Growing up in a family with a proud Peruvian father and beautiful bohemian mother has meant an environment a little different from most. With the swirls of bright colours in the Andean textiles covering our walls and furniture, exotic objects such as giant green snail shells, huge seed pods and ancient pots lining our shelves and of course the sound of my father playing his pan pipes drifting through the halls: I have been engulfed in a world of curiosities.
Interview with Francesca Herrera, the lady behind Palomita Jewellery!
Where are you from?
I live in Brighton but I grew up in London. A place I miss very much, the different cultures, the food, a general colourful grittiness. But every time I return from visiting there these days and step off the train to the sea salted air here I breathe a sigh of relief and nothing can beat that!
How long have you been running your label and what was is the first item you ever sold?
Its hard to say exactly when I started running my label; I like to think it was born in a bird sanctuary in the north of England. I was walking along a path with my old partner’s family when his mum picked up a parrot feather from the floor. She said ‘Francesca you make bits and bobs don’t you? How about making this into something?’ And so I did and sold my first feather earring on a stall alongside South American wares that I had collected from my travels the year before.
What was the first piece of jewellery you made?
This first piece of jewellery was most probably a design that I would have created for Kerrie Berrie beads, a place were I worked for 8 years, making jewellery designs from their beads, doing their photography and creating window displays. I really credit them for giving me confidence in my designs, they have been a great support in my creative exploits, and I’m really grateful to them for it.
What is your favourite material to work with?
I love making jewellery out of unusual and natural products, these include porcupine quills, beetle shells, parrot feathers and snake spines. I love all these products for different reasons, the feathers for their colours, the beetle shells for their emerald iridescence and the fact that if you look carefully under the shells you can see the finest print of a wing on the inside. I love my porcupine earrings with their skull top for their touch of voodoo and the snake spines because some people love ’em and some people hate ’em!
Which type of piece do you most enjoy creating?
Its an oldie, but it’s a goodie! My favourite thing to make is still the parrot feather earrings, I love sifting through all the different shapes and sizes that get sweetly delivered to me by the bird sanctuary. This charity is for birds that have not been looked after properly by their owners; they are either sent there to be re-homed, or as a half way house whilst their owners are trained up by the parrot charity to then take them back. So when I buy the feathers I know the money is going to keep all these beautiful birds happy and healthy! I also love creating my photos, its something that has evolved over the years and something i'm still learning to perfect!
Were do you work?
I have a place in rodhus studios. It houses over 30 makers, designers and artists In brighton! They range from photographers, through to woodworkers, doll makers, screen printers, musicians, fashion and product designers a hackspace and more besides! I share my actual studio with other fantastic jewellery designers such as Rebekahann jewellery and Hummungbird hawkmoth.