Thursday, 13 June 2013

A wee catch up

I realise I have been quite quiet recently, so I thought I would write an update with what is going on at Ruth Gordon Jewellery at the moment.
I am currently preparing for 'Crafted', a craft fair organised by Creative Hinckley. I haven't taken part in a craft event for years due to the demands that the 'day job' previously made on my time, so I'm really looking forward to it. It's really great to speak to the public about your work and meet other makers. I'm looking forward to setting up shop on my 6 foot table!

Over the past few months I have been working on some pieces that have no colour in them at all, which is a great departure for me. I have always worked with colour in my jewellery, whether it be enamel, cold enamel, acrylic or nylon so it feels strange to see plain silver pieces in my range. The work does have texture and many of the pieces use the familiar dome shape from my cluster range, so it's not a complete u-turn in design!

I will have some work in the Focus Gallery's next exhibition, starting on 22nd June. The idea of the exhibition is to showcase some of the best work in the East Midlands and I'm honoured to be included.

Ruth Gordon Jewellery has a new stockist this summer. New Brewery Arts in Cirencester will be stocking a collection of Ruth Gordon Jewellery in their craft shop. The arts centre has a gallery, craft shop, cafe and theatre and they also offer craft courses and have on-site craftspeople working in media such as ceramics and stained glass.

Throughout June, I am celebrating summer by offering 10% off anything in my Etsy Shop! Have a browse and use code JUNE2013 at the checkout.

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.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Young British Jewellers

I recently joined the Young British Jewellers website which is an 'online community' of some of the best jewellery talent in the UK today. When you join Young British Jewellers you get a profile page that you can personalise and an image gallery, as well as a messaging service to communicate with the other member jewellers.

The website has a detailed events calendar and a blog which is full of news and promises to showcase 'jewellers studios, interviews, exhibition reviews and of course plenty of photos'.

Vega, Christopher and Lucie run the website and are active on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, which is great to see as well as being extremely helpful if you have any questions.

The 'young' does not refer the age of the jeweller, it instead draws reference to the innovation in the techniques and materials used by the jewellers, creating a wide range of different jewellery styles to browse on the website.

The standard of the jewellery is very high and and there are some great jewellers on the website that I might not have discovered if I hadn't joined.

A few of my favourites are - 

Hannah-May Chapman who has the fabulous Cell Collection, inspired by cells under the microscope. It combines resin, plastics, synthetic fur, base metal and silver to create fun, playful pieces. Hannah states she is a process driven designer, inspired by the natural and surreal world around her. Her work looks so tactile and combines beautiful colours with a range of fun materials.

Acrospheara Brooch by Hannah-May Chapman

Catinulus Cufflinks by Hannah-May Chapman

Catinulus Studs by Hannah-May Chapman

Wing Hang Chan (Kody) makes jewellery inspired by the Birmingham skyline and the colours of the sky. Combining brass and felt with techniques such as powder coating, plating, felting, laser welding and riveting, Kody makes wonderfully tactile and striking pieces of jewellery. Born in Hong Kong, Kody will be graduating from the School of Jewellery, Birmingham this year - one to watch out for!

Silver linings collection by Wing Hang Chan

Lana Crabb works in the most vibrant colours, which I think is great! Working in unusual non-precious materials such as rubber bands, paint, thread, balloons and broken gems, Lana creates small but wearable art pieces that create a statement. I really liked this statement by Lana, 'I aim to create preciousness aesthetically rather than traditionally with gold or gems'.

Small Squiggle Brooch by Lana Crabb

Yellow Tank Studs by Lana Crabb

Pink Peek-a-boo Gem Studs by Lana Crabb

Amanda Trimmer is inspired by comic books and superheroes. Laser cut paper and powder coated metal create brightly coloured and funky pieces that are intricate and beautiful. Amanda says that she used her own imagination when growing up to adapt to the new cultures she faced due to travelling a lot and this shows in her work.

Secret Superhero by Amanda Trimmer

Obscura by Amanda Trimmer

Amy Logan creates jewellery inspired by the fluid lines found in drawings and landscapes. Forming and hammering then powder coating and plating the metal gives Amy a wonderful fluidity to her pieces, which are strikingly elegant.

Gold Wire Earrings by Amy Logan

Grey Powder Coated Chain by Amy Logan

Pink Pendant with Black Chain by Amy Logan

There are many more talented jewellers who have work on the Young British Jewellers website, I think at last count there were 154, but I couldn't write about all of them! 

I have realised that I have been drawn towards and therefore written about four jewellers who all work in mixed media and bright colours. This was not intentional but I think it says quite a lot about me and my jewellery tastes.

Thanks to all the jewellers who allowed me to use their work in this blog post. It's been great fun looking at all the lovely pieces that these talented ladies make. Also thanks to the Young British Jewellers team for creating this wonderful tool and for promoting jewellery design on their website.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

New Etsy shop

I have always heard good things about Etsy, the way that sellers can interact and the way the shops are to set up so I thought I would give it a go. I set up my Etsy store a couple of weeks ago and started exploring.

I have found some beautiful products on Etsy that I have 'favourited' and starting following some sellers whose work I admire. I have also created four Etsy treasuries which are themed collections of products that people curate and share. I have stuck to a colour theme so far, creating treasuries themed in red, yellow, green and blue

I do feel I need some slightly more creative photography for my Etsy shop to stand out a bit more but I haven't quite decided what that will be like yet.

If you have any ideas on photography or tips on selling on Etsy please let me know.

Also let me know what your shop name is and I'll  check it out.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Coventry Cathedral

Last year I visited Coventry Cathedral with my parents and husband. I had no idea what to expect and didn't really know why my parents had suggested we go and visit it. They had travelled down from Scotland and we could have gone anywhere so why Coventry?

From the outside the cathedral looks quite interesting with old bits, new bits and stained glass windows which are usually my favourite bit about churches and cathedrals. 

Downstairs there is an exhibition and a very chatty and helpful man told us lots of information about the cathedral.

I was anxious to get upstairs to the main part of the building though to see what all the fuss was about.

One of the first things you see is a 72 foot high wall hanging by Graham Sutherland. It dominates the back wall of the building. It is tremendous.

You then walk into the Chapel of Christ in Gethsemane where you can see this beautiful shiny mosaic surrounded by irons thorns. There are some amazing tapestry cushions in this chapel, and indeed, scattered around the rest of the church.

The cathedral was designed by Basil Spence, who won a competition with over two hundred entrants to have his work chosen.

The Nave windows are simply stunning. On opposite sides of the building the pairs of windows represent growth from birth to old age with one side representing human and the other side the Divine.

No photo can show the beauty of this wonderful nave or just how impressive these windows are.

One of my favourite parts of the cathedral was the bowed baptistery window which consists of 195 panes in a range of colours.

Each pane is beautifully designed and constructed and it was hard not to take pictures of every one within range.

The Great West Window boosts the Screen of Saints and Angels, images are engraved onto the screen which is supported by a bronze framework hung by wires from the roof.

 As you can see, the old cathedral is visible through the massive transparent wall. This was an important part of Basil Spence's design and reportedly his first 'vision'. He wanted to link the old and the new cathedrals. Spence was adamant that the new cathedral should be built on a different piece of land to the old one in order to preserve the ruins.

Around and about the cathedral......

I would highly recommend a visit to Coventry Cathedral to everyone as it is a beautifully designed combination of the old and the new. My photos do not do it justice at all.

I love churches and cathedrals and have been to many but I have to say this is one of the best I have had the pleasure of visiting.