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Using Jewellery Making as Therapy

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

For most jewellers, making and designing is a skill they choose and fall in love with. For Nige Webber there is a deeper reason why he took up the craft.


Article Written in "The Modern Jeweller" Magazine.

Grant Forsyth, Tutor left, and Nige Webber, student (right)

I was diagnosed with PTSD in September 2022. I used to work in a secure mental health and also on police traffic so I've dealt with a lot of people self-harming or wishing to commit suicide through dealing with fatalities due to collisions.


One day I was normal holding down a job in the prison service the next my whole world just collapsed around me I started having memories and flashbacks to incidents that have been stored in little boxes inside my head for 25 to 30 years it was like I was reliving these events for the first time and I could recount the day the weather my actions clearly I had thought of self-harm but no intent to carry carrying the act out I got very little help from healthcare professionals or from work but I found my own way of coping and dealing with day-to-day things.


I found many friends dropped me like a stone when they weren't sure which Nige

would be present. Would it be the manic one, rushing around trying to keep up with

what's going on in his head, or the quiet, subdued version who can only see the

negative in things? I'd be mid conversation one minute then the next, crying and

scratching my arms, not making any sense. My wife and teenage daughter have been

supportive throughout, even during the really dark times.


My daughter is fairly arty and wants to study arts in her school options. I'm about

as creative as a smack in the head with a shovel. I'd started to draw random shapes,

just to focus my headspace on something, then one day I drew a diamond shape, then

added a bit more detail, then I looked at it again and decided that I had drawn a

pendant.


I would visit charity shops as a means of escape from the outside world when things

got too much for me and I couldn't cope when I was out and about. I would look

for items that looked nice or unusual, like cutlery or something that I could take apart

to see what the assembly process was like. I found loads of mass produced rubbish,

but also some nice bits that I took apart and remade along with other jewellery

items. Some bits I'd bought that were just too good and nice to take apart, I would

incorporate into my own piece of work. I would also look at glass bottles that I could

use for display purposes.


It was during a phone call with a psychologist when I was explaining what I was doing as a coping mechanism that he mentioned a specialist trauma college, called Stepping Stones College in Berkshire.


Jewellery work space

I was able to start on a 10 week jewellery and silversmithing course in January 2023.

My initial experience of the course was, what have I let myself in for-Ican't possibly make this stuff, as I looked at the examples of work laid out in front of me. So far, I've made a sterling silver ring, silver cabochon pendant, bangle and done form folding. I'm currently working on my end of course piece of a textured copper, brass an Thuya wood pendant [see image right). I don't have a dedicated work area so every time I want to make something I've got to get the Workmate and tool box (with limited tools and limited skill) out of the cupboard and put it away each time. But, the thing about jewellery making for me is the satisfaction of either creating a new piece or repurposing an item from a charity shop into something new. What is produced is dependent on what is going on inside my head.


I once spent two hours finely sanding a piece of oak to be fitted into a piece of

slate. On the final fitting ….. CRACK... the slate broke.


I enjoy creating jewellery out of alternate materials like exotic wood, stones, shells and repurposed pieces. I aim to have no two pieces the same- even matching earrings will have minor differences in them.



Everyone says I should sell my work. One day I will at craft shows, I just need to build

up enough stock and the courage to do it. So far, I've sent items to a friend from

Ukraine currently living in Poland and to a friend in Wates.


Mental health is nothing to be ashamed or scared of. Issues can affect anyone at any

time--I'm proof of that.


Don't hide it. Speak up. Seek help.


It's not an easy journey. I have really dark days, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and yes, it's a long tunnel.


You can follow Nige via his instagram account. nige_wbr



Introduction to Jewellery Making & Silversmithing Making Course

Classes are held at South Hill Park


Learn the basic techniques of jewellery making and silver smithing and produce some of your own jewellery to take home.


If you are interested in booking this course please contact the Stepping Stones office.


Please note that this course is only available to Stepping Stones students who have already completed either the Foundations of Recovery or Wellbeing Recovery Action Plan course at the college. It can only be booked by calling Stepping Stones office on 01344 300333


You can see a full list of our courses and workshops here.




Attending Stepping Stones is completely FREE and open to anyone aged over 18, who lives or works in the Borough of Bracknell Forest. We are an independent charity but work closely with all local services and charities. You don’t need a referral from anyone – it’s entirely up to you to decide.

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