It has been Degree Show season and Scott and I managed to make it to Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow’s Degree Shows. I’ve taken some time to feature just a handful of my favourites. The standard this year was very high and we thoroughly enjoyed them all. If you missed them, take a look and see what I thought. Kate xRead More
On Tuesday I attended one of Scotland's Policy Conference which was focussing on the next steps for the Creative Industries. While the day was heavily influenced by film and media something struck a chord.
Skills gaps are becoming more and more apparent in todays youngest creatives. The industry expects you to be jack of all trades, master of none. A thread that was recognised at the conference thanks to Inker of 2014 Kirsty Stewart's talk. She spoke eloquently about her journey from education to now;
"It wasn't until I joined Vanilla Ink that I found my confidence"
As some of you may be aware, Vanilla Ink is conducting a survey into the Jewellery and Silversmithing industry and asking what are the needs of you and I and goldsmiths' at any stage of their career.
The results have been incredibly powerful and the need for more skills is overwhelming. I believe that we never stop learning but if you don't know where to look or lack the confidence to ask how will the industry grow and strengthen. The results are shaping the future of Vanilla Ink and we want to respond to what it is the industry needs.
We are going to share with you the results, but first we need more participants. After hearing Fiona Hyslop open the conference on Tuesday and her recognising the importance of the creative industries in Scotland, I feel it's incredibly important that we put the results in front of her. I want to take this to government and let them recognise there is a desire to do better, to work hard and make a successful career out of industry so many people are passionate about.
So please help us share the survey as far and wide as possible so we have a true reflection of all you fantastic Jewellers, Silversmiths', Goldsmiths' out there and lets make an impact!
It was a grey and drizzly Glasgow but on Sunday I travelled to the beautiful Briggait set along the Clyde, an old fish market, the Briggait, set with all it's splendour, played host to The Glasgow Wedding Collective.
A carefully curated wedding show for the unique bride who want to support independent designers and businesses. And boy do they know their stuff! Not being engaged, with any hopes of being married any time soon, I was interested in the jewellers they had to show, although my eyes did wander to the vintage wedding dresses and shoes and the stunning floral displays, but I was mainly there for the jewellers.
Alumni Inker, Scarlett Erskine was showing her wears, a collection of jewellers for brides to be, bridesmaids, mother of the brides and of course the gents. I loved Scarlett's use of champagne corks in order to display some of her unique engagement rings.
Ebba Goring returns to her first show since having her baby daughter and she returns with new textures, new designs ideas and new additions to her collection. Aiming for the fine jewellery market, Ebba's work will lend itselft beautifully to gold and diamonds.
Katie Lees is definitely for the edgy bride. Currently working on her new collection she offered up some sneak peeks along with the firm favourites. The cufflinks were a personal favourite for the clean cut, styled groom.
Sarah Brown entices you in with her carefully displayed jewellery adding an earthly beauty to her display with her use of bell jars, ferns and wood. Sarah thinks of every aspect of her her service from the jewellery to the box.
Finally Alison Macleod with her vintage chic jewellery for the classic bride. Playing homage to the classic beauty with the addition of a splash of colour, texture and beads to stir up elegance and sophistication. Her addition of vintage boxes is lovely gesture to complete the service.
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN AND HAVE YOU ALWAYS HAD THIS STYLE?
I didn’t always work like this, it all came about in the past five years after working for a company based in London, Erickson Beamon. I was there working on their diamond range, very over the top pieces. I was in amongst it, you had people from vogue coming to collect things, celebrity clients, it was an intense time. They are one of the top costume jewellery brands in the world.
Prior to that I studied at Central Saint Martins after Ayr college in Scotland, there I played with materials like porcelain, aluminium but colour was always important to me. I enjoyed experimenting and learning my craft. I have always been attracted to the fashion side of the jewellery world, I love designing for brands and the runway. But my love for, dare I say it, ‘costume’ jewellery came from Beamon.
HOW WOULD DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE THEN AND NOW?
