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SILVERSMITH Katey Felton dreams of the day 100 years from now when The Antiques Roadshow hits town and examines one of her pieces.

"I'll be long dead and gone but it thrills me to know someone could pick up a piece of my work and say: 'Ah yes, a Katey Felton from Sheffield, made in 2008,'" says Katey, 30.

Though she's only had her own workshop for six years, Katey's goblets, cufflinks, trophies and vases have been presented to VIPs - including world leaders at a G8 summit and their wives, among them Cherie Blair.

Her pieces start at about pounds 100 and can fetch thousands.

She is now making milk and cream jugs for the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has just finished her biggest piece yet - a 20-inch salver for the National Trust's Nostell Priory in Wakefield W Yorks.

"Sometimes I don't actually believe how it has all come together," says Katey. "I love what I do. I completely lose track of time when I'm in my workshop. I can work from 7am to 10pm every day, even weekends, without batting an eyelid. I go into a quiet trance."

Katey labours over sheets of silver using traditional techniques, just as silversmiths have done for thousands of years.

Walking into her workshop - in the UK's largest complex for designers, artists and silversmiths - is like stepping back in time.

"Many of the tools are exactly as they have been for centuries," she says.

It was at this studio where Katey started out in 2002 with the two-year Starter Studio Programme for Designer Silversmiths, sponsored by the Sheffield Assay Office. "Like all silversmiths, one of the key problems I faced when starting out was the set-up costs," she says.

"The metal and the tools are expensive - silver is currently about pounds 8.70 an ounce and you need to spend hundreds on sheets of silver.

"I also needed to learn everything about business and to keep improving my skills."

She did an MA in silversmithing at Birmingham University, and her tutor mentioned the sponsorship programme in Sheffield and Katey applied.

"It gave me the breathing space to focus and to get my ideas together, without worrying about studio rent."

With the sponsorship came the muchcoveted personalised hallmark that all silversmiths need in order to make silverware.

"Mine reads my initials 'KF' in an oval, the number 958 to show it's tested Britannia silver, a rose to represent it has been assayed in Sheffield, and a letter depicting the year," she says. "The first time I saw my very own hallmark I was close to tears."

Even so, Katey, who grew up in Skegness, found the early months very tough. "I made a few pieces including a commission as part of the sponsorship but I couldn't get my head round costing and selling my work," she says. "I put so much time and love into my pieces it was almost impossible to work out their worth.

"And as a new graduate it's hard to accept someone will actually pay pounds 200 for your work!"

Her break came one day when a businessman visiting the studio complex noticed one of her bowls.

"He liked it and asked me there and then to make 10 pieces to sell in his shop in Sheffield," she says.

"It seemed to take me forever as I was so nervous. But I haven't looked back," smiles Katey.

Then, word of mouth kicked in, winning her a string of highprofile clients.

Another turning point in her career was being invited to the annual Goldsmiths' Fair in London in 2004.

"I got a free stall as part of a graduation scheme," she says. "It was always my dream to display my work alongside the best in the world.

"The stall was worth pounds 800 and I was given pounds 1,000 of silver to create work.

"From there my work started to sell even more.

Since then, I've been back every year. Last year I even won a Goldsmiths' Craftsmanship & Design Award for 'chasing'.

"It's been brilliant."


Never be afraid to ask for help. Bursaries and grants got me started and helped me keep going.

Believe in yourself. You have to be able to sell your expertise to others.

Go for something you will enjoy - it's hard graft and you spend a lot of time at work!

To find out more, visit: The Sheffield Assay Office: The Goldsmiths Company:

Silver prices:
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Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 14, 2008
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