Sarah Marafie of Boodi Blu recycles fragments of discarded china, steeped in history and nostalgia into exquisite, handcrafted jewellery pieces. Read on to find out more...
When did you first start making jewellery, and who or what inspired you to begin?
I first started making shell jewellery as a hobby about 4 years ago. I had lots of shells I had collected on the beaches in Spain and really missed making things and creating things with my hands.
After only a few months of playing around with the shell jewellery, (which I wasn't happy with!) I realised I should start making jewellery with the piles and piles of pottery shards I had been collecting for a year or so on dog walks. I loved the blue and white colours and patterns and had so much of it, so I started researching ways of sanding and drilling them.
Do you have a studio space you work from, tell us about it?
My studio situation has suddenly gone a bit mad! I now have 2 studios!! I've had a lovely studio at Hackney downs studios for a year or so, which is one big warehouse divided up into spaces with lots of other lovely makers/designers, but I recently got offered a free studio space at Cockpit Arts for a year in Holborn, central London. They offer a great program called the creative careers program with one to one business help, open studios and your own creative mentor. So I'm really excited about that at the moment!
What mediums or techniques do you work with?
With the unearthed pottery shards, I sand them using a glass grinder which has really been a revelation. No dust whatsoever! Amazing! Then I drill all the pieces using a dremel drill and Eternal Tools diamond drill bits of course! I do this underwater to keep the drill bit cool. I then assemble the shards with wire, silver and gold chains, charms, beads and gemstones. My work is always evolving and I'm always trying to improve the way they are made.
Are there any new mediums or techniques that interest you?
Lately I've been looking into other techniques for a brand new collection, such as precious metal clays. Its amazing everything you can do with them! I also want to look into setting or silver dipping my shards. There are so many things I want to try and since I haven't studied jewellery, everything is a complete experiment. I'm really excited about the new collection.
What is the main inspiration for your designs?
More and more recently I am feeling inspired by the age of the pieces I find and past events that have occurred in the locations I find them in. This is where my new collection comes in and I am working on getting that history into the design of the pieces.
There are some amazing jewellers out there that I have recently discovered and who have inspired me to learn more about jewellery and ways of making; Jewellers such as Robert Ebendorf, Stephani Briggs and David and Roberta Williamson. I feel I'm in a real transitional stage in terms of inspiration and creativity.
Do you have any anecdotes about your work?
I've got a couple of interesting stories! I had a Valentines pop up shop this year and in walked Joseph Corre, Vivienne Westwood's son, and bought two Boodi Blu pieces! A blue and white heart necklace for his daughter and a very rare white ceramic head necklace that I had at the time! Another fun story is when I found out ‘Boodi’ means broken china in the north of Scotland and England. This is shocking to me because I only called my business ‘Boodi Blu’ after my son’s nickname ‘Boodi’ which is what I have called him since he was born in 2007 – before I had even found any pottery shards, let alone started a business!
What has been your favourite piece of jewellery that you've made?
My favourite piece was probably a large 'luxury' piece I was working on, on and off for a couple years. I took my time with it and wanted it to have the right feel and look I had in my head. I chose some lovely pale blue and white floral pieces to make up an elaborate mosaic necklace, and slowly added different gemstones and vintage charms and wrapped it all up with chains. Its a bit of a sad story actually as I made the mistake of selling it at totally the wrong price (long story) but I couldn't go back on the sale. I suppose you only learn from these things and I will never make that mistake again!
What keeps you going whilst working
Cups of tea! Music! Regular chats with other makers around me and breaks of googling or ebaying!
Tell us about where you sell your work and any upcoming exhibitions.
I sell at markets and events like the Thames Festival and Soho Flea Market. I also sell through Etsy-BoodiBlu and more recently a few little shops and galleries in the UK, and my most exciting one, The Geffrye Museum in East London! I would really like to sell to more museums. I'm now preparing for Christmas. I'll be selling at Cockpit Arts Open Studios shopping-events, The Princes Trust Christmas Fayre and a few others around London, so watch my Facebook and Twitter pages for updates!
Do you have a favourite tool?
My favourite tool has got to be my new glass grinder! Sanding with no dust is a miracle and I couldn't be without it now.
What's next for Boodi Blu?
I'm really excited about the brand new collection I want to get started on, fingers crossed it will be ready for Christmas! This year at Cockpit Arts is going to be a big boost for Boodi Blu's creations!
A huge thanks to Sarah for letting us talk to her about her loves, life and art. It's been an absolute pleasure.
If you'd like to feature in one of interviews, please feel free to contact us.