Sofie Macaenruig has been named the first ever winner of the IJL Bursary, a bursary created to support a shining graduate from Birmingham City University. Inspired by her passion for sword fighting and battle, her collection on laser engraved signet rings form an armour for the wearer.
We caught up with her in an exclusive for IJL Inspire to find out more about her work and inspirations.
1) Your work is beautiful, tell us about where you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from my life and the medieval full contact sword fighting sport I compete in internationally. Fighting with my team Swords of Cygnus and as an individual duellist abroad and in the UK is what I live for. It inspires and drives everything that I do really. It’s a lifestyle and has had a massive influence on the original inspirations for my work.
2) Tell us a little about the collection that saw you awarded the IJL bursary?
I created a collection of decorative laser engraved signet rings. The decorative detail on the signet heads was inspired by various HMB (Historical Medieval Battle) sword fighting clubs based in the UK. Each design is inspired by the heraldry of a particular club and designed around individual fighters, their favoured weapons and disciplines.
3) When did you first discover your love of jewellery?
When I was studying on the art foundation course in Chesterfield I was taught by a jeweller when I specialised in metal work and ceramics. His guidance kindled an interest in jewellery which became more than just an interest when I visited the jewellery quarter for the first time. I visited the jewellery quarter museum and just wandered the streets of the quarter for a couple of days absolutely mesmerised whilst visiting some friends in Birmingham. I immediately fell in love with allure of such a secretive community and everything about the workshops from the smells of different metals to the timeless tools. I still remember to this day doing sketches of different signet ring profiles sat studying the Smith & Pepper catalogues on that first visit about 3 and a half years ago. Clearly they stuck in my mind!
4) Who would you love to see wearing your jewellery?
I’d love to see my HMB signets become a status symbol for top fighters within the sport internationally. That would be the end goal.
5) If you had to summarise your brand in a couple of words, what would you use?
Medieval art in a modern world.
6) Talk us through your design process and what goes in to making one of your fantastic rings?
I start with creating a decorative heraldic emblem based on whatever theme I’m feeling inspired by at the time. The majority of the time my passion is driven by the sword fighting so I focused on that in this collection. The next step is sketching out rough dimensions and profile shapes for the signet. At this point I consider the shoulder detail and draw inspiration from elements within the heraldic emblem I designed at the beginning of the process. I bring my sketches to life using Matrix and 3D printing. After casting I take it back to the bench, my favourite place to be, and finish it by hand, before sending it off with a hand drawn black and white version of my emblem to the laser engravers.
7) What is next for Maceanruig designs?
Establishing my brand and just making, making, making. Who knows what the future holds, but I like a challenge and setting up a business is certainly challenging. I want to generalise the theme of the decorative elements to aim them at a wider market as well; expanding the designs to cover pendants, earrings and charms. I’m doing this at the same time as setting up and taking on commissions. Feel free to get in touch!
Check out more of Sofie’s work here and see it displayed on the Birmingham School of Jewellery stand V49 at IJL 2019.