We asked Rebecca Handy, a professional jewellery designer based at the Red House Glass Cone, some questions about her experience of working in the jewellery industry, here’s what she said –
How long have you been a jeweller & what made you decide to use the medium you work with?
I have been a professional jewellery designer maker for 7 years. I have collected beads from a young age. Over the years I have developed a taste for opaque materials with texture and pattern. At the start of my career I particularly loved oversized semi precious gemstones. During the 7 years I have developed a style and have fallen in love with copper, silver and polymer clay. I feel it is important to be able to fabricate your own components and these three materials are very versatile.
How did you learn to be a jeweller? Did you take classes?
Do an apprenticeship?
I am a self taught jeweller. Even as a child I was making and creating experimental jewellery! You could say I’ve been in training for the last 20 years! I studied Art and design at college and explored the idea of very large statement pieces of wearable art as well as various projects such creating jewellery with plastics. I also studied textile design which included a lot of background knowledge in construction using metals and plastics and so on. I learnt a huge amount when studying interior design as it gave me a firm knowledge in colour theory and how important the use of texture and pattern is when creating alternative interest.
I love having the chance to play and get really stuck in to a project. As a maker you are very lucky when you do get that block of time to really get stuck in but it’s well worth it when you do! The Dandelion Clock jewellery and Allium jewellery had been an ongoing collection of ideas and experiments for over 18 months prior to the launch of the new designer range.
Have you always aspired to be a jeweller or did you ever dream of following a different path?
When at college and university I aspired to be an interior designer but as time went by I realised that jewellery was the route for me – I do think though that they can all interlink with one another in terms of presentation of work and also pattern design. Some of the work I created in my textile course is very use able within my jewellery as well as I created textile prints and this is something that I am going to explore in the future.
From your experience in jewellery what advice could you offer people
looking to get to where you are today?
Experiment with as many techniques and styles as possible at first and find your niche. It is very important to have your own style and that’s something that can’t be rushed. When you feel that you are getting somewhere get as much feed back as possible and keep going! Don’t try to copy or compete with the high street as you’ll never win that battle – the point is that you are unique and so is your work. Don’t fall into the trap of following trends just make pieces that make you happy.
From your experience so far, what have you found to be most
challenging? And how are you dealing with it?
Ideally I need 3 of me or several extra hands! I have so many ideas constantly that it is impossible to even address 80% of them which can be extremely frustrating! I’m not very good at ‘turning off’ so I am often awake late at night thinking of the ‘to dos’ and even when on holiday -everything I look at has potential. I think running a business in general is extremely hard work and possibly under estimated. Often the majority of my week is doing all business related tasks and not the fun creative part that people might imagine. I am a one man band and so every part of my business is done by me including photography, web design, marketing, bookkeeping…oh and designing and making of course! My way of dealing with this is extensive lists for every day of the week – I’m a great list maker!
Do you have a favourite piece and can we see a picture please?
It’s quite difficult to pick a favourite as my style has changed some what over the years. I’d have to pick my copper dandelion clock pendant as so much hard work went into the design and I think it sums me up to a t! I love nature themed lino prints and this is my interpretation of that. My other favourite would have to be a necklace named Exhibit
which as you can see is really quite different to the work I do now. The necklace was quite a statement piece and many of the beads were hand made by self using polymer clay and fabric. It was the first piece by my self to be published and it was also the piece that I was awarded finalist for jewellery maker of the year back in 2009 for. This necklace is also the reason why I now have the privilege of being a writer and designer for at Beads and Beyond magazine. You can’t get better than that!
I plan to create Dandelion clocks in 9ct gold which I am so excited about. Working with gold is a new step for me. I have also started to add gold accents within the Allium range which will be complete at the start of 2015.
A major project for the new year is creating a new range based on ‘the coast’ and including work influenced by ‘water’ which will look back to older textile prints I did several years ago.
Share with us your proudest moment in your career so far?……….
In 2009 I was shortlisted for jeweller maker of the year in the stringing category and shortly after was invited to design a feature for Beads and Beyond magazine. The editor was impressed with my work and I have now been regularly published in the magazine for 5 years. I was also shortlisted for jewellery maker of the year 2010 and awarded 3rd prize for jewellery maker of the year 2012.
Are you looking forward to the International Festival of Glass being held in Wordsley this spring? Do you have any involvement?
Although I have no direst involvement I do look forward to the International Festival of Glass, there is always a buzz of excitement around the Red House Glass Cone and Ruskin Centre while it’s on. We get visitors from all over the world and get to see some amazing glass art.
My studio will be open throughout the festival. I will be offering brand new collections and One Of A Kind pieces of jewellery throughout the event as well as event offers to boot.