Thursday, 7 June 2012

CHRISSIE WEBBER profile

Wire Artist Profile:

CHRISSIE WEBBER


It's always wonderful to discover a talented wire artist and Chrissie Webber, from Newport in South Wales, is just that!  Her journey in setting up her jewellery business reads like fairytale, although raw talent, passion and a determination to follow her heart has led her and continues to help her, achieve success and pursue her dreams!  
(Above: Cultured Pearl and Wirework Tiara)
 
I'm sure you will enjoy and be inspired in finding out more about her in our recent Guild interview ...

Q.  Tell us a little about your background?

From childhood, I have loved making things, so my creative flair has always been there.  Over the years I have had many craft related hobbies such as card making, scrapbooking, crocheting and knitting.  I love singing, cooking, photography and travel.  People - friends and family - are my passion along with designing and making wirework jewellery.

I have a very varied and eclectic working background.  My first career was as a nurse and midwife, which I gave up to travel the world on a merchant navy ship with my husband ... much more exciting!  After having two daughters, I set up a designer knitwear business which I ran for several years.

My life then took a dramatic turn, away from my creative side, as I set up and ran a management training and coaching business.  This fueled my work life for nearly 25 years!  However, this recession has hit hard and as training is the first thing to be axed, life changes happened once again.  Change can be great though, as it can lead you in the most unexpected and exciting directions ...

(Cultured Pearl wrapped in Silver wire)

Q.  What brought you to creating and designing jewellery?

I am blessed with a friend who loves to share experiences.  We buy these instead of presents for each other.  It's great fun and we have tried Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), water colour painting, perfume making and chocolate making ... to name a few.  Almost two years ago, she took me on a one day, basic jewellery making course.  I was hooked!

Not content with bead-
work, I had in my head
some designs using
silver wire. Don't ask
me where they came
from as I didn't even
have a book about it!
So, just 18 months
ago I started to experiment.
In my younger days, I
did a lot of knitting,
sewing and crocheting
which definitely influences
my work.  I also love gemstones, so I began
to incorporate semi-precious stones into my designs.

You have no idea how much I resisted setting up a new business.  I am 60 years old for heaven's sake!  However, they do say that when you're definitely on the right path in life, the most amazing things happen!  This has been my experience.  People would stop me in the street, or in shops and ask me where I bought my jewellery.  Then someone suggested I join the Association for Contemporary Jewellery.  Within a couple of months my work was exhibited in the Cardiff Design Festival and was one of only a few pieces to be sold.

My youngest daughter then decided to get married, so I started to make wedding jewellery.  Shortly after that, I literally bumped into a lady at a networking event and she became my next bridal customer.  At that same event, I won a free marketing consultation.  Following this, and completely out of the blue, I met one of the area managers for a major UK chain of jewellery shops.  His feedback and help was such an inspiration.  What are the odds of all these things happening one after another?!!

(Image: Cultured Pearl and Wirework Tiara)

By this time, I was pretty much convinced that making wirework jewellery was definitely the work I was born to do.  However, I was finding it hard to get contacts to the right clients for my wedding jewellery.  The  brides-to-be were just not responding to my emails.  Why should they?  They were all using Social Media!  Just as I discovered this marketing revelation, I heard about a free, eight week course in Social Media at the University of Glamorgan.  I duly signed up and then on the first evening, discovered I had signed up for a 2 year degree course!!  Having been a complete technophobe, I can't believe how much I love it now and how it is helping my business to grow!


Q.  Do you have any formal training or are you self-taught?

The answer to this question is 'no' -
I am self-taught, except for a
weekend wirework course I went
on recently.  However, I have found
Linda Jones's books an inspiration
along with 'You Tube' videos.  If
you have not watched any, they are
well worth exploring for techniques. 
I learnt how to do some of the
weaving far quicker and easier
than the ways I had worked it
out for myself - what a God send!

(Right image:  Chalcedony Drusy and Ruby Pendant)



Q.  What motivates and inspires your designs?

What motivates me are other people's enjoyment and love of my designs.  The fact that working with wire and gemstones means that many of the pieces I make are totally unique, one off creations, as I do not like always repeating the same designs.

My creativity is inspired by nature, the natural world and the semi-precious stones I use.  So often they just 'sing to me' to be made into a design.  Then I pick up a stone and some wires, with no particular idea in mind and just let the design flow.  As a recovering control freak, I find this most liberating!

Other jewellery also inspires me, not to copy it but to make something different, like this Cultured Seed Pearl Cuff Bracelet (above) that was inspired by a diamond cuff bracelet worn by Gwyneth Paltrow at a recent awards ceremony. Keeping an eye on the trends and what jewellery is being worn by celebrities also inspires me with new ideas and designs.

Q.  Have you got a favourite design and if so, why?

At the moment, my favourite piece is this wire wrapped Malachite Pendant (see right image)It is one of my free flow style designs in Sterling Silver.
I bought this gorgeous piece of Malachite, last year, in India.  It reminds me of the wonderful holiday I had and the fantastic people I met on my journey.  I love to wear it and am in the process of making a pair of large statement earrings to match it.  Very 'on trend' this year!



Q. How to you promote and sell your work?

I sell my work through my online shop:
www.chrissiedesignsjewellery.co.uk
which I promote through Social Media:
MY BLOG
TWITTER
PINTEREST 

I also sell through a number of shops and galleries and will be exhibiting at the end of the year in the prestigious Oriel Ynys Mon Gallery on Anglesey.

Q.  Do you teach your craft?

 (Wire Knots and Crystal Comb)

With a background of almost 25 years as a trainer and coach I found people asking me to teach them basic wirework techniques.  I love to teach and see others tap into their creativity and get such pleasure from it.  Details of my courses this year (held in my studio just 5 minutes over the Seven Bridge in South Wales) can be found at:
http://www.chrissiedesignsjewellery.co.uk/index.php/courses


Q.  Have you any special advice for others staring out in jewellery making?

Here are my TOP TEN TIPS for those starting out in jewellery making ...

1.  Find the style and type of jewellery making that inspires you and makes your heart sing!

2.  Just enjoy!  You don't have to make it into a business to be a success!

3.  Look for and follow opportunities that open up to you to learn and grow.

4.  If setting up a business, do not undersell yourself or your products.  Remember you are definitely worth it!

5.  Find the right market for your work.  Even in a recession there are still people looking to buy something they fall in love with.

6.  Switch off the negativity in your head, that holds you back from your success.  Replace it with a positive determination and 'go for it' attitude!

7.  Try and be original whilst still appealing to your potential customers.  Follow the trends in jewellery each season.

8.  Build great relationships with your customers face to face and online.

9.  If you want a great website and online shop but can't afford to have one built for you, then use Google's web developer.  It is free, extremely easy to use and even has a shop and payment facilities.

10.  Remember to 'GIVE SOMETHING BACK'.  Charities are always looking for products to auction or raffle.  You can also find some who would love you to teach, helping others to find joy in making their own jewellery.

  (Crystal, Quartz and Twisted Silver Pendant)


8.  What are your future dreams and aspirations?

To follow this pathway of amazing circumstances and opportunities, wherever it leads me.  Also, to see people 
getting pleasure out of learning to make their own jewellery 
or wearing my designs.

 
  
 

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing and being so inspirational! I just LOVE your top 10 tips for aspiring jewellers - so true! :D

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