Meet the Jeweller – Lee Appleby
We are sure by now you have all seen or heard of the amazing new talent show All That Glitters on BBC2, if not then you can catch up on every episode on BBC iPlayer. The first series has flown by with the loss of some amazing people with the skills to match, one such person is Lee Appleby, also known as Jeweller Lee, who we really wanted to know more about, so Lee kindly gave us an insight into his history and experience of being on the show, not to mention his favourite Durston Tools!
Meet the Jeweller – Lee Appleby
When I was young my parents had a second hand/antique shop, it was there that I was exposed to the wonderful old furniture, glassware, ceramics, art and of course jewellery…albeit mostly costume jewellery.
My brothers and I were often called upon to help out with house clearances and restoring furniture. I’m sure this is where my love of arts and crafts began.
After school I trained as a joiner – continuing to work with timber. A few twists of fate took me to different jobs along the way and in 2002 I became self-employed as a stained glass artist, making windows, lamps and all sorts of things translucent … including jewellery… and so the story begins.
A few years later I was asked to work at a local jewellers, the stained glass work was on the decline and it seemed the best path to take. Repairing broken jewellery and making bespoke items, every day would bring a new challenge.
As luck had it in 2003, glass would play a part in my creative journey once more. I embarked on a collaboration with world famous master glass blower John Ditchfield creating a range of jewellery incorporating his amazing handmade art glass.
We fast forward to 2020, it was a big year for me in more ways than one. I turned 50, celebrated my silver wedding anniversary and was lucky enough to be selected to take part in an amazing new TV series.
It was a brand new show, so I had no idea what to expect, so I couldn’t prepare myself in any way for the challenges that lay ahead. I was going to have to rely on the knowledge and skills that I had acquired over the years and hope that my resilient nature and perseverance would serve me well.
The show was filmed at the historical School of Jewellery in the heart of Birmingham’s jewellery quarter. Something I will never forget is the moment I walked into the workshop for the first time. I felt like a child in a sweet shop, it was bursting at the seams with every tool imaginable, it was every jewellers dream come true. I was overwhelmed with excitement but at this point I think it hit me that this wasn’t a dream, it was real and now the hard work was about to begin!
There were lots of tools that I’d never had the opportunity to use before but thankfully I could see many familiar tools that I use on a daily basis in my own workshop. On my first bespoke challenge I created a silver pod pendant which was made up of two domed sections. I was so glad to see the Durston doming set on the bench. I use these in my own studio and can rely on them to produce two matching domes of the same size, they had to be exact mirror images for the piece to work.
I have been asked in other interviews what my favourite tool is, and it has to be the Durston rolling mill. The rolling mill is used for multiple tasks and really is your best friend whether it is used to apply textures to sheet metal or converting scrap into wire and sheet, I really couldn’t live without it.
During the show I used the rolling mill to add texture to the copper pieces which formed part of my bespoke bib necklace. The pattern created a sharp contrast against the other materials and caught the eye of the client Glamrou who chose it as the winning piece. Such a proud moment.
It was a privilege to compete in such a prestigious show, being able to work alongside the other jewellers and push myself to the limit in the challenges. I learnt so much about myself during my time on the show, on both a creative and personal level. It has given me a renewed passion for
designing and making jewellery and a thirst to explore new techniques. I will never stop learning and continue to challenge myself.
I am now building my permanent collections, using recycled / sustainable materials wherever possible. Working in silver, gold, platinum, palladium and copper incorporating diamonds, gemstones, pearls, beads and amazing art glass handmade by John Ditchfield.
There is so much more to come.
We wish Lee every success with his Jewellery Making, we can’t wait to see what’s next! Visit Jeweller Lee’s website to see his beautiful work and get in touch www.jewellerlee.com