My college work was completely different. I’m not sure if I was to exhibit it all in one room I would be able to recognise it. However, the idea for Lucky Bitches came about while I was at Art School, all be it in different materials, a porcelain ball spinning on an aluminium shank, but everyone loved it at college, it was a design I had to revisit and bring it up to date.
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO SET UP ON YOUR OWN?
After the financial crash in 2008 I was made redundant at Erickson Beamon, I started working immediately on my own brand. It was a whirlwind experience and I learned so much there. Losing my job was a blessing in disguise, it kick started me into setting up on my own and I wouldn’t be where I am now without that. I worked for many years freelancing for others and now I work on my own designs and have full creative control.
It was daunting time, I had to move back with my parents in Troon and I began making Bridal Jewellery as I didn’t know what else to do, I had never made costume jewellery before. So I had to re-think things, I started talking to people, going back to classes and learning again.
At that time, people weren’t buying precious jewellery, I knew my market would be in costume jewellery, I saw a path and I took it.
FASHION OR CRAFT?
I dabble with both, I really enjoy the bespoke, it is important for the business and it keeps me interested. I try not to define myself; I still want people to treasure everything I make.
DO YOU THINK PEOPLE CAN CHERISH A PIECE OF COSTUME JEWELLERY AS MUCH AS PRECIOUS JEWELLERY?
Yes and no, fashion pieces have become more collectable in recent years but in terms of value and materials, it’s a different market.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO SUPPORT SCOTLAND AND YOUR HOMETOWN?
I have a lot of people in Troon that support me and it’s important for me to recognise where it all began, it keeps me grounded. I have stocked a shop there, The Herbary since I began and they continue to champion me, which is humbling. Scotland doesn’t allow you to get above your station, which I am grateful for. I have always loved Glasgow (minus the weather), it’s a gritty city and it’s really creative. Quality of life is really important to me, I can live the city life but I can hop on a train and be in Loch Lomond within 20 minutes.
FASHION, DESIGN, COLLABORATIONS, PHOTO SHOOTS, CATWALKS...WHAT'S THE MOST EXCITING PART?
Scotland Re:Designed show, last year, there was such a buzz and the adrenaline behind the scenes was great. When the last look came out (a jet crystal mask and harness), I could hear the audience’s reaction - sometimes you spend days making something that are seen for 10 seconds. Often your jewellery goes out into the world but right there I got to see an immediate reaction.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?
I love creating a brand and building the excitement. The market is constantly changing and you always have to keep people engaged, I revel in the challenge of that. As a jeweller, I think we constantly need to keep people interested or we can become stagnant. It’s a time consuming part of the business but I really enjoy it.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE YOU'VE DESIGNED?
The Octopus Ring; the theme of light in the dark played a part, which seems to be a constant theme throughout my work. It’s a creature from the deep, but incredibly beautiful. The stone inside was intended to be subtle so it showed a depth of colour and light.
HOW WAS YOUR RECENT TRIP TO INDIA?
An opportunity came up through Scottish Development International to promote Scottish businesses. From Glasgow Gin to kneepads, there was a great mix of people. I visited Mumbai, Jaipur and Deli. I wanted to re-establish connections with factories and suppliers i had worked with and then in Jaipur to build relationships with stone dealers and stonecutters. It was an incredible experience and I definitely want to go back, a lot of my inspiration comes from India and a place that endlessly fascinates me.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE TOOL?
Beading needles. I would be lost without them, it’s amazing what you can do with a needle.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR EUAN MCWHIRTER?
I want to start branching into different things, less about the brand and more about the industry. A blog that will reveal processes, inspiration, working with different artisans and the background of my work – The Existential Jeweller, that connects my love of jewellery and travel. The new collection launches online by the end of May. A re-brand by the end of September, that will see me venture into precious jewellery, a studio sale coming up on Thursday, and one day I would love to run my own shop!
Keen to share and show off the jewellery makers of Scotland, Vanilla Ink travelled to Edinburgh to meet with Hannah Livingston ahead of her new launch, Letters to Jinny.Read More