Friday, 22 March 2013

Inspired by Olivia Wotton!

We know how great it can be to hear advice from fellow jewellery designers, so we decided to ask one of our lovely customers Olivia Wotton a few questions about her jewellery making experiences, her top tips, favourite products and her inspiration!

How did you get into making jewellery?
I started when I was 12, my mum would buy my sis & I plastic beads & I would mix them with shells I'd found, we would 'borrow' my dads pliers & soldering wire (much to his annoyance!) & sit in front of the fire making jewellery, I however never grew out of it! I decided at 16 I wanted to do 'something' creative so did a two year B-Tec National Diploma in Art & Design at the South Devon College of Art & Design, specialising in jewellery in my final year, I then did a three year BA (Hons) 3D Design in Metal & Jewellery Degree at The Surrey Institute of Art & Design. I haven't looked back since..mainly as I have some outstanding library books! ;)

Describe your workspace: One word; Matchbox! My workshop is in a 5 foot by 6 foot 'room', unfortunately our airing cupboard is also in that 'room'..taking up nearly half of space! There's just enough room for my beautiful bench where I beaver away making what I call my 'dirty work', all Silver & Gold work, filing, hammering, drilling, polishing etc. My 'clean work' i.e all beading & stringing etc is done in the corner of our lounge, not much room either but at least I have a sea view from here!

What inspires you? 

My main inspiration comes from the sea, beach & countryside around my home in South Devon. I finds inspiration from many thing such as the age lines in a piece of wood or tangled fishing tackle disregarded on a beach. I can't leave the house without getting inspired by something! When we go for walks I always come home with beach treasure or a twig that has inspire me. It's pretty much always natural stuff, shapes, textures, colours, & of course actual shells & other natural objects that I have cast in solid Silver or 9ct Gold to use within my jewellery, I love that they are 'living on' in my work.

What are your top 5 tools and why are they so good? 

1; Dremel Stylus, it's such a good small hand tool, cordless too & great for so many jobs, I would be lost without it! 

2; Barrel polish, he's seen better days & now my work spins round in a jam jar but he still works! Great tool for polishing Silver & Gold, takes hours off making time. 

3; Very old (I've had it since collage!) economy half roundhand file, I hardly use the hundreds of others I have as this one practically does it all!

4; Ottlite light, give's a 'natural light' so perfect for fine beading & stringing work, also works really well for photographing work too, love it.

5; Jump ring maker, quite a new addition to my tools & wish I'd bought one years ago! perfect if you use a lot of jump rings!

What’s your favorite gemstone and why? 

Ooo tough one! I'm a fan of Rose Quartz for the properties it has & always include a little Rose Quartz bead hanging from the back of my necklaces. Tourmaline, Emerald & Jade have to be my personal favorites though, you can get a fantastic rainbow of colours with them & I think they look stunning teamed with my Silver & Gold work.

What advice would you offer beginners wanted to start making their own jewellery? 

There's so much to help & teach people now, I would definitely say use You Tube to watch some of the thousands of jewellery making videos, they can give you some great tips & help if your unsure how to do something. Also subscribing to one of the jewellery making magazines is a good way to try doing different things as they have projects etc each month. I have to say I taught myself a lot from trial & error!! It can be painful (literally!) & expensive but it has led me to make & design in a way I may not have had I followed steps etc. 

What jewellery making technique do you use most often? 

I hammer & 'pattern' my Silver & Gold with different textured hammers. I like the 'handmade' look it gives my work & think it makes the metal look more organic, which due to where most of my inspiration comes from it isn't surprising I opt for this look for my work over other finishes.

Tell us about your shop/website/ or how you sell your creations: 

I sell on line through my own website & through Folksy too, I also use my business Facebook page & Twitter to promote my business. Other than that I sell in 8 lovely local galleries & shops, I also take part in a few select fairs & exhibitions each year.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start selling their own creations? 

I used to just make my jewellery & post it off to galleries in some city somewhere, & at the end of the exhibition receive a cheque back, or just my jewellery! It was so hard to gauge who was buying my work & what people thought of it. So, when I moved back to Devon 7 years ago I started selling from little local fairs & it was a real eye opener!! It is a great way to meet your customers & also a brilliant way to build your confidence in selling, that was the hard thing for me to begin with & it took years for me to be able to say 'this is beautiful & worth every penny!!' I would also say selling items on Folksy etc is also a great way to get on line sales without the cost & work of setting up your own website to begin with but would always suggest selling face to face as well.

Which other jewellery maker or designer do you admire? And why?

I've admired Malcolm Morris jewellery for years & if I wasn't a jeweller myself (I only wear my own work!) I would love a piece of his apple blossom range, his work is very organic & inspired by the natural world, much like mine. Philippa Hollands is someone I have recently found out about, she makes some super pretty bug, butterfly & plant jewellery that resonates with me, she say's she feels like she is wearing the woods when she wears her sycamore pod necklace...which is exactly how I feel/hope people feel when wearing my work, like you've got a little bit of nature with you.  

Why do you love Kernowcraft? 

I love Kernowcraft partly as it's a Cornish business & being a Devon girl I am slightly bias towards anything Devonian or Cornish! ;) & partly for a whole host of other reasons, their website is brilliant, very easy to use & the images are great. Their delivery charges are extremely reasonable & their delivery time is blooming brilliant! Kernowcraft is always my first port of call if I'm looking for a semi-precious stone I don't normally use, their beads & stones are of a great standard & they stock some beautiful semi-precious stones. They are also a very helpful & friendly company which is invaluable for repeat business.  

What item is on your Kernowcraft ‘wish list’? 

Ooo lots! But the Kitiki Magnetic Polisher Kit is top of the list!

Visit Olivia's website

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