Five Essentials: Designer and Silversmith

Five Essentials: Designer and Silversmith

By Luiza 04/05/12

Beth Dawson is a designer and silversmith, currently studying in Brighton. Here she tells IdeasMag what she couldn’t work without, from butane gas to the sea... 

Full name/age/ job title

Beth Dawson, 29, maker/designer.

What does your job involve?

A bit of everything, depending on the project. I mainly make silver jewellery at the moment but I like to make physical things: prop-like curiosities that tell a story about the person I am making them for. When I’m not making objects for specific people, I like to make toys that encourage adults to be playful and imaginative.


Five things you couldn’t work without... 

1. Butane Gas

I can get away with just small hand blowtorches because much of the silverwork I make is tiny. If you’re working on a piece to deadline, then running out of butane is bad news. Fortunately, most off-licenses and late night garages stock gas alongside their tobacco and I have been known to go on midnight missions to pick up a couple of canisters.

2. Water

When I have my head down and am working really hard, I am very bad at remembering to drink. So, before I start, I fill up a bottle or a glass and then go sit down. If I forget to do this I can find myself having not drunk anything all day and I end up feeling rather groggy, which isn’t a good idea when you’re working with power tools, poisons and sharp things.

3. BBC iPlayer or equivalent

If I’ve got a few hours of graft ahead of me, I like to have either a film I’ve seen or a not-incredibly-demanding drama series on in the background. The perfect background telly is a fine balance between something that’s not so gripping it’s distracting, yet not so idiotic that I’m just going to get angry with it. I used to listen to the radio, but having images playing in the corner of the room makes me look up from my work, which stops me straining my eyes or getting too dizzy, which again is not a good idea when you’re working with machinery.

4. Electric hand-held drill with polishing attachments

Polishing should be the most rewarding part of the job as it’s where my pieces really come to life, but I just find it so tedious. Having polishing attachments for a small hand held Dremel-type drill really speeds things along. When you’ve worked on a piece of dull metal for weeks, you forget just how shiny the silver can become. It still surprises me each time. 

5. The sea

I recently moved down to Hove from Yorkshire and although I got by fine without having such close proximity to the sea before, it is a great things to have on your doorstep. Having breaks between working is really important; fresh air too – if you’ve got a massive expanse of salty water a stone’s throw from your front door, you should brag about it in an interview. My work often returns to marine themes for inspiration and sitting on a pebbled beach, staring out to sea, is a therapeutic wonder.


Visit Beth's website.

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