Meet the Inker - Gemma Brownlie

After a years sabbatical, Vanilla Ink's programme has returned in it's new home of MAKLab Charing Cross, Glasgow. 7 Inkers have joined the programme which has seen a series of changes after it's last programme finished in 2014. 3 months in to the programme, we have taken the time to interview each Inker to give you an insight of where they have come from, what inspires them and what do they envisage for their future.


VI | Hi Gemma, can you tell us a bit about your background; where are you from, where did you study?

GB | I am a process led silversmith from Glasgow. I began studying Jewellery and Metal Design back in 2010 where I spent 3 years studying at Cardonald college in Glasgow. I then went on to do a further 2 years at Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee where I graduate last year with an honours degree. 

VI | What brought you to jewellery making?

GB | When I left school I actually went on to do a HND in Graphic Design. Although I really enjoyed this course I felt it wasn't hands on enough for me and I didn't enjoy sitting looking at a computer screen all day. This made me realise after I finished the course I wanted to do more of a craft based subject. I tried a few different night courses but the one that I was really drawn to was jewellery and metal design. I spent 4 of the 5 years focusing and learning all different metal techniques and seeing what I could do with them. During this time I got a little taste of silversmithing but it wasn't until I went on an intensive 5 day workshop taught by Ndidi Ekubia that I found a intense passion for these traditional techniques. This completely changed the route I was going on and became part of the bases of my 4th year degree show. 

VI | Who or what do you take your inspirations? 

GB | I would say I take a lot of inspiration from Scandinavian Design. While doing research for my degree show I came across an amazing concept called 'Hygge'. It is a word with no English translation which embodies feelings such as cosiness, intimacy and contentment. This really connects with me as I have had many of these feelings but never had the word to describe them until now.



VI | What do you use/how do you make your work?

GB | My work is made using traditional silversmithing techniques such as blocking, raising and planishing. I tend to use fine silver as I like how it manipulates and also I like the purity of it. Each piece is hand threaded through holes in the metal which I feel brings a warmth to what is seen as a cold metal. 

VI | What do you enjoy the most about making? 

GB | I really enjoy the constant learning that comes with making. I find it fascinating how you can transform a flat sheet of metal in to something beautiful and of my own design. 

VI | What don’t you enjoy? 

GB | I would say I am a bit of a perfectionist, which means I can spend a lot of time on a piece considering the smaller details. This results in me spending a lot of time planning out the stages before committing to the design. 

VI | What are your aspirations?

GB | To continue learning and mastering my craft. I would also love to eventually pass on my knowledge to the next generation. 

Pink Fluffy Bowl

Pink Fluffy Bowl

VI | What’s your favourite piece you have created?

GB | It would have to be my pink fluffy bowl which combines fine silver with soft pink threads. I really love the clean line of threading on the outside with the soft fluffy inside which I feel looks inviting. 

VI | Who’s work do you admire?

GB | That's a really hard one to answer as there are so many amazing silversmiths that I admire. If I had to choose a top three, I would have to choose Adi Toch as I love the minimalist look to her work but that she also has an aspect of play involved within her pieces. Next I would choose Hamish Dobbie as I really like the combination of silversmithing and digital processes that he uses to create his pieces. The last person would be David Huycke as I love the precision he puts in to his work.

Adi Toch

Adi Toch