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Works starts on 2018 Eisteddfod Crown

7 December 2017

Laura Thomas

A contemporary jeweller who was inspired by her grandfather’s woodworking skills has started creating her innovative Crown design for next year’s National Eisteddfod in Cardiff.

Laura Thomas, from Neath, aims to produce a unique Crown that is contemporary yet respectful of the National Eisteddfod’s traditions.

Sponsored by Cardiff University in 2018, her Crown will require hundreds of hours of painstaking work before it adorns the winner of one of the two major Eisteddfod poetry competitions.

Signature technique

The design cannot yet be revealed but Laura’s creation will be unlike anything that has preceded it. Her signature technique, parquetry, where she inlays wood veneer into sterling silver, will be the Crown’s defining feature.

She said: “I'm going to be inlaying three types of veneers, originated from South America and Europe, but I have not quite decided upon one of them yet. The Crown will also include dyed tulip.

“I'll be inlaying the veneers by hand and then assembling the silver to create the structure of the Crown. The Crown also has an adjustment mechanism to allow for the circumference of a small and large head, as we won't know until August 2018 who has won it.”

Laura Thomas brooch
Laura's signature style involves parquetry - the use of wood for geometric patterns.

Laura’s love of working with wood appears to be part nurture and part nature.

“When I was a young child my grandfather Jack Owen used to make little carved animals from solid wood and plywood,” she said.

“I've kept them locked away and safe in my home for 30 years.

“I really enjoyed woodwork classes in school. Nowadays, I get more excited about a new wood veneer over a new pair of shoes!”

University patterns

Several of the geometrical patterns included in the Crown have been specially created within Cardiff University.

She said: “My inspiration comes from innovative materials such as graphene and solar panels and I've been experimenting with angles and patterns...”

“It's been great to meet members of staff at the School of Chemistry and the School of Engineering, and especially the Welsh School of Architecture who have provided me with the unique geometries to include in the design of the Crown. My work is always symmetrical and angular and the Crown will reflect this and advances in modern technology.”

Laura Thomas contemporary jeweller

The Crown, which will take three months to make, is expected to be ready at the end of February.

Laura was chosen ahead of several high-quality designers following a competition led by Cardiff University.

Laura manages a contemporary jewellery workshop in Llandeilo, Camarthenshire, and also creates her own jewellery collections and bespoke commissions.

The 2018 National Eisteddfod will be held in Cardiff Bay from 3-11 August.