From Mood Board to Jewellery: The Making of the Sienna Earrings

Posted on 13 October 2016

The Sienna earrings are some of Fiona Paxton’s brand classics: Beautiful pieces of jewellery that are so much more than a few beads and feathers. Let us tell you their story, from the moment the pencil hit the paper for the first sketches over to the journey made over the ocean until the final product came to being:

The journey starts with a person. A person with an idea. This person is Fiona Paxton. She designed the Sienna earrings in Winter 2014 by putting together a mood board for the upcoming season. She was inspired by modern ethnic and modern folk and was to make something based on Inuit crafts in combination with modernist graphic street art. In order to gain more inspiration and add more ideas to the colours, shapes and meanings in her head, Fiona Paxton visited a trade show of materials for accessories in Paris and found the ultimate material addition to her collection: feathers.

After finding a supplier in the UK who hand-dyes goose feathers and after sourcing fittings and beads, the design of the collection was finalised within approximately two weeks inspired by the combination of feathers and patterned beading. Specification sheets were written meant for the makers of the products. These sheets were to scale diagrams of the beading and the finished piece along with the materials and explanations of how to make each piece. Making these sheets for four different colours generally requires a full day. Afterwards, the materials were ordered in the correct quantities and everything was sent on a journey to India.

Example of Artwork sent to the artisans in India 

This marks the end of the design process and the start of the production, which has been the same for the last few years since the first launch of the collection. The start of the production means the moment when the Indian craftspeople get involved and add the traditional Indian charme to the making process. Sucheta is the local merchandiser who oversees the sampling in India, so he is the one that Fiona discusses and clarifies designs and production with.

After the briefing, the designs are given to the Kaka maker who redraws the design on to tracing paper in pencil. She hands it on to the head of the workshop, who uses a needle puncher to draw over the lines on the paper to punch holes along the lines, approx every 2 -3mm. Afterwards the Kaka is placed on the leather to be beaded and is held in place by the beader. A wash of chalk dust and water is wiped over the tracing paper, before the Kaka is carefully lifted off leaving behind a pattern of the dots in white, marked on the leathers surface. These marks allow the beader to carefully work out where to bead.

Black and white bugle beads 

Following the markings and the original specification sheet sent along with the materials the beader begins to bead the earring and attach the feathers and chain.

Beading work in progress on the frame

During the entire production process Sucheta is in touch with Fiona Paxton and sends her photos so she can see the progress and make alterations if necessary. The first time the Sienna earrings were made it took approximately 4-6 hours to bead, however the makers get faster the more times they make the piece.

Sienna Earings

Once the beading is complete the pieces are taken out of the bead frame and passed to the making department where they sew the fronts to the backs and attach the earring hook. A quality manager visits the unit and checks them against the artwork and for symmetry, quality and finish. Only then the product is final and can be shipped back to the UK and finally to the rest of the world to spread its story.

© All photos via Fiona Paxton

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