Rhiannon Palmer is on a mission to show how tactile, playful and beautiful concrete can be. WGSN Senior Editor Carlene Thomas-Bailey reports
Concrete is a rather strange material: you might think of it as flooring or breeze block walls, but not really a malleable material. Or at least I didn’t, until I saw Rhiannon Palmer’s designs at the recent Etsy local pop-up.
The contemporary craft graduate has taken concrete and begun creating multiple collections of beautiful jewellery, which feels interesting and unique.
“I actually started by working with ceramics and glass, and creating fine art sculptures, but then I got bored and it was the arrival of a visiting lecturer that actually made me think about concrete as a material I wanted to work with,” says Rhiannon.
In fact, that one-day workshop with the lecturer changed the course of Rhiannon’s studies at Falmouth University in Cornwall, and so she spent the last two years of her university degree playing with concrete, creating larger sculptural pieces.
Then, thanks to the smaller workspace studio she inherited post university (her parent’s basement) she couldn’t create big concrete sculptures any more and so she started experimenting with jewellery and metal work.
“The jewellery-making started as a hobby, I was just experimenting, and slowly I started to have enough pieces for an initial collection. Then as I developed the skill, I worked on my second collection Cosmos. I wanted to create a coherent story, also I love physics and astronomy. For the Cosmos collection I started dyeing concrete and working with metallic colours, I’m really happy with the result,” adds Rhiannon.
Each piece is handmade from concrete, the same stuff that you would get in B&Q or any hardware store, but Rhiannon moulds it to an array of shapes, so each piece feels unique.
“The process is an interesting one, I wet mix the concrete and pour it into a mould, the better the mould, the better the design. My work definitely has minimalist sculpture influences, and I try to create nice clean lines.”
And, are there any challenges that come with working with concrete?
“Just that it’s more vulnerable than you think. Technically it’s a ceramic, so it can chip, it has a vulnerability despite being perceived as very tough, but that’s what I love about it.”
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