Cardinal Chandelier

Emma Witter
Cardinal Chandelier by artist Emma Witter is part of The New Craftsmen’s ‘Claylarks’ collection. Working predominantly with discarded natural debris to make intricate and contemporary pieces, Emma Witter aims to create new life for the lost. While mudlarking on the foreshore of the River Thames, Emma found an abundance of oyster shells, which she imagined as part of a feast in the Tudor Palace in Greenwich, built 1443. Inspired by lavish banquets of the past, Emma crafted the Cardinal Chandelier to set the scene of a future feast. Although oysters were once a plentiful and affordable substitute to expensive meat, they have now come to signify elegance, taste and wealth. Yet, their shells are thrown away despite their beauty. The shells have been copper plated for this piece, as Emma reflects on the idea of embalming, protecting and preserving. The extraordinary ‘pearl’ details are made from oyster shells that have been fired in a kiln to create ash, which was then cast into pearl-like spheres using crystal resin. This unique decorative piece can hold candles and comes with a chain for hanging.

Candles are not included.

Material: Copper wire, oyster shells, crystal resin, chemical patina
cm: Diameter 43.5cm, Height 49.5cm
inches: Diameter 17.1in, Height 19.5in
Care Instructions: Dust gently


Emma has used various techniques to create the chandelier. She sourced and reclaimed antique metal frames and candle holders to create the base. She elevated these by encasing her ‘found objects’ in copper wire. Inspired by the twisted ropes on the shore of the Thames, she was fascinated by the action of binding as a method of preservation. Emma copper plated the oyster shells with an electroforming technique. This involved painting the candle holders and oyster shells in a conductive metal paint, before proceeding to bind them in a new copper skin through electroforming. She used a chemical patina to bruise and colour the copper on both the main structure and the shells, by either submerging the objects into the solution or painting it on directly. Lastly the ‘pearls’ inside the oyster shells have been made by firing oyster shells in a kiln to create ash. The ash was then mixed with crystal resin to cast them into pearl-like spheres.
The Maker Emma Witter Artist - London

London based Emma Witter utilises intricate bone structures to create fragile, flower-patterned forms. To her, this organic material conveys beauty and spirituality rather than mortality. These opposing facets inspire Witter to bring to the surface the relics of domestic animals. She acts as a bone collector who salvages her medium from restaurants, butchers and her own cooking waste along with combing the river Thames. After earning her diploma in Art and Design, Emma received a first-class honours degree in Performance Design and Practice from Central Saint Martins. On graduating, Emma won the ‘Seed Fund’ Award’ from the University of the Arts London – a grant to set up her own studio practice. At the same time, she was awarded a start-up grant from The Princes Trust Enterprise Programme. After a year of studio practice, she was nominated for the ‘Best New Business Award’ during UAL Enterprise Week 2014, and won. Emma has undertaken residencies at Selfridges & Picton Studios, Sarabande, the Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation, and Mark Hix’s Tramshed Restaurant.