Meet The Maker: Wendy Calder

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Before we get underway with today’s interview, here’s a little pop quiz warm up… 

Q: What’s the connection between Mary Poppins, Snow White and today’s Meet the Maker interviewee? 

Is it:
a) They all whistle while they work? 
b) They all have films made about them by Disney? 
c) They all have a special connection with animals? 

Read on to find out more…



Wendy Calder’s earthenware ceramics with scraffito cow parsley. Jug £28, mug £18.

Hello! To begin with please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your practice…
I am Wendy Calder, a Bristol based ceramicist, happily potting in St.Anne’s. I make functional ceramics and jewellery with botanical themed surface decoration.
Inspired by nature: Wendy Calder's earthenware jug (£28).
What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline?
I love the motion of the potter’s wheel, the ball of clay becomes a vessel quite quickly. It’s therapeutic and mesmerising at the same time. I enjoy working with pottery tissue to create monoprints, each one slightly different in line and tone, making them unique.

Sketchbook to ceramics by Wendy Calder. Vase £32; mug £18; jug £28; espresso cup, sold as a pair, £28.

What is currently your most popular creation?
My most popular pieces of work are my white earthenware mugs with allium and dandelion seed head monoprints.


Wendy's dandelion monorint earrings are £18 per pair
What are some of your biggest creative influences or inspirations?
I’ve always loved simple forms, inspired by potters Jennifer Lee, Robin Welch, Kyra Cane, Carolyn Genders to name a few. For the surface decoration I take inspiration from nature, especially my little garden when it’s full of alliums agapanthus. I’m lucky enough to live five minutes away from St.Anne’s Woods and Nightingale Valley. I’m in my element when the wild garlic flowers and the cow parsley are out. I always take my sketchbook and paints out with me when I’m on holiday, looking back at the paintings for possibly the next image on my pots.

Wendy's ceramics begin in her sketchbook with watercolour paintings of nature scenes

Tell us about your studio…
My studio is ideally situated from my home...downstairs on the ground floor! On the plus side I can still be in my PJs when I have to turn the kiln up at midnight, but sometimes I find I don’t leave the house for days. I’m very lucky to have a big studio, using it for making, pottery classes, fundraising events, my girls’ art homework, children’s parties, playing pool & motorbike storage! My wheel is situated near the window and door to the garden. I get morning sunshine and our rabbits often sit at the door watching me, they’re good company.

The wheel of the potter goes round and round: Wendy in her studio

Can you describe your creative process? How do you go about designing a new piece?
I usually sketch out some new ideas when I’ve got a coffee to hand. If it’s a new mug shape I like to think about the form, weight and how the handle sits in your hand. I’ve been making some new planters recently, a couple of the forms were a lovely happy accident on the wheel, which can feel like a breath of fresh air after weighing out clay and throwing 20 of the same design. If I’m stuck in a rut it’s good to see where the wheel will take me. I also get to try new things when I do demos in my classes. I get lots of inspiration from my students’ work, so many different results from teaching the same technique.

From sketch to print to pots - a glimpse into Wendy's process

What are some of the biggest challenges in your work?
The biggest challenge I face with my work is patience! From making to drying out, to firing then glazing and finally a second firing & kiln cooling time, takes me at least two weeks. I can’t rush the process otherwise the work would crack if damp in the first firing, or crack if I open the kiln too quickly in the glaze firing. If I have both kilns cooling this is the time I have to leave the house as I can’t stand the waiting!

Wendy's tools of the trade by her potter's wheel

What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Apart from all the creative works my daughters have made (and there are a lot as I’m not good at throwing things away) my most treasured possession is a gorgeous pot covered in beautiful scraffito Native American images, bought on my honeymoon and very carefully carried in hand luggage! It inspired me to try scraffito (scratching through the slip to the clay underneath) which I use on my red earthenware range.

