched I use Adobe Illustrator to produce a vector image - this is a line drawing that the laser understands and can cut.
The assembly of the pieces after the cutting is the best part of the process, the pieces go together like a jigsaw and once glued, I have to wait 24 hours before they are peeled to reveal the finished product.
How important is the environmental sustainability of your products?
Extremely important, our acrylic jewellery is made with the environment in mind. 17% of the acrylic we currently use is recycled & recyclable and this figure is growing constantly. We offer an environmental guarantee on all our jewellery; if you break or damage the item, you can return it to Belladonna and we will repair it for free. Belladonna works out of a unique Passivhaus workshop in rural Kent, which means our making process leaves a carbon footprint close to zero. We use recycled and compostable packaging, and we drive to our events in an electric car.
What has been your most interesting commission (apart from the Globe, obvs)?
Definitely the pangolin necklace! Not only did I not know about this creature, but I was unaware of their plight as the world’s most trafficked mammal. The piece is made with walnut veneer and has sold well, with a donation going to charity for every purchase..