I was drawn to Sue Gregor's acrylic shadow necklaces even before I knew that her inspiration was the wedding disk necklaces worn by Masai women (more in a minute).
Sue's work is distinguished by her use of a ‘fossilized plastic’ process that she developed whereby each piece of jewelry includes an actual plant. What's so great about it is that you can see the veins of the leaf and other details on an embossed acrylic surface.
Read on to find out more about Sue Gregor and her work. Be sure to click on these photos, too, to see the details in the necklaces.
Masai wedding jewelry
Can you tell me something about yourself that's not on your website?
I come from a very creative family. My grandfather studied art at the Slade in 1890. My grandmother was at art school in Antwerp and was in the same class as Rene Margarette. My mother trained as an architect in the 1960's - she built one building, which was a post office that was blown up by the IRA!! She then turned to interior design. My father is a prize winning gardener. My sister is a portrait painter. My son, Max Gregor, is a very talented illustrator, street artist, and painter.
No, I have had a number of different incarnations. I have always designed and made things. It started with paper flowers when I was 12. I did a fine art degree and since then I have knitted jumpers, silk-screened and painted fabric, made clothes, costumes and worked as a milliner. I became interested in jewelry when I went to the Philippines on a family visit. I worked with companies there developing designs out of the beautiful shells and native woods that were in abundance. I returned to jewelry when I first started experimenting with acrylics.
This cuff is made using the leaves from a wild geranium plant.
I was experimenting with textiles and printing a shirt whole, including buttons and all! The buttons came out beautifully and in great detail. I decided to research what they were made of to find out if I could develop this as a process. I loved the colors that I achieved with acrylic and the embossing was very fine. I became wrapped up in experimenting and pushing what was achievable. It was very relevant to be combining the man made with something so organic and unique, like a leaf. I create a marriage between the industrial and the organic. I want to create a feeling of celebration between material and subject.
These earrings are made using the leaves from moss.
I live in a city, Bristol. My house looks out onto a park. Living in a city as I do, people might think I’d be hard-pressed to find inspiration for my leaf and floral jewelry – far from it. The plants and weeds which grow in the front gardens and wastelands, in hedges and along paths are a rich source of material. On the most desolate waste ground you can find the most beautiful leaves if you look for them. I see beauty all around me and the plants which have struggled to succeed in an urban environment give me inspiration on a personal level and for my jewelry.
This cuff is made using the skeleton leaves from a rubber plant.
It seemed a logical step. The necklaces I was making reminded me of scarves in so much as they were a splash of color and pattern. The work I make has a textile feel. So I thought why not see what happens if I make textiles!?
I created the 510 Leaves Scarf below using hundreds of skeleton leaves. I love the fact that every leaf is slightly different from all the others and wanted to make something that expressed that.
To create the design I use my own process to capture the image of 510 leaves. I developed the process during my Masters Degree at the University of the West of England. I decided that some of the images I used in my jewelry would make fabulous textiles.
What is your favorite pastime aside from creating jewerly?
I have to say that I am a workaholic! I love what I do! So most of the time I work. But I love to cook, preferably a feast for lots of people. Oh, and I love riding my bicycle.
What a great story. An urban artist finds inspiration in the plants, even weeds, around her. Plus, she makes compelling jewelry and scarves based on the plants and her own creative methods. You can see more at Sue Gregor.