Manifest: celebrating 40 years of the Designer Jewellers Group

Incredible as it seems, the Designer Jewellers Group (DJG) which I belong to is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year! Originating as an offshoot of the Society of Designer Craftsmen, which was itself founded by William Morris (amongst others) in 1887, the DJG has great heritage.

I’m told that in 1975 when it started there were few outlets for contemporary jewellery. The DJG set out to change this, promoting the best of studio jewellery to the public. The group’s first exhibition was in Goldsmiths’ Hall in 1977. We’ve continued to have strong links with the Goldsmiths’ Company as many of us have exhibited at Goldsmiths’ Fair, and in 1994 the group held a retrospective exhibition at The Hall. In addition the group has exhibited at venues including the Design Centre, Liberty, Harvey Nichols, a number of galleries, shops, fairs and public arts centres across the country, as well as in Japan, Dubai and the USA.

We’ve been exhibiting at the Barbican Centre in London since 1984, and now exhibit there twice a year. Each year (since 1996) we visit the New Designers exhibition to select six of the best new graduates to join us for our winter show. This scheme aims to give the chosen designers not just an opportunity to exhibit and sell their work in a top venue, but also to gain skills and contacts through participating in the running of the show, alongside regular members.

I was selected as a New Designer in 2007 through this scheme, and like many other New Designers went on to become a full member of the group. What I like about it – apart from the obvious opportunity to exhibit at the Barbican, which I love – is that it’s great to be a member of a team. As craftspeople we so often work alone, and being a member of the group gives me colleagues and a peer group, as well as the chance to contribute towards making something better for all of us. We have no paid staff, and members of the group all have to take responsibility and pitch in to make things happen: that’s great.

So I’m glad to be joining the others in ‘Manifest‘, an exhibition to celebrate our fortieth anniversary. For this we were each invited to design and make one piece of jewellery for the hand. I chose to make a ring, others also chose bangles, cufflinks, bracelets, cuffs and a hand flower or Haathphool.

The resulting exhibition will be touring. It’s first venue is the Waterperry Gallery in Oxford. Other venues this year will include The New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham, and the Craft and Design Centre in Leeds.

I’ve included images of a few pieces from the exhibition in this blog post. You can see more of the pieces on the DJG website, and in due course I’ll also write more about my piece and how I designed it. But best of all would be to see the show and associated pieces of jewellery live:

Manifest will be open daily from 16th July – 16th August in the Gallery at Waterperry Gardens, Near Wheatley, Oxford OX33 1JZ.


A Walk in the Park

Leeds Craft Gallery

I’m currently taking part in a group show in the Leeds Craft Centre and Design Gallery: it’s called A Walk in the Park and features the work of ten contemporary UK jewellery designer makers.

Christine Kaltoft jewellery

All the featured jewellers find their inspiration in birds, trees, wildlife, and the flora and fauna found in recreational open spaces.

The other jewellers are Liz Samways, Katie Stone, Joanne Tinley, Charlie High, Glenn Campbell, Kate Rhodes, Karen McMillan, Alison Haddon, and Anna De Ville.

The exhibition runs from 21st March until 27th June 2015 and looks well worth a visit!

The aftermath

Finally I did get the chance to have a bit of a look around the glorious gardens of Wisley – not because the fair wasn’t busy, but because my friend Kathy was helping me (thanks Kathy!)


We had a good last day, making this one of the best fairs I’ve done. I was particularly pleased that people liked (and bought) my new ‘nest’ jewellery collection and my new hen prints. I’ve several commissions to work on now.

A number of people were interested in buying online, so it’s just as well that getting this going properly is one of my goals for the next few months. In the meantime I can always email photos and use the credit card machine over the telephone, so do email me if you’re after something!

Sometimes I feel a bit sad on packing up after a show and this was one of those times. I was pleased to remember my purchases from the Heyland and Whittle stand this morning – I’m sure the happy sunny buzz will be conjured up each time I smell the wonderful olive and fig perfume.


Back in Bird Cottage it’s chaos in the garden (as well as the studio). The wood pigeons have decided they want to nest in the rose on the front of the house. Problem is the blackbirds have already claimed that spot, having shunted the previously resident sparrows to a nearby wall. I wonder who will win?



A flock of about 40 sparrows lives in the climbing rose outside my bedroom window, and they run their daily schedule in direct response to the sun rising and setting. This means that in the depths of winter we wake before them, and in the summer it’s definitely the other way round.

At the moment we’re pretty much in tune, and just after I wake they begin their ‘song’. Which is not a good word for it actually, as it’s not particularly tuneful. And because there are so many of them, and no orchestration, they sound pretty much like an orchestra tuning up.

As I’m in ‘design mode’ at the moment all sorts of things begin to translate themselves into jewellery in my head, and so yesterday morning I just had to sketch the sound of the sparrows as I lay in my bed.

After breakfast I began playing with some wax wire, and by lunchtime had assembled the wax doodles into a piece which I hope might become a brooch. It’s with the casters now, so I’m looking forward to seeing what I get back next week!