Walking along the windswept beaches of the North Kent Coast, Rob was intrigued by the way wood is worn and battered by the sea over many years. He noticed that the hard grain remains as the softer structures within the wood are eroded, leaving interesting smooth grooves and fin-like high spots. He recognized this phenomenon as a metaphor for life – the beauty of ageing.
He calls the collection Dusk because it has a darkness, a moodiness… it’s not lightweight and blingy, it’s exactly the opposite… strong, brooding and dramatic. There are a variety of pieces, from simple slivers creating earrings to great big chunky rings, and the stand-out piece, the large Dusk cuff – extraordinarily weighty and unmissable wristwear, which shows off Rob’s silversmith and engineering skills as it involves 26 solder joins. There are pared-down versions of most of the designs too, elegantly slim rings and refined earrings, with smaller grooves creating a nod to the deeper valleys of the larger pieces.
To really emphasise the designs’ drama, Rob has oxidised the protected recesses, so the grooves and valleys remain darkened. This is done by painting oxidising fluid, which artificially ages the silver’s surface. The fluid most commonly employed used to be liver of sulphur, but the smell in the workshop made Rob fearful customers might think he’d ‘stepped on a duck’, so he switched to a Swedish product, Platinol, and thankfully the finish is superior and the colour is richer. Rob then gently polishes the fin-like surfaces to a high shine, and the bright silver lines work as a marked contrast to the dark low spots.
Unusually, this really is a range not everyone can wear – the allure of these strong, dark, moody designs is for people with almost a gothic sensibility. It is utterly timeless and otherworldly.