Hi there! Today we dive deep into the world of Nicky Barter and her beautiful hand illustrated jewellery. Nicky uses a variety of different methods, which we were excited to discover. We caught up with her recently to find out more...
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?
Hello, my name is Nicky and I design and hand make items under the name; ‘The Catkin Boutique’. I make jewellery using my own illustrations printed onto shrink plastic and I hand silkscreen and lino print cards, bags and other accessories.
Apart from creating things what else do you do?
Not much else! I like to walk around the countryside where I live, reading - especially inspiring magazines and colourful blogs, and window shopping in boutiques, vintage shops and markets. And I love to travel, although its been a while!
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I’ve always enjoyed drawing and making things, I don’t think I could do anything else! Like many kids growing up in a creative house; a pot of colouring pencils and paper was the main form of entertainment, and that’s still what I like to do today. But I think opening an online shop and selling my work to people other than my family and friends gave me confidence to call myself a designer-maker.
What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline?
I work with many different materials and techniques, I find inspiration with each new medium I learn about. Shrink plastic is great because it’s something anyone can use, no need for expensive equipment or training. Any jewellery ideas I have can come to life quickly. I also love bold graphical images archived with printing and how you can go on to use your image/design on different materials to make different products.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I’m inspired by nature especially animals. Whether looking at the patterns made by layered birds feathers or trying to capture the personality of someone’s pet, it’s an endless source for ideas. I like to look at other countries, cultures and eras too; sometimes mixing old and new to get fresh ideas. I especially love East Asian art such as Japanese woodblock prints or cute South Korean stationary. I also enjoy meeting or reading about other makers, seeing how anyone with a passion can make what they love into a living -keeps me trying!
Describe your studio or workspace?
I do most of my work at my desk, with all my tools to hand. I have lots of inspiring cards and prints pegged around my walls and little draws and boxes filled with materials and incomplete craft projects. I silkscreen and lino print in what used to be a garage, it has a lovely view onto a field.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Difficult to choose! Maybe Henri Rousseau - when I was little I obsessively drew jungles scenes not too different from his style. Alex Monroe - I’d love to learn traditional jewellery techniques. Hannakin, makes cute illustrations and art dolls. And I’d like to see the studio of Hello Sandwich in Tokyo!
How would you describe your creative process?
When I have an idea I draw it down in my sketch book, I’ll then develop my idea and think about how best to make it. I get carried away when developing ideas. I always find I make sets of things -never sticking to one product- it’ll be a range of cat earrings or flowers cards etc. With jewellery I delve straight into the drawing, printing and making. Silkscreen and lino printing can take a bit longer. I draw my silkscreen designs in pen and ink, then transfer this onto a silkscreen using light sensitive fluid and a bulky old light box. I really enjoy carving print designs into lino - I make my lino designs more simple where as silkscreen images can have more detail in them.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I brought a little necklace of porcelain wings from a jewellery maker in Seoul, South Korea. The maker’s stand was part of a mini shopping complex called Ssamzie-gil which was full of small independent shops and artists. Not only were all the shops and stalls brilliant but the building was covered in art and craft; giant flowers creeping up stair wells, a public graffiti wall and light installations. It was like a pimped-up version of Paper Scissors Stone, and where the idea of craft as a business first seeded itself in my brain - although it took many years for me to start myself... Just wearing the necklace reminds me of how inspired I was by the place, and all the crafty possibilities there are.
What do you do when you are stuck in a creative rut?
I get out of the house and go for a walk, being outside and away from your computer is refreshing and I come back ready to get on with work. I also try to get boring admin jobs done when I’m not inspired - my art supplies always need tidying!
Which is your favourite local independent shop or eatery in Bristol & why?
Photographique- I have a little collection of plastic cameras and they do a great job of printing 120mm film, as well as my standard camera rolls.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
With my own shop/studio full of work I admire as well as my own stuff, maybe even in the Ssamzie-gil shopping complex! Just making a living of my own art and craft alone would be brilliant.
Thank you Nicky! Wow, to go to Seoul would be a trip! We'd love to see that shopping centre!
Nicky's beautiful creations are available to buy now in our Paper Scissors Stone shop - which is full of wonderful gifts and homewares for you to discover!
Paper Scissors Stone
Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm
Sun: 11am - 5pm