Lisa Cain is an artist working in metals with a background in traditional gold-smithing and has been teaching silver metal clay classes longer than anyone else in the UK.
She began her jewellery path more than 30 years ago at evening classes while a single parent and then went on to study in a traditional apprenticeship with Master Craftsman, Ralph Rowe.
This lasted five years and it was during this time that Ralph encouraged Lisa to teach and she knew she'd found her vocation.
Teaching jewellery making is now her passion and she has helped thousands of students reach their goals in her own school, The Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery (MCSJ).
Lisa says, "When I'm teaching, there is a magic in the air and I know with absolute certainty that I'm doing exactly what I was put on this earth to do.
Above all the accolades you read about below, the core of my life's work is the human connection through inspiration and creativity which mean the most to me. What a joy and a privilege it is to teach as a job!
Luckily my income is generated by teaching, which leaves me free to create my crazy one-off pieces without having to worry about selling them. It’s the best of both worlds."
Aside from teaching and creating, Lisa enjoys archery and spending time with her grandchildren.
Founding Director, Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery
Lisa founded The Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery (MCSJ) in 1995, when there were no other independent jewellery schools in England.
MCSJ has a remarkable history of innovation in the jewellery field with an impressive array of achievements, now spanning over 28 years.
“I established MCSJ because I realised, through my own frustrations, that there was a gap in the market for short courses in jewellery making. Back then if you were a working jeweller who wanted to expand your skills, your options were limited. There were a few evening classes, some longer summer classes or higher education degree-type courses, but nothing short and focussed.
Essentially, I created what I had been looking for: two-day classes in subjects like enamelling, engraving, stone-setting, etc. The timing was right and it was a wild success”, says Lisa.
Within the first two years of starting her business, MCSJ rapidly grew to have the widest range of jewellery related short courses anywhere in the world.
This was largely due to the relationships Lisa forged with other experts in the jewellery world, often when some of them were attending classes at MCSJ.
Lisa says, “I made a point of getting to know my students and quickly realised there was a rich seam of talent coming through the doors. These ‘students’ had a variety of skills in their own specialised fields and lots of them were already teachers.
Luckily, the ones I hand-picked were happy to come to Cornwall and teach their expertise at MCSJ.
My success rests firmly on the fantastic tutors who came and shared their knowledge at my school. Together we built a fantastic skill-base for the jewellery world.”
Many of Lisa’s students went on to establish their own independent jewellery schools.
Now, decades later, there are dozens of schools to choose from all over the UK and Europe.
Championing Ethical Metals Since 2005
MCSJ hosted the inspiring 'Here and Now in the Jewellery World' conference at the Eden Project in 2005.
Lisa invited Jinks McGrath, Tim McCreight and Greg Valerio as speakers.
This was one of the first conferences in the UK to publicly address the issue of sourcing ethical metals.
Lisa says, "I'm proud to be among the early adopters to champion the use of ethically sourced metals wherever possible. Mining is a particularly troublesome industry. The material I use most in my art is Silver Metal Clay, which is made almost entirely from recycled silver. When teaching or helping couples make their own wedding rings, I always try to purchase responsibly produced metals."
Appointed Director of the PMC Guild UK
Whilst also growing her business in Cornwall, Lisa Cain was appointed Director of the UK Precious Metal Clay Guild in 2005.
She ran the organisation for seven years.
During that time she wrote for the PMC Guild's magazine (International and UK editions, organised the UK’s first metal clay conferences, curated several major European exhibitions and co-ordinated the first silver metal clay competitions for the UK.
Joined Advisory Board, Metal Clay Masters Registry
With a growing reputation as a leader in the metal clay world, Lisa was invited onto the Advisory Board for the Metal Clay Masters Registry in 2008.
This professional-level credential consisted of a wide range of challenging projects aimed at elevating the skills of artists using all types of metal clay.
She was part of an international team of artists who helped to devise, shape and test the curriculum of 50 projects.
Saul Bell Design Award Finalist
Lisa's epic two-finger ring, 'The Great Escape' was chosen
as a Saul Bell Design Award finalist in 2010 (see photo).
The ring spans the entire back of the wearer's hand, with the magic carpet appearing to take flight.
Lisa's work is often inspired by folklore, myth and legend.
This ring suggests it has a tale to tell and invites the viewer to imagine taking a magical journey filled with the possibility of making wishes.
Made from Silver, the piece measures 8cm x 5cm across the top.
(Photo by Paul Mounsey)
Study With The Best
Lisa has always made it a point to seek out and study with the greatest jewellers and metal clay artists available at the time,
often travelling across the globe to do so.
Many of these jewellery 'giants' became Lisa's mentors and she has worked alongside them as a teaching assistant in esteemed places such as Haystack, Penland and Arrowmont in America.
MCSJ uses the motto 'Study With The Best', and it's partly because we like to practice what we preach.
As seen on TV
In 2017 Lisa was chosen by the BBC to teach silver clay to six novice students for the Make! Craft Britain TV programme.
Her students were thrilled with their creations and the show was a great success.
The show gets aired again occasionally so check out the i-player webpage here
Kernowcraft's 'Meet the Jeweller' Blog features Lisa Cain
Lisa has strong bonds with Cornish jewellery supply company, Kernowcraft.
They featured an in-depth interview with Lisa on their popular blog.
It's a great feature with lots of photos of Lisa's work. Find out more about how she creates her amazing artworks.
You can read Kernowcraft's 'Meet the Jeweller- Lisa Cain' interview here
To learn more about Lisa, check out her
many Innovations here