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Roz Buehrlen creates hand-carved, sculptural jewellery. Her necklaces feature striking emblems; anchors, skulls, roses and swallows in gold and silver, and inspired by nautical themed sailor tattoos. Roz’s attention to detail is remarkable.
Roz spent the first years of her life travelling the world with her parents who she describes as having “had a bit of a travel bug”. Arriving in the UK as a teenager, she completed a foundation course at Camberwell College of Arts then went to live and work in a bronze foundry in Suffolk.
Working for the sculptor Laurence Edwards, Roz found the sculpting and casting process – melting metals, moulding and casting them – fascinating. She went on to train as a goldsmith, honing her traditional jewellery-making skills. After having three children she joined the team at Bill Skinner, working master patterns in metal before launching her own brand.
Working from the foundry studio she built in Kent, Roz draws inspiration from the tattoos that adorned sailors in the past. She explains “I love tattoo art but have never got around to getting any”. She also loves sailing – both in the UK and competing in regattas abroad.
Roz’s nautically themed pendants - anchors, swallows, skulls and roses - all had meanings to seafarers. Anchors are tethers, they'd stop a ship from drifting and commemorate a sailor’s successful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean; skulls signified triumph and rebellion; roses were a reminder of someone close to the wearer’s heart; and swallows symbolised a safe return as a sighting of these land birds meant that shore was close by.
Swallows feature heavily in Roz’s work. They are a symbol of hope and freedom, and are also associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, believed to bring good luck and happiness. They are agile and beautiful birds cutting a dynamic shape in the sky.
Roz’s design process starts with a sketchbook and pencil. Carving her drawing directly into metal rather than using wax gives her work a sharper, more detailed finish. “With wax you chip away, it can break easily and it's consuming. Metal has a low melting point so I can be fairly brutish with it to get a level of detail that I simply can’t achieve with wax,” she says.
Working with a flat sheet of metal she uses a pendant drill to “rough out a shape”, working out the detail. A tiny, three-dimensional sculpture results, which serves as a master pattern from which castings can be made. Components are assembled, soldered together, polished and cleaned.
Roz says she is “obsessed with melting metal” and her love for this medium is evident in her work.