You’ve learned how to make jewellery, so what now? Do you want to make jewellery? Do you want to work for another jeweller in the workshop or designing? Or can your skills be transferable and take a different path?
A jeweller can come in all shapes and sizes. Founder, Kate is jeweller but she doesn’t sit at a bench and create jewellery, she sits at a desk and creates opportunities for jewellers. Co-Director, Scott is a goldsmith and spends his time making exquisite pieces of jewellery to be adorned.
Our INKubator Programme is going in to it’s fifth year and over the four years we have had nearly 30 people through its door, with everyone’s journey being different.
The Programme is designed to give you time, space and further your knowledge. If you need something that helps to put your skills into practice, the Programme could be for you.
But don’t let us tell you, hear from some of our past INKers and find out about the path they took since the Programme and what they learned.
Our first INKer Interview is with Amy Dunnachie, who took part in INKubator 3, our first programme we ran in Glasgow in 2015.
VI: Hey Amy, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself ? What’s your name, where do you come from, where are you based? What did you do previously and what do you do now?
Amy: Hiya, my name is Amy. I come from the Isle of Jura, just off the West coast of Scotland, where I am also based. While I was doing the INKubator Programme, I wanted a pseudonym but also wanted to make reference to the playful world I loved to get lost in - and so “Amy Finds” was created. I loved to make colourful and whimsical objects from found objects and materials that evoked a sense of nostalgia and that need to collect and treasure.
I work now as a Community Development Officer, seeking out and implementing projects on Jura, learning from other island communities as I go. These range from environmental (such as setting up a Community Fridge, renewable energy and electric travel) to infrastructure (housing, transport, internet), activities (cultural, creative and sports) and Community Ownership (land and assets). The learning curve has been like a rocket launch!
VI: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey when you first got in to jewellery making? Did you always want to make jewellery, did you go somewhere to study, what did you start off making?
Amy: Before I went to Art School, I didn't really know what I wanted to do, so I enrolled on a Portfolio Course at GSA. This gave me the opportunity to discover much more about each of the courses. I fell in love with the Jewellery Department as soon as I went in as it just felt right. I was never one for making things that were delicate or “fine” (I’ve always enjoyed creating in a way that is a little off beat and naive) but craftsmanship is definitely important to me. Right from the start, I have always wanted to make work that gives folk a warm fuzzy feeling in their belly.
VI: What led you to the INKubator Programme? (how did you find out about it, what drew you to it?)
Amy: I had heard of Vanilla Ink in my 4th year at Art School and the Programme after I graduated - Kate had emailed to see if I was interested in applying. It came at the perfect time (which was nearly a year after I graduated) as I was desperate for more business/industry experience and had no idea how to go about it. I felt that at Art School, you were given this ideal impression of what the right ‘path to success’ is, but it wasn’t the path that I wanted to take (nor the path that I felt was natural to me). That’s why the Programme appealed to me - I wanted to gain the experience that would enable me to figure out what my natural path was.
VI: What was your biggest challenge during the Programme?
Amy: Aside from the obvious (commuting from Jura to Glasgow regularly), I remember finding the financial side of business versus fulfilment from the work quite difficult to wrap my head around. I didn’t see how I could run a jewellery business and make a living from it in a way that would keep my mojo intact. In some ways, this was the epiphany moment for me in terms of figuring out what it was that excited me about being a creative practitioner.
VI: Did your practice change during the Programme? If so, in what way?
Amy: The objects I wanted to make and did make didn't change, but my approach to thinking about why and what it was all for did. I still felt a little like I was trying to ram a square peg into a round hole. In my head I thought being a full time jeweller/maker could only be about making things to sell to people who have much more money than me. But actually my mentors from the industry and Cultural Enterprise Office, as well as all the people I met along the way helped to open my mind a bit more and see that creativity can be used in a much more socially enterprising way, but also that it didn’t have to just be about a finished piece of jewellery. I had always enjoyed having a storytelling element to my work and used to see little poems, anecdotes or stories as just part of the development - a fun but hidden piece of the process. During the programme it became more of a feature and stamp to Amy Finds.
VI: What were your goals going in to the Programme? Did they change, did you achieve them, were you surprised by anything during the course?