Where would you like to be in ten years?
I’d like to still be fit enough to work the potter’s wheel, still be lucky enough to share my love of ceramics with my students, still go on adventures in our Bongo with my gorgeous family and probably wishing I wasn’t nearly 60! ☺️
Thank you Wendy! We look forward to seeing you on the 24 & 25 November and 1 December at our Made in Bristol Gift Fairs at Colston Hall.

You can also see Wendy's pieces featured in our first ever Made in Bristol Designer-Maker Gift Guide.

Photography thanks:
Products by Jo Hounsome Photography.
Other photos courtesy Wendy Calder.



In case you were still wondering, the answer to the pop quiz is as follows: 
- possibly a; 
- who knows about b (our questions were perhaps not probing enough on this occasion); 
- definitely c – although Wendy replaces singing to birds that willingly land on her finger (in both the cases of Mary Poppins and Snow White) with hanging out with rabbits while she’s making on her potter’s wheel. Either way, we have big respect that Wendy’s chilling with the bunnies…

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Meet The Maker: WP Woodcraft

Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Wood carved spoons by Will Priestley


‘Wood’ you believe it, the next interviewee for our Meet the Maker series is Will Priestley, a woodcarver. Will has a background in conservation and began spoon carving in 2014 with wood sourced from local land that would otherwise be burned or left to rot, and has built his business from there.  
Now, with only one other wood related pun that currently springs to mind, and that’s inappropriate at the best of times, it’s time to move swiftly on with the interview…
 
“Simple hand tools remove all the parts of the log that aren’t a spoon.” says Will Priestley.
“Simple hand tools remove all the parts of the log that aren’t a spoon.” says Will Priestley.

Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?
I’m Will Priestley and I’m a green woodworker specialising in hand-carved spoons. Green woodwork is the practice of using fresh wood rather than dried or seasoned and using the nature of the wood to guide you. The wood I use is a by-product of local conservation projects that would otherwise be discarded and I forage all it myself from within a few miles of my home in Bristol. I use only an axe and knives to go from log to spoons that are made to be used. A well-loved spoon will develop wonderful character over time. To me, there’s nothing sadder than seeing an unused spoon sitting on a shelf! 
Cherry wood salt pot and spoon, hand carved by Will Priestley.
Cherry wood salt pot and spoon, hand carved by Will Priestley.
What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline?
At its heart, green woodwork is a very simple craft. I love the fact that, with only four tools, I can fell a tree, saw it in to pieces small enough to carry, split it and carve it into spoons all in the same morning! There are very few crafts that have this simplicity and connection to nature. 

What is currently your most popular creation?
My Japanese-style ramen spoons have been very popular. Unusually for hand-carved spoons, they are made from two pieces of wood which allows me to have a nice contrast of colour between the bowl and handle. I’m not aware of any other spoon carvers selling anything similar at the moment.
Japanese-style ramen spoons handmade with two types of wood and handpainted by Will Priestley.
Japanese-style ramen spoons handmade with two types of wood and handpainted by Will Priestley.
What are some of your biggest creative influences or inspirations?
I take a lot of inspiration from work in different media. I like to think how certain details on a metal spoon or ceramic bowl would work in wood and how the strengths and weaknesses of each material will affect the final design. I look at the work of other carvers as well, not just the things they make but also their process, in an effort to learn more about my craft and develop my own style. 

Describe your studio or workspace?
I live in a small basement flat so space is not something I have in abundance, but I’m very fortunate to have a small, almost underground area outside: my spoon cave! I don’t need much room, just enough for a chopping block and space to swing an axe!

From log to kitchen: Will's 9 stages of handcarved spoon making.
From log to kitchen: Will's 9 stages of handcarved spoon making.
How do you go about designing a new piece?
The first thing I think about is what I want the spoon to do. Cooking spoons take a bit of a beating so have to be robust, eating spoons must be comfortable in the hand and mouth, jar spoons need to be thin enough to get to the bottom of a jar and long enough that you don’t get sticky fingers! Form must follow function. I often have a rough idea of design but the finer details are done as I make the spoon. Here I can feel it, see it from all angles and tweak wherever I think it needs it. 

