Monday, 16 August 2010
The WireWorkers Guild
Above: '70's Collectors Piece
An inspiring 1970's bracelet design.
"I was given a few pieces of this
jewellery by a German friend 20 years
ago. I love this style and it's definitely
been an influence in some of my jewellery
A R T I S T
F E A T U R E :
I would like to introduce
you all to one of our newest members,
a jewellery artist and teacher
from Lancashire ...
I'm sure you will enjoy reading
my recent interview with Samantha
and hearing how she began on her creative
WHEN DID YOU START MAKING JEWELLERY?
As a teenager in the 1980's, I loved
unusual dangly earrings and discovering
the bead shop in Covent Garden, ignited
my passion for beads. I bought some beads
but didn't know how to start to turn them
into earrings. In fact, the first pieces
of jewellery I ever made were friendship
bracelets and enamelled pendants in metalwork
classes at school. Then a few years later,
whilst living and working in Germany, I attended
a silversmith weekend course. After learning
about the tools I needed, I began experimenting
with wire and finally was able to create my own
ARE YOU SELF-TAUGHT OR HAVE YOU ATTENDED COURSES
Most of my wirework skills are self-taught from
experimenting - developing designs and just
creating shapes with wire and seeing what they
turn out like. However, I also enjoy being a
student and going on courses to learn about other
types of jewellery making. In the past, I've been
on a day course for bead weaving and jade carving
and have spent 5 years at college doing silversmithing.
The last few months, I have been going to a kiln
fired art group, having 'a go' at ceramic painting
and glass fusing.
(Above: Wire flower shape combined with one
of my handmade glass cabochons)
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Art, design, history ... Ancient civilisations, their
artwork, designs, buildings and beliefs have always
fascinated me. Much of my early twenties was spent
backpacking and hiking - visiting archaeological
museums and ancient sites, from Scandinavia to South
America and more recently the prehistoric sites in
SYMBOLS ... spirals and Celtic designs
NATURE ... shapes of trees, flowers, butterflies, waves.
ART & DESIGN ... '50'S prints, '70's abstract art and jewellery.
... I could go on ...!!
(Above: Visiting Egypt and exploring its temples
and tombs has been something I've wanted to do for
so long. I timed my visit to the tombs in the
'Valley of the Kings' pretty well, in between the
hordes of tour groups and had the place mostly
to myself - really great experience!)
WHAT MADE YOU TEACH? TELL US ABOUT 'BEBEADY'
AND THE CLASSES THAT YOU RUN?
Teaching was something I had thought about for many years
and then, following cancer 9 years ago, was unable to work
for long stretches on the computer. I decided to go for it,
initially teaching design and Photoshop as a part-time
lecturer in Further Education colleges and also at my local
adult education centre. The college knew of my jewellery making
hobby and asked me, if I was interested in teaching it and now
for the past 5 years, I've been teaching jewellery making to
a variety of community groups and also one-day courses at a college
I started BEBEADY jewellery making classes back in 2006 and
mainly teach one or two jewellery making day sessions a month
at local arts/crafts venues. I have developed around 15 different
day courses, these range from beginner to intermediate level,
each having a particular theme such as Tiaras, Charm style
jewellery, Wrapped Loops and beads, Bead Stringing, etc...
and I try to add a few new courses every year.
For more information on all the classes I teach, visit my
DO YOU SELL YOUR JEWELLERY - IF SO, WHERE?
At the moment I sell my jewellery at quite a few craft fairs
across Lancashire, trying out some new ones each year. It's
quite difficult finding good events that are reasonably priced
and not full of bought-in gifts or have too many other jewellery
stalls, but I do enjoy doing them, meeting people and getting
direct feedback on my jewellery designs. I also sell some of
my jewellery in a couple of galleries and exhibitions and I'm
currently working on an online shop:
(Above: Beaded Flower. One of my optional
projects in my Tiara classes is to create
this beaded flower design which was developed
after experimenting with loops)
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE DESIGN?
