Karina Gill

by Rachael Chambers

Karina Gill

Winner of the craft&design Award at MADE Brighton Design & Craft Fair 2013

By Rachael Chambers


In her rural Dorset workshop at the bottom of the garden contemporary silversmith Karina Gill sits painstakingly saw cutting a single piece of silver.  A piece of silver that will morph into a hand sculptured, hammered, folded and stunning geometric form. Around Karina’s workshop are shelves containing flat sheets of metals, tools and equipment, sketchbooks and paperwork; all of which play their part in the transformation from a flat 2D sheet of metal into a 3D piece of sheer beauty. This is creativity at its best.

“My working environment is a mixture of making, designing, planning shows, working on commissions, small batch work, marketing, and sales,” explains Karina, “and I divide my time between making jewellery and bowls.”

Sketchbooks lay open beside Karina as she works and I was intrigued to know whether this was how the creative journey of her metal bowls and jewellery begins and what inspires her to draw.

“I sketch my ideas down first, I have two sketch books one for designs ideas and one for exploring texture and pattern,” she explains. “Once I’ve decided on the general shape and proportion, I then make the piece in copper, then finally in silver. I also experiment a lot working straight into copper, ‘trial and error’ to find new shapes and outcomes.

“My strongest influences are from where I live in Dorset, the landscape that surrounds me, the Jurassic Coastline. Fossils, shells, the sea. Other influences are from textiles, pattern and print. I love colour, shape and form. Artists that have inspired me are Hudertwasser, Andy Goldsworthy and Issay Miyake.”

Karina has had her own workshop since 1996 after gaining a BA (Hons) degree in Metals when studying 3 Dimensional Design at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design in Farnham. Prior to that she studied textiles at Bournemouth College of Art and Design. 

“Since leaving college I set up my own workshop and started making pieces for exhibitions and galleries,” recalls Karina. “I started exhibiting at small craft fairs and found I enjoyed selling my work directly to the public, I enjoyed the feedback and genuine interest in my work. Working in a small rural workshop can be quite isolating, so meeting other makers and the public was a great way to gain feedback and help develop new ideas. 

I now share a workshop with my husband, who is a jobbing jeweller. I mainly sell my work through contemporary crafts fairs and exhibitions. I have a very busy year booked up already with lots of interesting exhibitions and events planned.”

Karina’s bowls are beautiful, carefully planned and intriguing to hold, her work reminds me of opening flower petals and interlocking fish scales. Once you have seen a piece of Karina’s work       you will be instantly able to spot her distinctive  style again. 

The individuality, craftsmanship and quality of Karina’s work has gained her numerous awards, most recently from ourselves, when she won our craft&design Award at the MADE Brighton Design and Craft Fair back in November last year. Karina has also received a number of Goldsmiths’ awards, as she explains,

“I have been lucky enough to have gained a few awards, mainly from the Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council. Awards are a great way of gaining recognition for your designs and craftsmanship. Attending an awards ceremony is always a privilege and an exciting experience.”

For Karina working with metal is all about the ability to shape and  re-shape, whether it be copper, silver or gold.  Amazingly each bowl is made from a single sheet of metal, which I find truly remarkable.

“You can do so much with metal, it is so malleable and enjoyable to work with. I love that you can recycle precious metals, so all is not lost if something goes wrong. Each of my bowls derives from a single sheet of metal. I freehand acid etch each piece, creating a heavily textured yet delicate surface, giving each one an organic quality. The material is cut in order to ensure there is no wastage. The metal is then hand sculpted, hammered and manipulated to create a final  geometric bowl.”

Currently Karina is working on a small scale private commission for a piece of jewellery, one which has sparked her imagination, but regardless of size or material, her meticulous precision and ingenuity comes into play.

“I have a lovely commission on at the moment,” she enthuses. “It is using a client’s gemstone as a centerpiece for a folded brooch. I’ve really enjoyed going through the design process, sending off the drawings and realizing the final piece.”

As all designer makers will know, producing the product is only part of having your own business, sales and marketing play a key role. As Karina explained previously, most of her work is sold through craft fairs and events where she is able  to meet the customer directly, this gives important feedback, but between fairs that interaction subsides. But not now that Karina has newly embraced social media as a networking and sales tool, and updated her website to complement this. 

“I’ve just finished my new website which has been a bit of a project. I have also been getting to grips with social media, and it has been far more enjoyable than anticipated. I enjoy the interaction between makers and it’s great way to find out what’s going on.”


With that in mind it only leaves me to share with you ‘what’s going on’ and where you can see Karina’s work in the next few months;


Festival of Silver in the Glasshouse

RHS Wisley Gardens, 30 April - 5 May


Dorset Art Weeks 24 May - 8 June


The Contemporary Craft Festival 6 - 8 June



T: 01258 817669

E: [email protected]




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