Amy: My goals were simply to improve the essential skills for business - pricing work, marketing effectively and how to keep accounts. I had a longer term goal of running creative workshops too. In learning about marketing effectively, it became a focus for me to ‘strengthen the voice’ of the work and that’s where I began to start shedding more light on the storytelling aspect of it.
I was surprised at how much depth there was to the Programme - it wasn’t just about learning a skill or powerpoint presentations - in fact, the mentoring was fantastic and the workshops really got you to dig deep and examine your practice. Importantly, it was fun and felt like a completely safe and uncompetitive space to develop.
In short, in some way or another, I did indeed achieve my goals! Even with creative workshops, though they have been on a volunteer basis, I have recently ran an Art Club with my pal for Jura’s youngsters.
VI: Quick Fire Round!
Silver or Gold? Silver
Shared Workshop or Flying Solo? Shared! There’s nothing nicer than communal cuppa and snack breaks
Tea or Coffee? Depends on the time of day and quality of the coffee ha!
Planner or Last Minute? Naturally last minute
PC or Mac? Mac
Inked or Clean? Inked
Sketch first or Straight to the bench? Straight to the bench - thats the best bit
Your favourite tool? Hmmm I think the burnisher for the finishing touch
VI: Since completing the Programme your path has changed course slightly, can you tell us what changed and why you decided to make the change?
Amy: A few things changed after I completed the Programme that were kind of fateful I suppose! Island life keeps you on your toes (and tends to make decisions for you), and we made a move out of our rented house into a caravan to save some money - meaning that there would be no space for a workbench. I also had a fairly unstable work situation as it was (and still is) public funding dependent, so I was snapping up everything I could so I could still have a reliable income.
My current job came about through this snapping up of work, but is also something I am absolutely passionate about and able to be creative with in my own way. So although it was a choice to put making on the back burner, it also feels like something bigger is playing out too. I think the timing just wasn’t quite right for me. But as I was saying about fate, I’ve learned a lot through working on community projects and it has given me the experience of working in a social setting (as well as the boring stuff like budgeting and accounting!) and I can see more clearly how I might be able to combine creativity and socially aware practice.
The dream has always been to make work that makes other people feel good, or make a meaningful change. I feel like I’m steadily gaining the skills to do just that!
VI: So do you still make, what’s different? Are you happy?
Amy: Until fairly recently, I was still doing the odd commission for pals from my mum and dads kitchen table, rifling through boxes of tools and materials for hours to find the right equipment. It turned out to be a bit stressful and ridiculously time consuming, so I had to admit a bit of defeat and nip that in the bud until I can find a permanent wee space to work from. I definitely miss making, even just for myself, and it’s something i’m still trying to work out. I also need to remind myself to be patient and that I can’t do all the things at once!
One great thing that has happened (island fate at play again) is that a small pool of us on Jura have recognised that none of us are getting enough play time when it comes to creativity and have set up an artist collective to rectify this. We are “FL:EDGE” - a collective of artists, activists and professional cultural organisers who make ways for art and culture to happen in wild and wonderful places, so that powerful ideas can take flight. So far, we have been getting together to have play dates - plaster casting beach surfaces and making objects from found things. We’ve already done a radio 4 interview actually, to be aired at the end of the month!
VI: Do you think things would be different now if you hadn’t done the Programme?
Amy: Yes. If there’s one thing I took away from the Programme (there was way more than one thing of course) it was confidence and belief in myself as a practitioner. That feeds into everything you do, creative or otherwise.
From my point of view, I felt a bit like I had failed after graduating from art school because I hadn’t taken that idealised path, but that’s absolute nonsense. This Programme gets you out of that bubble and enables you see the bigger picture (a very useful tool for all aspects of life!).
VI: If you could tell your younger self anything before entering the Programme what would it be?
Amy: You still might not know everything there is to know about being a successful and wealthy creative human by the end of it, and thats absolutely fine. Also, don’t over-think things, that’s a bad habit from art school!
Amy will be on Radio 4 on a programme called ‘Open Country’ on the 1st of August at 15:30 and repeated again at 6am on the 3rd of August. You can find the link here.
Huge thanks to Amy for taking the time out to answer our questions. If you are interested in joining the INKubator Programme for 2020, applications are now open and close on the 29th September. You can find all the details here.