Textural and tactile jewellery designed and handmade by Kirsten Hendrich in Surrey
Kirsten Hendrich Jewellery was established in 2011 and is based in Guildford, surrounded by the gorgeous rolling hills of Surrey.
A vast amount of Kirsten’s inspiration is drawn from the local countryside, a place she spends a lot of time walking her dog, allowing for quiet, focused time to process and develop ideas in mind before returning to the workshop to experiment with the raw materials to express her design ideas.
Kirsten works with heating techniques, melting and re-forming the metal to create unusual forms and textures, building up layers and reliefs in silver while perfecting them and sculpting them using hand tools. She then brings in semi-precious and precious stones to inject vivid colour.
Kirsten is an award winning jeweller graduating from UCA, Farnham in 2011 with a First Class degree while working alongside a wide range of leading jewellers to develop her technical knowledge and understanding to perfect her own style. As well as running her independent jewellery business she also runs several jewellery classes at adult education level.
My mum (Lisa Graa Jensen) is a painter and this was always a path I thought I would follow. From a young age she used to teach me how to paint and draw and how to mix together the use of coloured pencils and watercolour inks. The idea of noisy machines, hammers and tools intimidated me and was never something I would have considered; paint brushes and paint were always my safety net to express my creative side.
In 2004 I enrolled at East Surrey College to complete my Art Foundation year; the idea is that you spend the year trying our different disciplines to help you find your direction and style. After some months playing around with my preferred medium, it was time for me to try three dimensional design. I figured I would get through my time in the workshop and then head back to my paint brushes.
However after a few days, the noise of hammers clinking against the anvil, the roar of the extractor fans starting up, and hiss of the gas bursting out the torches…I was hooked, I felt very much at home. My first project was resin jewellery, and from there my tutor suggested looking into jewellery classes at University. I found a course, applied, and secured a place.
I started my Jewellery and Silversmithing degree course in 2005 in London, but felt my passion for jewellery slowly dying; not through a lack of willing to learn, but through the delivery of the course. Workshops we often quiet or locked, class sizes too large to get any tutor attention and irrelevant subject matter (in my opinion) was taught when I felt there was so much more relevant to learn. I made the difficult decision to leave.
Having left university, I went into the world of full time work but I was determined to work my way into the jewellery industry. I spent my remaining student loan on tools and my beloved workbench and worked hard to fund short courses at Central Saint Martin’s to boost my knowledge. I tried to secure work placements, but the answer was always no.
By 2008 I was feeling frustrated and decided I needed to finish what I set out to achieve… my degree. I left a well paid job (I hated the job so that wasn’t too difficult to leave behind) and I went to university knowing I wouldn’t put up with wasted time. I knew what I wanted to achieve, I kept my head down and directed what I wanted to get from it. I was older and determined and took a risk leaving a paid job.
I graduated with a first, and spent my time during my course working with Donna Collinson, an established local jeweller, and also completed 10 other placements with various jewellers to really boost my business and technical knowledge. The tips you pick up are invaluable.
After graduating in 2011, I launched Kirsten Hendrich Jewellery and started developing my jewellery collections, doing shows and getting my work into galleries alongside working full time for a jewellers in Guildford. I left to go full time with my business in 2012 and loved every day in my workshop.
In 2013 I qualified as a teacher at adult education level, a way to get out the workshop and meet others; working alone can be quite insular. I didn’t know how much this would develop. I now run 4 jewellery classes a week and have a very strong passion for helping others develop their skills. I really enjoy meeting others, sharing our knowledge with each other and design ideas, and watching my students develop from total beginners into competent jewellers. I also learn from my students and from my research putting together handouts for my classes.
In 2014 I had my busiest Christmas ever with jewellery orders in abundance, but I also had a 2 month old baby boy and had to step back from shows and pushing my work into galleries to care for my family. I nurtured my business on a part time basis but couldn’t throw in the hours it needed. In 2016 my second child was born. By this point I had become a whizz at balancing teaching, limited sleep and keeping my business afloat on a reduced level.
As the gift of time is beginning to return now our children grow older, I find myself with time in my special place, my workshop. While I have had to slow down and focus my time on them, it had been valuable time to assess my business, my designs and what I am aiming for.
My jewellery now has more of a focus on texture and colour through use of stones, and this is something I am working hard to develop. I hope as my journey as jeweller continues, that I always move forwards, continue to learn and experiment with new techniques, and step outside my comfort zone to expand my understanding.
With some will and determination, even if it takes you longer than initially planned, you get there, and with more bumps and detours in the road than expected, your knowledge and experiences grow and help you develop your unique style. Frustration is good, it empowers you to push forward to get what you want.