What are some of the biggest challenges in your work?
All the aspects of being a maker that aren’t the making part! I don’t think I’m alone in finding the marketing, photography, organisation and all the other things that come with the shift from hobby to something more, are not as easy as some make it look!

Hand carved spoons in a wooden pot with lid by Will Priestley.
Hand carved spoons in a wooden pot with lid by Will Priestley.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Bristol has such an amazing community of makers and craftspeople and I’m lucky enough to be friends with a few of them. I couldn’t possibly pick one handmade possession over all of the others but some of my favourites are by artists Sarah Dowling and Jenny Holmes, and fellow spoon geek Jack Labanowski.    
What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut?
If I find myself a little bit lost for inspiration, I try to change things up. I’ll make something un-spoony like a pot or bowl or try a new spoon design or one that I haven’t made for a long time. Sometimes the answer to getting out of a rut is to tweak my technique a little, I’m constantly improving and evolving as a craftsperson and these little changes can lead to huge breakthroughs.

Will needs only four tools to go from tree to spoon...
Will needs only four tools to go from tree to spoon...
Where would you like to be in ten years?
As long as I can continue to improve, share my work and inspire others to take up this wonderful craft, I’ll be happy!


Thank you Will for sharing your tales from your journey so far with us – we look forward to seeing you demonstrating your craft and selling your spoons on Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 November at our Made in Bristol Gift Fair weekender at Colston Hall.

You can also see Will’s pieces featured in our first ever Made in Bristol Designer-Maker Gift Guide.


Photography thanks:
Products by Jo Hounsome Photography.
Other images courtesy of Will Priestley.




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Meet The Maker: Liz Vidal

Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Tableware ceramics by Liz Vidal


We've said it before but we'll happily say it again - we think our Meet the Maker interviews are the perfect opportunity to take a break from whatever you are doing in your day, and sit down with a nice cup of tea in your favourite mug and hear about the journey of some of Bristol’s finest makers. 

Today’s interviewee is perfect in that sense, as they are a maker of functional ceramics. Yes, mugs and tableware are Liz Vidal’s area of expertise. So, if you’re sitting comfortably, then we will begin…


Ceramacist at work: candleholder with some of the tools of Liz's trade
Ceramacist at work: candleholder with some of the tools of Liz's trade

Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?
Hi! I’m Liz and I create handmade, functional ceramics from my studio just north of Bristol. Most of my work is made on my pottery wheel and, alongside dinner-sets for homes, I produce tableware for restaurants in Bristol, London, Wales and Devon. My style is simple and organic – each piece is intended to be very tactile.

Calming colours of Liz Vidal's hand thrown cups, saucers, bowls and vase.
Calming colours of Liz Vidal's hand-thrown cups, saucers, bowls and vase.


What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline?
I love that you never stop learning with Ceramics and I hope this will continue for my whole life. As with any ancient craft there is so much history and therefore infinite techniques and styles to explore.
Made on the potter's wheel, a little beaker by Liz Vidal Ceramics.

What is currently your most popular creation?
I think mugs will always be a top-seller. I have a cupboard full of favourite mugs that I’ve collected from around the world and I choose each one depending on the type of tea, coffee, time of day etc. I love the idea that my pieces could form a part of someone else’s collection.

Breakfast in style with Liz Vidal's small and large bowls.
Breakfast in style with Liz Vidal's small and large bowls.

What are some of your biggest creative influences or inspirations?
My Dad is a joiner and I always admired his ability to transform pieces of wood into functional and beautiful items with his hands. We grew up with a workbench in our tree house and I remember constantly trapping objects in the vice and pretending to work on them.

I’ve always been inspired by Sandy Brown – a British ceramicist known for her spontaneous, passionate use of clay and colours. Her work is made with a lot of energy and confidence - attributes that I am conscious to apply to my own practice.
Oh my glaze! Liz Vidal's cup is subtle but punctuated with colour.