It varies, but mostly I like making allsorts of shapes with
different types of wire, usually freeform and incorporating
spirals. However, teaching Jig skills classes again recently,
has rekindled my interest in using jigs to make repeat wire
shapes. I have lots of different types of jigs, even some
homemade ones that I created using wood and nails at the
silversmith workshop, as I couldn't make the shape I wanted
with the college's basic jig.
(Above: These earrings include a Celtic wire pattern
created using a Jig)
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ASSOCIATION WITH THE ART & CRAFT GUILD OF
LANCASHIRE AND HOW YOU WERE SELECTED?
A few years ago, I came across the Lancashire Art & Craft
Guild at a craft fair and got chatting to a few of the members.
After applying to join, I was selected to go for an interview
by a panel of guild members and was offered membership. Being
a member has helped me raise my profile and has given me
experience of participating in various exhibitions. Recently,
I was selected and took part in exhibitions at the Arteria Gallery
in Lancaster and the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, which
has led to running jewellery making workshops for them.
(Above: Tiara - One of my favourite classes is to teach
the Tiaras theme class, covering how to make different
types of twisted stems and then use the techniques to
create hairgrips and a tiara)
YOU HAVE A VERY INFORMATIVE WEBSITE - DO YOU PERSONALLY
UPDATE AND MANAGE THIS?
Yes, before I moved into teaching, I worked as an in-house
designer at a football club and part of my job was designing
and managing their websites. There weren't any web design
classes around then, so all my skills are self-taught. Many
of my design skills still come in quite handy, from photographing
my jewellery pieces to creating hand-outs and leaflets.
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT PROMOTING YOUR CLASSES?
Sending out a monthly newsletter, displaying leaflets and
generally chatting about my classes when I do craft fairs,
as well as advertising my classes at the venues that I
teach at. I am always looking at further ways of promoting
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ANYONE THINKING OF BECOMING A
TEACHER AND SETTING UP THEIR OWN JEWELLERY COURSES?
Teaching can be quite daunting at first and if you are going
to teach in colleges, most require some form of teaching
qualification, therefore, I would recommend doing a
teaching course to get a teaching certificate. However, even
more important, is to gain teaching experience: your confidence
grows the more practical teaching work you do. The Certificate
in Education I did at university was really hard work, a very
intensive 9 months and I sometimes wonder how I managed to get
through it! The teaching placements were quite a baptism of
fire ... not much support at all, but good for gaining different
types of teaching experience and I was offered some work at
colleges afterwards. The main problem with college teaching
is all the paperwork, the schemes of work, lesson plans,
learning goals, assessments, individual learner portfolios and
that's the 'pleasure classes'!
Another route, would be to start off small, maybe organise some
jewellery making sessions with friends and family and then,
as your confidence grows, teach other people - such as small
groups in the community. The most important things you need
are: PATIENCE and PASSION!!
(Above: This design is from my new range.
It combines different thicknesses of wire,
freeform squiggle shape, spiral, button and
WHAT ARE YOUR ASPIRATIONS AND GOALS FOR THE FUTURE?
I love being creative and hope to continue developing
my own unique designs, honing my skills and expanding
my knowledge. I get a real buzz when I see people
wearing my jewellery, or even just when my jewellery
designs are admired (am easily pleased!).
I am also passionate about teaching: I get a lot of
pleasure from helping students develop their skills
and designs. But, eventually, I hope to be able to
split my time 50/50, as at the moment the majority
of my time gets taken up with the teaching side of
things, especially doing the college paperwork.
Goals for the future: are to further develop my online
shop and set up a blog. To sell my jewellery through
more galleries and exhibitions and possibly, look into
getting some of my jewellery tutorials published in
Keep abreast of what I'm up to, at:
Thank you, Samantha, for your very interesting and candid
interview, it's an inspiration to us all!