Artisans Stories Uncategorized

In Conversation with Jewellery Designer Natasha Tavangari | Artisans Stories

In Conversation with Jewellery Designer Natasha Tavangari | Artisans Stories

Jeweller Natasha Tavangari set up her Cumbrian-based studio Soraya Jewellery after deciding to pursue her interest in handmade jewellery and completing a course in silversmithing. Living so close to the Lake District, it is easy to understand how the local mountains, lakes, forests, waterfalls and 'abundant nature' have become the key sources of inspiration for her work.

The natural world is evident throughout all of Natasha’s designs - from more literal interpretations, such as the silver outline of mountains for a pendant, to the more abstract portrayal of nature through natural colours, hammered metal and delicate leaf imprints.

“My design process varies, sometimes I find inspiration from going on a walk, being in nature looking at beautiful textures and fluid shapes. I use dried skeleton leaves and bark to press into the silver to create natural textures and interesting design. Living in Cumbria definitely provides lots of inspiration.”

Natasha creates this fascinatingly delicate leaf print by sandwiching a dried skeleton leaf between two pieces of silver sheet and pushing through a ‘rolling mill’.

“Then depending on the piece I am making I will then proceed to shape or dome the silver. Then finally file and polish to finish the piece” she explains.

Natasha's love for the natural environment is not just apparent in her designs, but also in how she goes about sourcing her materials. 

“I use a UK-based company to buy my 100 percent recycled silver and handpick most of my natural stones, to ensure the best quality and I try to get traceable stones where possible. I am committed to working ethically and sourcing with as little impact on the environment as possible. I work closely with suppliers to minimise social and environmental impact. All my packaging is now fully recyclable. All my offcuts of silver are used to make studs so nothing is wasted.”

While Natasha has always loved to make, she believes her creative journey truly began when she started studying Fashion and Textiles at college. She went on to study Fashion and business at Huddersfield university and then opened a shop alongside other makers before starting her own shop selling made-to-measure clothes. 

Natasha’s clothing designs were heavily influenced by historic references; in particular the 1930’s and art deco design. The geometric shapes and clean lines which defined this decade continue to feed into her jewellery design work today.

“I also look to the past for inspiration. I love the simplicity of art deco design, and use this a lot in my work.”

Besides creating and selling her own designs, (both online and at markets across Cumbria) Natasha also leads silversmithing workshops from her Penrith-based studio. At the end of the day class participants will leave with their own set of stacked rings, a pendant or a bangle (made by themselves) and an amazing experience of the full silversmithing process.

"During the ring-making class you will be introduced to the basics of ring-making, including how to size and form your rings, how to use a piercing saw, how to solder your rings into a band and how to go about adding texture with various different tools. You'll gain a range of new knowledge, meet like-minded creatives and leave with three beautiful rings."

The workshops has proven to be just as rewarding for Natasha as for her students. 

“Leading workshops has been a real joy and seeing people surprised that they have made something they never thought they had the skills to do is one of my favourite things. Sharing my knowledge with others; meeting with customers face to face; getting to know them on a personal level; listening to their stories about a family air loom or the joy when they find the perfect piece of jewellery; understanding their likes/dislikes regarding design; and bringing a piece to life that they can treasure - these are the things that bring joy and are definitely the highlight of running my own business.”

A bespoke engagement ring made by Natasha with Moss Agate stone.

Other highlights of being a craftsperson for Natasha include being her own boss and being in charge of her own destiny and the creative direction of her business. But it is not all highs - being both artist and business owner can be testing.

“Some of the challenges of being a craftsperson are time management and it can be very labour intensive. Standing out from the crowd; always thinking of new designs and techniques; finding the right balance; building a strong brand. Doing it all and wearing all the hats is the biggest challenge, being a maker, designer, accountant, marketeer and many more things.”

Natasha however has a great attitude to setbacks and has learnt to build up the resilience that is vital to success as both business person and creative.

“The biggest piece of advice I've received that's really stuck is use your mistakes to better yourself. It has seen me through building many businesses from nothing and I’ve learnt not to give up at the first hurdle.

"Running your own business can be tough and I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way which I have learnt so much from. It’s made my business what it is today. Along with hard work and believing I'm myself and taking risks my business has grown so much in the last few years and I feel proud of what I've accomplished so far.”

One such mistake has been underpricing her work.

“Its a hard thing to learn from and I tend to repeat my mistake. I have to remember to value my skills and time and that that needs to be reflected in the price.”

Having worked on several businesses with others, Natasha has also learnt that she works better independently where she can be fully in control of the creative decision making for Soraya Jewellery.

“No one is more driven than yourself and has the best intentions for your own business than you. That's been one of the hardest learning curves for me. You know what works best for you.”

Find more of Natasha's work on her Instagram or website, or click here to find out which craft fairs she will be visiting next!

Also read 'In Conversation With Allegra Galvin' | Artisans Stories