Loucinda Nims on making the 'Celebration Beaker'

Silversmith Loucinda Nims uses traditional techniques to create beautiful, clean-cut pieces with a contemporary look. This week, she described how she applied this signature style to her unique silver beaker for the Goldsmiths' exhibition, Made for the Table.

Who or what inspired you to become a silversmith?

My father is an engineer, so when I was growing up, his workshop was like a playground for me, I would make things out of anything I could find. Then I went to university and decided to do a course in 3D Contemporary Craft, which was ceramics, craft, metalwork and jewellery. I used silver for the first time and just fell in love with the material. 

How would you describe your design style?

I would describe my style as simple and considered. My aim is to create pieces that are beautiful to use as well as to look at. However, my style is constantly evolving, I love travelling and I often get inspired by the different places I visit.

Does the piece you’re creating for Made for the Table differ from your usual work — and if so, how?

My style has changed a lot recently as I have found a love for gemstones and incorporating them into my work. I have only been able to experiment on smaller pieces so far, like spoons, so this beaker is first larger piece I have made using these new techniques. It was quite nerve-racking at first and my design also involved a lot of soldering. It took a lot of planning and thinking ahead to prevent any problems occurring, but it was also really exciting to be able to show how my work has progressed.

The theme for Made for the Table is Old and New — how will this be represented in your beaker?

Beakers were traditionally an object used by one person only, a personal object which revealed tastes and interests of the owner, similar to that of a piece of jewellery. Inspired by this concept, I want to use the traditional technique of stone setting in a contemporary way, to create a vessel that adorns both the table and the user. Beakers were often used to mark an occasion, so I also wanted to create an object which depicts this.

What are your favourite things about creating a piece for commission?

Working to commission is such a rewarding process. Each commission and client are completely different which makes it more exciting and I enjoy being challenged and push out of my comfort zone. You can’t beat the feeling of when you present a finished piece to a client, and they are over the moon with it. 

What are your favourite things about being a maker?

I can't ever imagine being in a 9-5 office job. Being a maker means every day is different and you never stop learning, each day has its challenges but making is such a rewarding process, I love stepping back and looking at finished piece and seeing the transformation from what you start off with.

How have your experiences with the Goldsmiths' Centre impacted your career?

The Goldsmiths' Centre has had a massive impact on my career, I don’t think I would be where I am today without them. They offer a huge amount of support for individuals in the industry, and they are all really friendly. After finishing university, the Getting Started course was hugely beneficial for me and since then I've had various other involvements with the Goldsmiths' Centre such as mentoring, training, and various exhibitions.

Would you say you are more influenced by the contemporary, or the historic?

I am influenced by historical traditions but presented in a contemporary way. I am hugely influenced by the traditions of sitting down at a table and dining with beautifully made hand-crafted pieces. I believe eating and drinking is about the whole experience, it’s not just about what you are eating or drinking but what you are using to do so. My ethos is to create contemporary pieces that are beautiful to use and enhance the dining experience.

When designing something for use, like a beaker or tableware, which is your priority — functionality or aesthetics? How do you balance the two?

Function is a significant part of my work, creating pieces that are enjoyable to use and handle, but this goes hand in hand with aesthetics. If an object is ugly you won't want to use it. One of my favourite quotes is "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful", by William Morris.


Image copyright Simon B Armitt 2018

What in your mind sets silver apart from other tableware?

I hate nothing more than picking up a piece of tableware it being a lot lighter than you expect it to be or using cheap cutlery that leaves a funny tang in your mouth. With silver, you don’t have these problems it has a beautiful weight, it is durable, sterile, and enjoyable to use.

Why do you think silverware is still current/appealing today?

We have sadly become a society that is overwhelmed by disposable poor-quality products, but I think recently there has been a resurgence of people wanting beautifully crafted pieces that are durable and can last a lifetime. Silver plays a big part of this, as it has all these qualities. 

Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve created for commission?

I think it's probably this one, I knew it was going to be challenging, but I am really pleased with how it turned out and it shows a turning point in my work.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring makers?

My advice would be don’t give up! It is a really hard career path but also extremely rewarding. Just keep going! 

Contact Loucinda Nims