Describe your studio or workspace…
My studio is an old pigsty which seems as good a place as any to play with mud! I’m located at Hillside Studios, near Cribbs Causeway, with a view out towards the Severn Bridge and Wales. There are 7 other artists and lots of wildlife! I moved there in January 2018 and run various pottery workshops, both one-offs and weekly classes. It’s an incredibly calm space and I love driving out of the bustle of the city for a day’s work.

Surrounded by nature, Liz Vidal's pottery studio in North Bristol is a serene place to be creative.

Tell us what your creative process is like. How do you go about designing a new piece?
I usually start with a shape in my head, sometimes I scribble this on the table or in my notebook. Then I weigh out a few balls of clay and begin to experiment with throwing. As the process of ceramics takes 2 to 3 weeks to complete it’s a slow process and it can sometimes take a few months to get something right, especially with new glazes.

Steady as we go, in the shelf lined studio - Liz's ceramic pieces typically take 2-3 weeks to make
Steady as we go, in the shelf lined studio - Liz's ceramic pieces typically take 2-3 weeks to make

What are some of the biggest challenges in your work?
I think in ceramics it will always be pieces cracking or warping in the kiln. I have learnt not to be precious about particular items, and if something breaks I take a deep breath and start again. Patience is very, very important!

Shelfie: pots in process in Liz's studio
Shelfie: pots in process in Liz's studio

What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I have a handmade pendant – a resin disc with a tiny tiger set into it – made by British jewellery maker Helen Noakes. I’ve cherished it, above all other possessions, for a decade now and I don’t see that changing.

Part of Liz's ceramic practice includes running workshops and classes for others.

What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut?
Luckily my studio is surrounded by woods and fields so I can take myself off for a walk if I’m procrastinating too much. Otherwise I sit at my wheel and start making without anything in mind, letting my hands do the work without thinking too much.

Handcrafted detail in Liz's ceramics studio
Handcrafted detail in Liz's ceramics studio

Where would you like to be in ten years?
Still making pots and still teaching! When I lived in London I worked with various community groups and I would love to do similar projects in Bristol. I’d also love to go down the sculptural route one day and have the opportunity to make a large installation.


Thank you, Liz, for sharing your stories – we look forward to seeing you on Saturday 8 December at our Made in Bristol Gift Fair at Colston Hall.

You can also see Liz’s pieces featured in our first ever Made in Bristol Designer-Maker Gift Guide.

Photography thanks:
Products by Jo Hounsome Photography.
Studio shots courtesy of Liz Vidal.



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Meet The Maker: Hannah Broadway

Sunday, November 04, 2018
Three framed A4 prints: whisk, mustard and a lemon by Hannah Broadway
Before we begin, can we just check - have you made yourself a cuppa in your favourite mug? Are sitting comfortably in your preferred chair? Are wearing an item of clothing that makes you feel good? Why do we ask that?  Well, today’s maker appreciates the little things in life that help make each day just that little bit more enjoyable. Dear reader, I am talking about the inimitable illustrator, artist, and lover of colour, Hannah Broadway…

Sitting pretty in this shelfie is Hannah Broadway's framed Chinese Lantern print, from a series about what makes our homes homely.
Sitting pretty in this shelfie is Hannah Broadway's framed Chinese Lantern print, from a series about what makes our homes homely.
Hi there! To begin with please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your practice?
Hello, I’m Hannah. I’m an illustrator and designer. I have a couple of strands to my work, one is working for commercial clients on briefs and commissions and the other bit, is what you see here - pictures and prints I make to sell - sharing my love of the little things in life!

'Coffee and the paper' framed A4 sized print from the Little Things in Life series by Hannah Broadway
'Coffee and the paper' framed A4 sized print from the Little Things in Life series by Hannah Broadway

What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline?
I love drawing and colour! I also love the communication of an idea or a feeling through pictures. I really think pictures can make our lives better, more enriched and that making our surroundings prettier, cosier and more homely helps us to relax.

