Passing the Hammer: The jewellery of Breon O'Casey and Duibhne Gough

26 July - 16 August 2021

I was sixteen.

"Can you teach me how to make a pair of earrings, Dad?"

And so it started there.


We had recently moved from St Ives to a farmhouse outside Penzance and Dad had converted the garage into a jewellery workshop. He taught all of us kids how to solder, melt down scrap silver, drill beads and cut sheet metal. We all had fun, but I was the only one who wanted to stick at it. When I came home from university, in the holidays, I was always pestering Dad to teach me something new.


After some years of living in London, I moved back to Cornwall. I was lucky enough to work with Breon, one day a week, for three years, before he gave up making jewellery. That was an amazing apprenticeship.


He once said,
"When you are making jewellery, you end up with odd beads that you keep in a box. I used to get Duibhne to make up some necklaces from these beads, and she put them together so well that I used to sell them as my own!"


I think that this experience led me to create my assorted beaded necklaces. I place bead by bead, thinking of the overall result wanted, but sometimes sneaking in an unexpected colour combination to liven things up.