About

I started training as a painter and printmaker. My illustrative and painterly style comes through in the design of my rings. My artwork is inspired by history, myths and biology - I have always been obsessed with creatures and their creations.

I thought I was heading for a career in computer game design, but when I saw an advert for an engraving apprenticeship in Hatton Garden, the historic jewellery district in London, I applied, thinking it would be a good way for me to continue my passion for illustration.

I began my training with a traditional apprenticeship with the Goldsmiths' Company, and studied with one of the largest engraving firms RH Wilkins. I started at the bottom, and it was there that I learned to keep the tools sharp, clean the workshop, polish, file and engrave. Just the way they held the tools took me three months to learn. I now make my own tools as it’s such a small industry you either need to have them handed down to you, or make them yourself. 

The technique I use, 'seal engraving' goes back to ancient times. A seal is always engraved in reverse and is much deeper than traditional two dimensional hand engraving with a third or fourth dimension added which is deeper and finer and takes much more time to achieve. Traditionally the signet ring would bear the family crest and the ring would be stamped onto hot wax to seal important documents, with the Intaglio engraving acting as a signature, and the engraved image or crest reproduced in the wax as a 3D relief. Now, I use my knowledge of engraving to create contemporary pieces and to experiment with European and Japanese engraving techniques, producing a cross fertilisation of styles and processes.

My style developed when I was rushing for an important deadline early in my career. I made a couple of slips with my tool and had no time to restart. So, I engraved around the whole piece with seal engravings, which people wouldn’t do traditionally, because you can’t stamp using the sides of the ring. So, purely by accident, my aesthetic evolved from a slip.

In 2017 I was awarded the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust scholarship, and I travelled to Japan to study with Japanese masters under the guidance of Hiroshi Suzuki - spending many months in the workshop of master metal worker Kenji Io as well as his son Koichi, and his son's wife Mariko Sumioka spending time with Kashima Kazuo, and National Living Treasure, Mamoru Nakagawa. In Japan I trained in Japanese metal working, engraving and patination.

Originally from the North East of England, I now live and work in East London. My studio is currently based at the Sarabande Foundation which was established by Alexander McQueen. I sell my pieces through Dover Street Market, as well as working on a bespoke commission basis.

Please email kobayashi@castrosmith.com with any enquiries.

Awards won:

Apprentice of the Year 2017 - awarded at St James’ Palace

Craft and Design Gold Award

Goldsmiths Special Council

Award Podolsky Award

Cheltenham Illustration Award

Theo Fennel Award