The Jewellery Quarter is bursting with creativity, with a community of makers and artists who continue to produce innovative work whilst continuing the tradition of making in the area. The JQ Heritage Makers project was an exciting opportunity to bring the skills of the making community to local children and young people, using the heritage of Vittoria Street as inspiration.
On 10th January, the JQTH team and four local makers – Tina Francis, Deborette Clarke, Zoe and Steve from Dual Works and Kirsty from We are Frilly met up to plan the project. The makers learnt about past residents and trades which occupied the street – milliners, a plate painter, travelling drapers, button makers, a sculptor and even an umbrella maker were here in the late 1880s.
Deborette started delivering sessions in April, she worked with students at Jewellery Quarter Academy who visited the JQTH area on their first session. They visited The Hive, learnt about button makers who were based on Vittoria Street and paid a visit to JW Evans which is located just down the road from them. Over the next few sessions the students made buttons using leather and clay, recalling the skills used in a traditional trade but using modern tools and materials with guidance from Deborette. They made button cards with a modern twist, using the stories of people and buildings as inspiration.
Zoe and Steve from Dual Works brought Year 4 students from Brookfields Primary School to the Jewellery Quarter for their first session, experiencing JW Evans and having a whistle-stop tour of Vittoria Street, including a visit to the School of Jewellery. They learnt about stamping and pressing techniques and were tasked by Zoe and Steve to design and make their own flowers for Vittoria Street! Over the next few sessions, students designed their own pressing tool to stamp patterns on their unique flower which celebrates the rich heritage of area and the skills of those who have worked here.
Tina worked with pre-school children from the Old Fire Station Nursery and their first visit was to Cooksongold on Vittoria Street. They saw gems and chains and learnt about the tools used to make jewellery, ready for their own project back at nursery! Over the next few sessions, they decorated plates, made chains and glittering boxes reflecting the many trades that have existed on Vittoria Street.
Kirsty from We Are Frilly worked with art students from Central Academy, they visited Vittoria Street and learnt about the businesses that have existed in the area. They also visited We Are Frilly’s studio, learning about new creative industries and processes. Throughout the sessions, students experimented with some of the processes including lino printing, laser cutting and paper cutting. During the creation of their work, students have woven their own journeys into the narrative of the makers of the past, and into the streets heritage.