Brightening up any home with a good dose of celebration of the A-Z of the Little Things in Life. A1 framed print by Hannah Broadway.
Brightening up any home with a good dose of celebration of the A-Z of the Little Things in Life. A1 framed print by Hannah Broadway.
What is currently your most popular creation?
Lots of my Bristol prints are very popular, but I also have a couple of real stalwarts! My Dancing in the Kitchen print and my you & me have been really successful over the years. They are both part of my A-Z of the little things in life - which is also ten this year! This series started life as 26 prints, but later I put them altogether in the A1 sized print I sell today. I have updated the images along the way, and changed a few colours here and there, but the essence hasn’t changed, I’ve been celebrating the little things in life for a decade now - Yay!

Hannah Broadway celebrates one of the little things in life with this signed A4 framed 'Dancing in the Kitchen' prints.
Hannah Broadway celebrates one of the little things in life with this signed A4 framed 'Dancing in the Kitchen' prints.
What are some of your biggest creative influences or inspirations?
Those of you who know me, or follow me on social media, will know I am a massive David Hockney fan! In fact, I have been playing homage to him and his sartorial genius during October - or ‘Hocktober’ as I like to call it! I’m massively inspired by other makers and illustrators. I can’t walk past a bookshop without having a happy browse in the kids section. I love things and surround myself with lots of stuff that I think feeds my brain!

Behind Hannah's monitor is a plethora of colourful inspiration, as well pens, brushes, sketchbooks and other tools of the trade!
Behind Hannah's monitor is a plethora of colourful inspiration, as well pens, brushes, sketchbooks and other tools of the trade!
Tell us about your studio…
It’s a crazy mess at the moment, and usually is, if I’m honest! I’m a messy person… But I have a big desk and a big computer, with piles of paper, and pens and sketchbooks around me. I have a shelf in front of where I sit, which is full of objects and pictures that I love. I also love sewing, so my studio is full of fabric, a sewing machine and ‘Dotty’ my dressmaker’s dummy.

Can you describe your creative process? How do you go about designing a new piece?
Lots of scribble drawings, walking, thinking, writing stuff down in whatever form it comes into my head!  All of my work starts as a drawing, and then I scan that and use the computer to add colour and create and play with composition and type.


Just one of Hannah's mugs, alongside her specs and a sneaky peek at a new print in progress...
Just one of Hannah's mugs, alongside her specs and a sneaky peek at a new print in progress...

What are some of the biggest challenges in your work?
Deadlines! And juggling life really. My husband and I are both freelance creatives, which is awesome, but also a bit scary sometimes. I’m not very good at saying no to work. We also have a six year old - she keeps us busy!

What handmade possession do you most cherish? (Bonus points for mentioning another Bristol maker!)
Oh gawd - I just have so many!… My sister (Ruth Broadway aka Ruby & The Paper Parade) has just made me a paper mug - it’s beautiful, totally unpractical obviously, but just so lush - I have a thing for mugs!  I also am a massive jewellery junkie and treasure so many pieces from lovely makers. Kay Morgan is a genius and I have several pieces by her - my current favourite is a blue twisted leather bangle. I have an obsession with Miesje Chafer’s pattern work and her printed, folded fabric, hoop earrings are delicious, so are Bec's (PriorMade) hoops - which I am pleased to say I nudged her into making – in fact I think it’s time I got a new pair... *quickly goes to Priormade’s Etsy shop!*  Oh, and Stephanie Tudor’s rings are amazing and on my want list is a pair of Dakota Rae Dust’s earrings and an Emotional Waterfall necklace please!

Could this be a portrait of the artist through their most utilised tools?


What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut?
Sleep or go for a walk.

Where would you like to be in ten years?
Errrrr I’m rubbish at these ones - I’m not very ambitious - I guess I would like to still be making, enjoying what I’m doing and hanging out with my teenage daughter!


