Creativity is a real need. If I do not make work for a while I have to get back to my work bench. Producing pieces that I think work encourages me to move on and to try new things. Selling my work validates it.
I always have a sketch book to hand: particular shapes catch my eye – either in the world at large or at exhibitions, museum visits etc, wherever really, and I record them to see if they translate into forms suitable for an item of jewellery. I research, but I also believe in the importance of ‘play’ so I am always looking at materials and possible combinations of materials and shapes.
Idea lulls are not so much of a problem for me as a jeweller as a lot of my work is a result of a ‘what if’ kind of approach. I look and see what I have got and try to look at things with a fresh eye. I also experiment with new processes and test pieces. If I am working on a commission then the information that my client provides feeds my thought process.
I was quite artistically inclined when I was younger, but it was not until I did a fine art degree as a mature student that I realised that this was what I wanted to do. Then I was a sculptor and installation artist. Jewellery came later – and much smaller!
Being an artist gives me an enormous amount of pleasure (and anguish as well). It enables me to view the world aslant, to question and to see potential in all sorts of unlikely places and objects. I became an artist in my fifties: it is possible to develop one’s creative side at any time of life.
All my work is one off. If a client wants something repeated it will be similar but never exactly the same as the work they have seen. For me the satisfaction is in creating individual pieces. I do accept commissions which can be very rewarding, but they can also be tricky.
My marketing is fairly low key as I only produce a limited amount of work. I do show but much is done by word of mouth and I have regular customers for my work. If money were no object I would use more expensive materials and would probably produce more.
For crafts people I think it is particularly hard because the general public has little appreciation of the time and effort involved in any work, and there is often an expectation that prices will echo those of high street stores. Also there are a lot of other independent jewellers out there so there is a lot of competition.
Environment matters. Being a jeweller I do not need much space, but whenever I start new work I like my space to be tidy and ordered with everything in reach. As I work my bench tends to get cluttered and messy and my actual working space reduces. Clearing it again gives me time to assess what I have done and a new perspective of the work.