The charm of The Collective is that it brings together a range of independent businesses and it’s ideal for creatives. As you wander down the avenue of shops, you’ll spot Val B’s Wax – a rather special jewellers and proprietor Valerie who will be helping a customer with perfect gift, planning her next bespoke piece or beavering away in the workshop. We uncover the story behind this unique jewellery studio…  

How did you get into jewellery making?

I got into Jewellery making by accident really. It certainly wasn’t anything that I had planned.  My career as a Primary School Teacher was coming to an end and I was looking for a way to make a small income to take me comfortably into retirement. I have always been creative and began by selling my Encaustic Wax artwork. The unique colour and pattern work that I was able to achieve with the waxes really satisfied me as I began to experiment with different effects. 

One day I decided to set some into a copper pendant and the story began. My very first job when I left school was at a Jewellers and from that time I have appreciated fine jewellery design. It was this that influenced me.  I decided that I wanted to create my own jewellery range not just a few hand-painted pieces but a whole range with many collections. I did some research and soon realised that I had stumbled upon something quite unique and beautiful. That was about 8 years ago now and the ranges continue to grow and diversify. 

Can you tell us about your creative process using beeswax?

The process is called encaustic art which is painting with coloured melted wax using a craft iron and a heated stylus. I use the technique to create the patterning and images then set them into the jewellery beneath either glass or resin. The waxes come in a huge range of beautiful colours.

What are the most popular pieces of jewellery that you sell in Val B’s Wax?

Its difficult to say which pieces are the most popular. The Silver Moon Seascape Jewellery that contains a unique image of a moonlit seascape continues to be very popular especially during the summer but equally our ‘Desire’ high end precious metal pieces remain popular for that one off very special piece. Since introducing resin into my jewellery the Inspired by Nature Silver Inclusion Collection has grown in popularity too.

What has been your favourite commissioned piece to make so far?

I can’t pick out a favourite but some of my most memorable pieces have been my ashes memorial jewellery. It always gives me enormous satisfaction. I feel very privileged to be trusted with a loved one’s ashes, whether it be a pet or a special loved person.  To see the pleasure that this most precious jewellery brings to someone is a very rewarding experience.

There always seem to be new ideas popping up in your displays, what’s next on the horizon?

Yes its true that new ideas are always popping up. That is often what happens, the idea pops into my head and I run with it. That’s the advantage of being a small business, I can let my creativity loose and I have learnt to trust my intuition about what is going to work.

My latest Collection that is being developed is my Real Flower Jewellery. I have been developing this with my daughter recently. We love to walk in the Shropshire Countryside and pick and press a small selection of flowers. We are really pleased with the way that this jewellery is coming along. The flowers look amazing when set in front of the wax artwork.  There is already a small selection of this jewellery in the Collective but I just know that this range is going to be a favourite and we are developing lots more designs and settings to be released in the coming weeks. 

What do you enjoy most about being part of The Collective at Darwin

The support of my fellow independents. We all have a common aim whilst having very different businesses. This means that we can all be supportive of each other. The great thing is that the Collective is open plan so we can have a chat, watch each other’s shops and generally help each other out, which is lovely. I have made some good friends in the Collective.

You can see more of Val B’s Wax Jewellery at The Collective on the ground floor of The Darwin Centre. Visit her website, follow her on Facebook and Instagram @valbswaxjewellery.