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.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Working Practice

Since I quit my full-time job and moved to Leicestershire, I have changed the whole way I run my business.
After graduating in 2004 I tried to run my business, work full-time, have a social life, maintain relationships, visit family, keep my house clean, look after my pet and generally live my life but it all became a bit too much to handle. It shouldn't have been, but for me it was my business that took the hit. I wasn't keeping up to date with paperwork, staying in touch with my stockists, deadlines weren't met and going to the studio on my days off from my job didn't really seem enjoyable any more. When did my passion and what I trained in become a forgotten hobby?

When I got the opportunity to move in with family in Leicester as my husband re-trained as a carpenter, I jumped at the chance. I said goodbye to my friends and family and quit my job at Dunelm Mill in Dundee and moved 400 miles away to a place where I knew no-one outside the walls of my house.

We set up my workshop in the garage over Christmas 2011 and I started to work out where I was up to in terms of my business.

It has taken me a while to get organised and have my working week planned out but I am finally there. I have taken my lead from Angie Boothroyd's book, 'Setting Up a Successful Jewellery Business' and have started using Gantt planners to map out my week, month and year. I still get distracted by certain things but I'm learning to switch off computer programs I don't need open, shut the door to the workshop/office and not switch off my business brain when my other half comes home at 3pm.

I recently did a series of blog posts looking at my work and working out what I liked and didn't and more importantly what my customers liked and didn't like. I learnt a lot from this and will therefore be launching some new pieces very soon.

Planning my time has meant I now get more done in the time I have. Although I no longer have a job other than running my own business, I do go to Leicester College one day a week to do an accounting course, which I hope will be useful to my business and to my husband's future business. I have worked out that If I get my course work and private study out of the way on a Monday morning I have three and a half days to run my business.

Planning my week has been a learning curve. March is definitely not a carbon copy of February, for example. As well as having different commissions and exhibitions to prepare for, I have found that some tasks that I allocated to certain days don't take as long as I have allocated them or they work better on a different day.

I also have to factor in time to organise the regional group of the Association for Contemporary Jewellery that I set up (ACJ East Midlands). This doesn't take masses of time but does require me to organise meetings and last year we decided that we'd organise an exhibition that opened a week after my wedding day(!). 

I am more productive now than I was this time last year and this helps me to get what I want from my business. I feel tired after my day at work and I feel like a business owner. It's only taken nine years!

I will be writing some blog posts about how I manage my paperwork, mistakes I have learnt from and a day in the life of a jeweller very soon, so keep an eye out for those.   

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Creative Coffee

Last week I went to my first ever Creative Coffee Leicester at Phoenix Square in the centre of Leicester. This informal and relaxed event offers regular networking for creative people in the area. 

I had been meaning to go to one of these meetings for a while now but something always came up or it slipped my mind. However when I heard that Julia Hamer from Makers' Yard was going to do a talk about the building they have acquired for studio spaces in Leicester city centre, I felt I had to go. I had looked at their website and had seen some photos of Ruth Singer's studio space via Twitter so I was really interested to see what Julia had to say about it.

I also haven't met many 'creatives' in Leicester, apart from the jewellers that I have met through the ACJ (Association for Contemporary Jewellery), so I thought it'd be nice to met some new creative people.

I went along at 10am, more than ready for a cup of coffee, and sat with a very friendly man named Paul Burton from twf Design and Marketing Solutions. We discussed our work and what we wanted from the event. Paul showed me some of the 3D imaging he had been working on including some for a jewellery designer! We then mingled and spoke to some other creative people including Nicki Merrall, a knitwear designer and tutor. We found we had both worked with similar materials - nylon and polyester threads. Nicki had knitted with polyester threads and I use nylon thread in my work now. I also met the owner of Handmade by Hema who makes beautiful knitwear. It was great to speak to another first timer at the event and discuss our work, how we do our marketing and where we sell our work. You can buy Handmade by Hema knitwear on Etsy.

Julia Hamer spoke about Makers' Yard, which is a really interesting building with big studio spaces rented by a wide range of artists, designers and craftspeople. There are woodworkers, painters, glassmakers, paperworkers, textile artists, photographers and ceramicists to name a few. In previous years the building was know as the Charnwood Hosiery Factory where socks for football clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool and Leicester City were made. Lydia Marshall, 94, who used to work at the factory was invited to the opening of Makers' Yard. She says, "we even made a pair for Terry Wogan!"

Julia asked for some ideas on how Makers' Yard could make the building more appealing to the general public. Some ideas were thrown around the room, with several people coming up with excellent and inspiring suggestions, which snowballed as others contributed.

I really enjoyed hearing everyone's ideas and how they evolved as the group discussed them. In my eyes this is what Creative Coffee is all about - networking, finding new sources of inspiration and collaborating with other creative people.

I will definitely go back to Creative Coffee and I am glad to say that I have kept in touch with several of the people I met there.