10 QUESTIONS WITH JEWELLERY DESIGNER KEELEY HOGG
Keeley Hogg is a jewellery designer and maker and owner of the brand I Love Dolly. All of her pieces are handcrafted using traditional methods. You can buy I Love Dolly jewellery from their Etsy page. You can also get in touch with Keeley and commission pieces by contacting her on her Instagram page.
Calling Keeley Hogg a mere “jewellery designer” is a bit of a misnomer: she’s more of a jewellery maker, a copper and silversmith, if you will. Give her a piece of copper and silver and she’ll turn these sheets and wires into earrings, pendants, bracelets, and even cufflinks. All her pieces, which can take up to 12 hours to make, are carefully and painstakingly created by hand. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. The City Story spoke with Keeley to find out what exactly attracted her to this craft and the story behind her jewellery brand I Love Dolly.
The City Story: When did you start making/designing Jewellery?
KH: Gosh, some time ago now – time flies! My former mother-in-law bought me some tools and was into all sorts of crafts including jewellery making which really inspired me to have a go. I started off with simple beading, which turned to wire-wrapping, which turned to silversmithing. I never knew the technical skill required for setting a stone until now. It’s great to look at pieces of jewellery and understand the work involved.
TCS: What attracted you to this craft?
KH: I have dabbled in lots of crafts over the years such as knitting, crochet, life drawing, painting, pottery…if you are creative, it can be difficult to stick to just one! But making jewellery is multi-faceted and a great stage on which to play out your ideas, experiment, grow, and be free to explore artistry and craft. The endless possibilities continue to flame my passion for it – working with a range of metals (including wire and sheet silver, gold, copper, bronze, brass), soldering, metal paints, clay, enamelling, gemstones, electroforming, etching, upcycled materials – it taps into everything you could want creatively.
It helps that I love jewellery too!
TCS: Describe a typical day in your Jewellery studio – including the stages the metal and stone go through from start to finish.
KH: Well there is generally a lot of tea drinking involved! But aside from that, you start with a raw piece of sheet metal or wire, and it is then transformed using many processes such as sawing, filing, bending, shaping, texturing, hammering, soldering, and polishing before it looks like something you would want to wear. All of my jewellery is crafted by hand using traditional methods that have been used for many, many years. It’s amazing what you can create with a few basic tools! Just heating a piece of silver until it melts into a ball can be fascinating (it’s the geek in me). Setting stones opens up a whole new love and passion, with all the processes they go through before you buy them and they end up in a ring or in a brooch. I recently discovered the iolite stone (a purply-blue coloured stone). It’s depth of colour is brilliant.
TCS: What’s your favourite metal and stone to work with?
KH: There are so many types of stones, I really couldn’t choose! I spent a day out at Hatton Garden recently buying gems (a place called Ward Gemstones, which is like heaven for jewellers). I had to be dragged away!
My passion for metal started with copper. It’s a lovely rich colour that can be utterly transformed from the dull orange you see in, for example, your central heating pipes! It can be rustic or shiny and it can be soft and malleable to work with (perfect for weaving and wirewrapping). That said, silversmithing has given me the opportunity to really develop my skills and learn very advanced techniques I never thought would be accessible. I have learned most of my skills at very reasonably priced council-run courses in Waltham Forest and Redbridge where you get to meet inspiring tutors and fellow makers.
TCS: What are the key elements of your work?
KH: I like my pieces to look simple and elegant (even if the work involved tells a different story!) No two pieces are ever really the same when it comes to something handcrafted. The main point is to have a good workable design, an element of practicality and an immaculate finish.
TCS: Is there a story behind your brand name?
KH: Yes! My nan was called Doris and was often called Dolly. She was an inspiring, happy, positive, and feisty woman who was unfortunately only in my life into my early teens when she died. I still often think about her and would love her to have seen what I make. Calling my little shop I Love Dolly felt like the best way to have her somewhere in what I do.
TCS: Do you have a favourite piece of jewellery – one that you’ve designed or one that you wish you had designed and made.
KH: My favourite pieces are those I have made for my husband. I made him a pair of cufflinks with the words “Vita Brevis” hand stamped onto them (he’s a Latin teacher and it was his dating profile date, which is how we met). They were an early creation in my silversmith career and are far from perfect – they are a little wonky and off centre and the hand stamping is uneven (with one letter even being back to front!) but he loves that I made them for him, which makes me love them too. I also made his wedding ring using sterling silver and gold and the two colours complement each other perfectly. I’m proud to see him wear and love something made with my own hands every day.
I am also inspired by jewellery from ancient times (the British Museum has lots on display) as techniques used then haven’t changed much, which is astonishing when you think about how far we have come technology-wise in other respects. If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it, I guess the old saying goes! They would have used pretty basic tools and some of the pieces are simply exquisite.
TCS: What are your design ethics?
KH: It is always great to be inspired by other artists but you have to allow your own inspiration to do its work. So finding your own style is important. I still attend workshops/classes and if all the jewellers are set the same task it’s unbelievable how different everyone’s piece is!
TCS: How does your local surroundings/city inspire your work?
KH: I like to draw on nature and things around me. I love geometric patterns and art deco styles. I sometimes work with old coins which are often beautifully patterned and textured as well as being steeped in history. I also scavenge for sea glass on beaches (around the UK and abroad). The best pieces for jewellery are perfectly frosted and discovering rare coloured glass is always a treat (and fascinating to learn why certain coloured glass ends up on particular beaches).
TCS: What’s the final dream for I Love Dolly?
KH: To keep being inspired, to keep learning and to continue to enjoy making pieces people love to wear. I am working on a commission piece at the moment for an anniversary gift and it is truly heartwarming to be able to transform their vision into the piece of jewellery they want to give their partner on such a special occasion. It is one of the best things about being a jeweller!