Thanks HB – we look forward to seeing you on Saturday 24 & 25 November and 1 December at our Made in Bristol Gift Fairs at Colston Hall. 

You can also see Hannah’s pieces featured in our first ever Made in Bristol Designer-Maker Gift Guide.

Photography thanks:
Products by Jo Hounsome Photography.
Studio shots by Hannah Broadway. 

 

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Meet The Maker: I Am Acrylic

Sunday, November 04, 2018
The most popular range of jewellery by I Am Acrylic includes their Lily of the Valley brooch, as well as the Clifton Suspension Bridge necklace and blackbird necklace.

They say small is beautiful and a great example of this are the items made by today’s creatives in our Meet the Maker interview. Yes, we are talking about the bright, cheerful jewellery that is handmade (or handcut, rather) by the equally bright and cheerful duo that is I Am Acrylic. We caught up with Ruth and Brendan recently to find out more…


Hello! Please introduce yourselves and tell us a little something about your work...
Hello! We are Ruth and Brendan and together we make hand-cut jewellery and other stuff mostly made from acrylic!

Ruth: I Am Acrylic started in 2004 when Brendan made me a bird shaped keyring from some acrylic that we found outside our old flat, using the fretsaw that my Dad had lent us for something-or-other. At the time I was working in Magma (a lovely book and gift shop) and the owner suggested we make some to sell and then it just naturally progressed from there to the range of necklaces, brooches, rings and earrings we have today!

We came back to the West Country a year ago having spent 17 years in London, and we now have a little shop and studio space on Christmas Steps in the heart of Bristol.

What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline?
We're constantly learning new ways to work with acrylic, so we're always experimenting, which we both love to do! We're currently trying to combine acrylic with other materials more, and we're also working on a range of non-jewellery items which may or may not ever get beyond the prototyping phase.

We recently found a manual from 1957 about working with acrylic, including some amazing projects and instructions for making all sorts of wonderful things such as swan shaped candy dishes, and grand piano shaped cigarette boxes!

One of the most popular range of jewellery by I Am Acrylic includes their Lily of the Valley brooch, as well as the Clifton Suspension Bridge necklace and blackbird necklace.
One of the most popular range of jewellery by I Am Acrylic includes their Lily of the Valley brooch, as well as the Clifton Suspension Bridge necklace and blackbird necklace.
What is currently your most popular creation?
Our new Months and Meanings flower brooches have been doing really well, especially the Lily of the Valley which seems to be a lot of people's favourite flower! And our simple little Blackbird designs, which we designed about 6 years ago, have always proved popular which is lovely as we're both really keen on them and love that they are still going strong!

I Am Acrylic's very tidy studio is situated out the back of their shop on Christmas Steps in Bristol.
I Am Acrylic's very tidy studio is situated out the back of their shop on Christmas Steps in Bristol.
What are some of your biggest creative influences or inspirations?
We often seem to be influenced by our surroundings. Whether that's a seaside sunset necklace from our holiday in Cornwall, or our Clifton Suspension Bridge necklace as Bristol is where we live!

Tell us about your studio or workspace…

We work at the back of our shop which is a very cute 1800s building on Christmas Steps. We love the history of the area and the building and we like to imagine the people that used the space before us! Two hundred years ago the space was used as a cafe, and then 30 years ago it was a shoemaker, and then more recently the Cider Shop!

We now have two mechanical fretsaws and a pillar drill in the studio space, plus lots of hand tools for finishing off all our jewellery components, which we can often be seen doing at our desk in the shop!

Tools of the trade: I Am Acrylic's sunny studio includes saws, drills and hand tools to make their jewellery, as well as lots of colourful acrylic sheets too, of course!
Tools of the trade: I Am Acrylic's sunny studio includes saws, drills and hand tools to make their jewellery, as well as lots of colourful acrylic sheets too, of course!
Take us through your creative process - how do you go about designing a new piece?
It's a fairly random process for us, we never really sit down and decide to design a new collection - designs just come about naturally as we react to things we do or see. Quite often, as mentioned earlier, it can be our surroundings that will trigger an idea, or maybe a nostalgia for something we loved as a child. Our Fuchsia flower range for example - I used to love making earrings from them as a child, and the streets of Bristol were covered with them this summer!

