Welton’s Sustainable Silversmith

Melanie Eagles, founder of The Silver Spring, is an independent silversmith living in Welton. Focused on creating one-of-a-kind handmade items, sustainability is integral to the way Melanie works. “At every single stage I think ‘what is the best way we can do this?’. All of the silver I buy is already recycled and I recycle everything I possibly can from my studio.”

As well as buying gemstones directly from the source, Melanie also uses cubic zirconia, a manmade alternative to gemstones which limits the impact on the environment as they don’t need to be mined. She also collects sea glass from the North-East coast of England with her husband to create jewellery that is colourful, elegant and completely unique.

The journey Melanie took to becoming a silversmith was also unique, as she never saw herself working in the creative field. “When my kids were growing up, I volunteered at Citizen’s Advice Bureau for about 15 years. I’m left-handed, so I never learnt to knit, sew or crochet because I couldn’t get my head around it, it was all backwards for me!” Melanie chuckles. “I can’t draw, I can’t paint, I can’t sing! I would say I was the least creative person you could bump into. But when my daughter finished school, we decided to do an activity together which was silversmithing, so we went on an evening class together and I absolutely loved it! It was a whole new world that had opened up to me.”

Melanie and her family were moving from Salisbury; however, a spanner was thrown into the works when they discovered their son, who was in the middle of his GCSEs, couldn’t continue his studies as they offered different courses and had different exam boards where they were moving. This resulted in Melanie staying with her son in rented accommodation for 9 months whilst he finished his exams. “I suddenly had loads of unexpected time on my hands, so I did a 6-week evening class which taught the basics of silversmithing and then I just played and practiced. I had a little desk in the corner of my room where I practiced with copper, and when I got a bit better, I practiced with silver and by the time we moved I decided to not get a job and start making and selling which was a huge leap of faith! But it gradually grew from there and I’ve been doing it for over 5 years now fulltime.”

The organic nature of the materials Melanie uses influences the way she works, and because silver can be melted back down and made into something else, it gives her freedom to try new things. “Sometimes it can be an accident – you start making one thing and as you’re making it you think ‘oh wow, I really like how this looks now so I’m going to stop’ and it turns into something else, or sometimes you’ll be drifting to sleep, and you suddenly think ‘how fun would it be if I made that?!’ so sometimes it’s random but I am very eclectic and I like making different things so quite often my pieces are one of a kind.”

Melanie also hosts workshops where people can experience making their own jewellery, including stacking or spinner rings. “I really enjoy sharing the passion. So many people say ‘I’m not artistic and I can’t do this or that’ but then go away with a piece of jewellery they’ve made themselves! People are way more creative than they think and it’s like this whole journey and revelation you get within three hours of the class, so it’s really fun!”

If you’d like to browse Melanie’s work, get in touch about a bespoke commission or look at her upcoming workshops, visit thesilverspring.co.uk, search for Silver Spring Jewellery on social media or email thesilverspringjewellery@gmail.com