I first saw the work of Cape Town silversmith Nic Wells Bladen on the finger of a friend. Before their wedding, she and her husband-to-be had gone walking with Bladen, where they’d picked seasonal grasses and twisted rings from them. These ephemeral constructions were then cast in silver, creating the most lovely, delicate wedding rings with a strong sense of time and place.
Bladen’s idea of “seasonal” jewellery, based on which plants and flowers are in season and are therefore available for casting, is a wonderful one. Teaming the ephemerality of seasonal growth with the timelessness of beautiful jewellery has a lovely balance, and the objects themselves are quite astonishingly lifelike.
Bladen’s work seems to veer more towards the realm of fine art than of jewellery – his pieces are motivated by his interest in the cycles and changes of specific species, rather than by an interest in adorment. His use of the lost wax technique has even enabled him to cast entire plants in precious metals, capturing something quite extraordinary in the process.