Ruth from I Am Acrylic used to make earrings from real Fuchsia flowers when she was a child, but now you can buy her more robust and lasting acrylic version instead!
Ruth from I Am Acrylic has progressed from making earrings from real Fuchsia flowers when she was a child, to now where you can buy her more robust and lasting acrylic version instead!

Brendan tends to work quicker than me and will make a prototype version of his ideas almost straight away (like the Clifton Suspension Bridge which he whipped up in one afternoon!). I'll faff around with bits of coloured paper until I'm happy with the shapes and then start working in 3D.
The main challenge for us always is keeping the designs relatively simple so we can actually manage to cut them out identically each time and so that they're not too labour intensive to make! The blackbird necklaces are actually one of the fiddliest things we make, Brendan has to cut out each tiny little beak for a start!

I Am Acrylic's process of making: From cutting out the shapes using a fretsaw, to all the tiny yellow beaks, sanding and joining the pieces to finally make the wonderful little blackbird necklace
I Am Acrylic's process of making: From cutting out the shapes using a fretsaw, to all the tiny yellow beaks, sanding and joining the pieces to finally make the wonderful little blackbird necklace
What are some of the biggest challenges in your work?
As touched upon above, for us it's a challenge to keep the design simple enough to replicate over and over in the way we work, but keep a level of detail in the designs. We actually love the way that this restriction has forced us to think of other ways of working, such as how we "draw" with the saw, as we have done for the tree trunk of our little tree brooches. This technique was a solution to us constantly trying (and failing) to hand cut very fine detailed pieces to stick on to a background. When we suddenly realised that we could do it the other way round and use the negative shape to give the detail it was a bit of a revelation!

Blooming marvellous: Spring, Summer and Autumn seasonal brooches by I Am Acrylic looking splendid on a denim jacket
Blooming marvellous: Spring, Summer and Autumn seasonal brooches by I Am Acrylic looking splendid on a denim jacket

Which handmade possession do you most cherish?
Ruth: I recently rediscovered a traditional handheld fan that was handmade by my Mum and Dad. My Dad (who's a retired CDT teacher) hand-cut and then hand-fretted some amazing detail into the wooden slats that make up the framework of the fan. And then my Mum (who was an artist and sports teacher) hand painted some beautiful poppy flowers and ears of wheat onto the paper bit of the fan. I find it really stunning and truly inspirational!

What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut?
Read a book (or just look at the pictures), browse through old sketchbooks and saved bits of paper from old magazines... or get out of the studio completely and visit a museum/gallery/independent shop, go for a walk/cycle, go to a flea market!

We both love to browse at vintage markets or indie makers markets - we love buying bits and bobs to go in our type tray which houses many little treasures, old and new, that have inspired us!

I Am Acrylic's collection of inspiring objects, including: tiny vases, flowers, printing stamps, embroidery, little creatures and more!
I Am Acrylic's collection of inspiring objects, including: tiny vases, flowers, printing stamps, embroidery, little creatures and more!
Where would you like to be in ten years?
We'd love to still be here on the Christmas Steps selling stuff we've made! We're also hoping to invite a few guest makers to sell some things in the shop next year, so who knows where that could lead! And as we both have a thing for vintage knick-knacks,that could also be another avenue that we explore in the shop. Let's see!


Brendan and Ruth from I Am Acrylic
Thanks Ruth and Brendan – we look forward to seeing you on Saturday 1 December at our Made in Bristol Gift Fair at Colston Hall. 

You can also see I Am Acrylic’s pieces featured in our first ever Made in Bristol Designer-Maker Gift Guide.

Photography thanks:
Products by Jo Hounsome Photography.
Studio shots by I Am Acrylic.



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