Thinking Earrings: Set of Three (J305.3)

Catalogue Record



Zoe Arnold


Thinking Earrings: Set of Three

Made in





Earring with two panels, one abstract-shaped mother of pearl piece with two gold teardrop pieces hanging from it, and one semi-circle of oxidised silver decorated with gold and diamond formations, separated by a horiztonal line of turquoise beads.


Oak box with dyed MDF lid and antique photograph, embroidered and lined with felt. Set of three earrings, mother of pearl, oxidised silver, 18 ct gold, diamonds, tourmaline slice, druzy, turquoise beads.

The poem book 'Emotional' was the inspiration for this piece. It is printed on brown paper and orange tracing paper (location Maker file).

Materials and techniques

'All made by hand, in my workshop. Each earring has hand made hinges, gold shapes fused onto the silver. Hand made settings. Mother of pearl riveted onto silver backings. Silver is textured with watercolour paper.'

(from Acquisition Information Sheet Dec. 2012)


length:  8.7cm
width:  2.7cm
depth:  1.5cm

Object number



On view

99 Bishopsgate 5&20 Exhibition
  • Thinking Earrings: Set of Three, Zoe Arnold, 2011, Crafts Council Collection: J305. Photo: Todd-White Art Photography.

  • Thinking Earrings: Set of Three, Zoe Arnold, 2011, Crafts Council Collection: J305. Photo: Todd-White Art Photography.

Related documents

Maker's statement

Sets of more than two earrings have become one of my iconic pieces over the past three or so years, I don't have pierced ears and have never worn earrings, and yet I still feel a connection with these works. They allow for a certain amount of play for the owner, choosing how to combine the earrings together. I also find boxes very satisfying, they create a miniature museum or context for the work and increase the length of time the wearer interacts with the earrings before putting them on, or putting them away.

I am inspired by my poetry, these sets of earrings are often based on my poem 'Emotional' this is something I will never explain fully, as I believe that the works should speak for themselves, although they do have specific meanings for me.

I am also inspired by the imagery I use within the boxes, often designing the works to be worn by the subject in the painting or photograph I have chosen to use.
I have never worn earrings myself so it's always like making something I could never use... I can't even try them on. So I suppose my relationship with them is more that of objects than jewellery.

When making I enjoy using a variety of techniques and materials just to make my life richer. I envy artists who can satisfy their creative urges by endlessly exploring the minute differences along a theme, but my mind always seems to get pulled away down endless possibilities. I like the thrill of creating something new every time.

I rarely make matching earrings, making pairs of things is too limiting. Instead they 'relate' to each other in some way and form some sort of visual dialogue which I find more interesting. I have made sets of 4 earrings in the past and would love to make larger sets, they very quickly add up to allow multiple combinations and options for pairing.

I started making these sets taking inspiration from paintings, not always of women. I then take the atmosphere or story from the image and create pieces which could then possibly be worn by the subject. This set in particular is inspired by a photo I had collected, made anonymous by the embroidery. A quiet and staged setting with something of the homemaker about it, yet the women I feel seems noble and has a sense of power about her.
I make everything by hand. Mother of pearl is hand shaped and riveted in place, the little gold shapes are carefully fused to the surface of the silver before being textured in the rolling mill. Each earring is hinged half way down to allow for movement when worn. I cut the felt to fit each of the pieces individually. I very rarely leave silver unpatinated, if I try to make a piece with a more natural 'silver' finish, it always ends up patinated in the end...