Thursday, 16 May 2013

Make - a meeting

One rainy Thursday evening I showed up at Ruth Singer's studio, which was packed with creative people from Leicestershire. This was the evening that 'Make - a meeting', organised by Creative Leicestershire was taking place. Ruth's studio is amazing and throughout the evening I found myself getting distracted by all the bits and pieces she has scattered about her wonderfully bright and colourful creative space. 
I met lots of people that I have been connected with on Twitter for some time and even made a few Association for Contemporary Jewellery connections. I also was asked to do a little bit of a talk on ACJ which I nervously fumbled through (I'm not a public speaker and the word 'um' seemed to crop up a lot!).

We all made paper name badges and heard some information about Creative Leicestershire, Makers Yard and Ruth Singer before getting down to brainstorming ideas for Creative Leicestershire and having a chat with other makers.

We also got the opportunity to go to the large studio upstairs, which was full of rubber matting and shotgun shells! 'Love Bullets' are a jewellery company who are building the walls for a nightclub at Glastonbury Festival using the rubber matting and 1 million bullets. I wish I had taken my camera to the event as what 'Love Bullets' are doing is amazing, it really was beautiful!

After a bit more networking and eating cake the evening wound up and we all disappeared back into the rain.

I thought the evening was great and would love to go to another one. 

My only regret was that I didn't get to meet everyone I would have liked to. Time just ran away with me.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Creativity - making things

I have always loved to make things and being creative, my mum still has the jewellery box I made by painting a Maltesers box, throwing glitter on it and sticking a sponge inside it.

I think it's important to feed your creativity constantly. I am always making something outside of my jewellery whether it be something knitted, sewn, drawn or baked. I keep up to date with artists, designers and crafters in all fields and I am very keen on learning new skills. I am currently trying to learn to crochet.

I think if you are creative outside of your working practice it flows back into your work and your creativity stays fresh, so your designs are better and your collections can move forward.

I grew up in quite an artistic household. My parents are both keen on photography and my mum has a City and Guilds qualification in Textile Art. I remember not being able to eat our tea at the table because Mum had her embroidery work all over the kitchen table. Interesting things happened in our house, Mum had water soluble fabric, air soluble pens, fabric paints and metallic thread! 

When I was little, Mum, Dad and myself used to sit on the links at Birsay, Orkney and each paint our version of the Brough of Birsay.

I was also reminded recently by my dad of a 'guidebook' I started to make during one holiday to Orkney.

For my wedding last year I decided it would be nice to make lots of the elements we would use, from the invitation to the decorations. With a lot of help I made nearly a hundred pinwheels which were used as cup cake toppers and buttonholes, hundreds of paper pom-poms, all the invitations, place settings, table names, the wedding rings and my wedding jewellery.

Making all these beautiful things with the help of our friends and family made our special day all the more special. To me everything looked pretty much perfect and I was proud of what I and my friends and family had achieved.

I was recently reminded just how much I love making 'things' whilst making my mum's Mother's Day card and a birthday card for my new sister-in-law. I have countless boxes of crafting and art supplies which I periodically dig out and mess about with.

I also recently finished knitting a cowl style scarf which I am over the moon about. I couldn't follow the pattern (but neither could mum - a seasoned knitter!) so made it up as I went along! I also knitted some ear warmer head bands last year.

For several years I taught evening classes in jewellery and felting. This was great in keeping my creativity fresh. Jewellery assembled from safety pins, buttons, Fimo, chain mail and felt beads that we made were popular classes to teach. The felting classes where we made purses, bags, needle-felted objects and bowls were great fun too. I found myself being inspired by the objects of craft made by the class. My students would use different colours together that I wouldn't have thought of or they would try to make something in a different way. It was great, I miss teaching and would like to do more of it.

Shrink plastic ring
Felted purse
Chain mail bracelet
Felted bracelet

I think making things other than your particular craft is very liberating and helps with the creative flow. Let me know what extra crafts you do and if you think they help you in your day to day work.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Paperwork. Behind the scenes of a creative mind.

No one likes doing paperwork. Especially not creative people. It is time away from making and designing but it is necessary.

Inventory, stock lists, CV's, artist's statements, terms and conditions, invoices, contracts and order forms are all important parts of running a small business and when you are a sole trader it falls to you to handle all paperwork yourself.

My paperwork skills are quite good, perhaps a little too good. I am very meticulous but this can often get in the way of a streamlined paperwork system! For my inventory I currently have a word document, an excel document, a book where I keep hard copies and a folder for each stockist where I also keep hard copies, which all need updated every time I send work to a stockist. This is paper and labour intensive!


It is a bit strange that someone who worked in inventory for her day job for so long has such an archaic inventory system but it does work for me!

My main struggle with my paperwork is that all my stockists carry out their paperwork differently. Some ask you to invoice them, others don't, some pay after one month, others after two, some even pay at the end of the exhibition period. Also, every gallery's codes work differently. Sometimes they'll inform me that a piece has sold but they only have it listed in their codes, so I have no idea what has and hasn't sold until the unsold work is delivered back to me at the end of the exhibition period. This has caused many a mix up in the past but I haven't quite worked out a way to rectify it yet. It's something to work on at least!

Last year I bought Angie Boothroyd's book Setting Up a Successful Jewellery Business (see The Design Trust's review of the book here). It may seem an odd read for someone who has been in business for 9 years but this book is great for new starts as well as people who have been in business for years like myself. There is always something you won't have thought of or a better way to do something, so I never write off set up guides or any kind of business advice.

Recently I have been trying to update my CV and artist's statement but I have been really struggling due to not being able to 'step back' from them. I was offered some help via LinkedIn by Stephanie Webster and I am so grateful to Stephanie for all her ongoing help. It really makes a difference when someone else looks at what you are working on with fresh eyes.

I have also found some great blog posts by illustrator Sue Bulmer that have helped me to work out better ways to do my paperwork, as well as the things I need to put in my terms and conditions and contracts.

It may not be a subject that brings a smile to our faces but it's definitely one that's worth discussing with fellow crafters. If anyone has any tips on how they handle their paperwork please let me know.