Rachel Elizabeth Wood - Chorley’s equestrian jeweller
A talented young silversmith from Chorley has created a business from her passion for equestrian jewellery
Rachel Elizabeth Wood grew up surrounded by the countryside and horses. Her father, Martin, spent many years as a professional show-jumper and now runs a successful stud.
‘I grew up on a farm,’ she says, ‘and my early years were spent travelling from show to show. I enjoyed it, but I realised it wasn’t the life for me and, to be honest, I probably wasn’t good enough to follow in my dad’s footsteps.’
Nevertheless, Rachel is still surrounded by horses. But these are exquisite pieces of silverware created in a workshop at her home in Chorley. ‘Like a lot of girls interested in horses, I collected equestrian-themed jewellery,’ she says.
‘But much of it came from China, it all looked very similar and it wasn’t always terribly good quality. You could say my business was based on a personal desire for something different.’
But it is also based on a considerable amount of talent. Her work has been showcased by several top institutions, including The Goldsmiths’ Company. One piece, a horse racing trophy, was selected by the British Museum for an exhibition celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and her work has been featured in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Rachel, who was born in Preston and grew up in Chorley, honed her skills with a jewellery design degree specialising in the use of metal and wood.
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‘I started off using ceramics and that involved the creation of a lot of models. This taught me about structure and how you build up muscular forms.’
The process she uses now, known as lost-wax process, involves modelling pieces in wax using tiny files and knives. This is sent to a foundry and turned into a mould which can then be used to create the finishes pieces, which are mainly silver.
Her beautiful items can include a £4,000 racing trophy, a horse head sculpture costing £585 to a set of earrings for £170. ‘Much of what I do is on a commission basis,’ says Rachel, who also has a workshop at Liverpool Hope University. ‘But you can also find my work at trade shows and in galleries.’
Her work, which also brought her a business and design award, has certainly struck a chord with the equestrian community. ‘There is nothing similar on the market so if you are into equestrian sports, you may well be drawn to my work.’
Her new collection takes the countryside theme a step further with silverware designed to appeal to followers of game shooting.
'One of my ambitions over the next few years is to build up a network of jewellers across the north west,’ says Rachel. ‘Most of the industry is based in London but we have many people doing great things in this part of the world. The challenge is to turn these individuals into a network that can support and promote each other.’
You can see more of Rachel’s work at www.rachelelizabethwood.com