Meet the Maker - Rebecca Prior

Saturday, February 21, 2015
Wow what a lovely first week we have had at Lab Shop. Thank you everyone! One of our lovely new makers is Rebecca Prior, aka Priormade. Becky upcycles some unusual materials to create two ranges of beautiful jewellery. We asked Becky to tell us more....

Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?
Hi! I’m Becky Prior and I have been making reclaimed jewellery for three years now under the name Priormade. People seem to like what I make and I feel like I am starting to have a presence in Bristol’s Jewellery scene. It’s all a bit surreal! I have been in Bristol for 11 years, never left after an Art Degree and am more than happy to still be here.
I make two ranges of Jewellery; for one range I make colourful and feather like earrings from used bicycle inner tubes and the other, geometric earrings and necklaces from reclaimed wooden pieces. I only use stamped 925 Sterling Silver as the findings as it contrasts the inner tube/wood that would’ve been thrown away, making something that is essentially rubbish become something really precious! I like the story of the reclaimed materials so I include their story on the back. For example 'Viv – tube popped on unknown sharp object on route home from work. Somewhere between the Watershed and Easton, Bristol' and 'Teak – reclaimed from Weston Super Mare’s Grand pier, after the fire.'
Can you talk us through the process of creating a piece of your work?
To start with I cut open the tubes and give them a wash in soapy water. I then cut them to various lengths and shapes using the seam part for feathers and the left overs for the coloured parts. I then cut really fast along the edge, trying to get the lines as close together as possible. I then snip back into it removing parts to give the appearance of a real feather. I add the colour using paint pens and theatre scenic paint. I attach the silver findings, write the story of the tube on the back of the card and then store them in their individual bags. The wooden range is a far longer process as it involves sourcing the interesting wood from reclamation yards and carpenters, not to mention lots of sanding. They start off as larger pieces that I then cut into small thin sheets using a bandsaw. I then sand and saw them into shape and drill holes for the silver. They then go through the same final process as the tubes: colour, silver, packaging and then stored.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
A lot of recycled and reclaimed products look recycled and reclaimed! Although I am using recycled materials, I try to avoid this and aim for an aesthetic that is always really crisp, clean and fresh. I love screen-printing as the angles and definition is so perfect; I think I’m trying to recreate that.
What do you do when you are stuck in a creative rut?
I have the biggest 'to make' list you’ve ever seen. There are so many things I’d love to build, create and learn about. When I’m online, in shops and even sleeping – I think about designs and have endless ideas to make exciting things. I would love a pit stop in a little creative rut every now and then….
Apart from being a creative whizz what do you do?
I also design and fabricate artwork on commission; this can range from 3D signs, wall murals, props and puppets. I’m really in to processes and materials so I am always taking on random projects just to learn how to do it!! I also run workshops for adults and young people as I find it really fulfilling to share creative skills. I’ve worked for a variety of fantastic arts organisations in Bristol and I’m currently working at Young Bristol in their community clubs, helping to establish a new Creative Programme. It’s a fantastic charity to work for.
What graces the walls of your workspace?
Too much to list! Mainly loads of inner tubes, 'to make' lists, tools, sketches of designs plus marks where I’ve used the wall to wipe paint and glue off my hands! 
If your workspace walls could talk, what would they say?
Please tidy me!
Which Bristol neighbourhood do you call home?
My boyfriend and I have just bought a house in Redfield. It’s very exciting! The new processes and materials I’m learning about while doing it up is blowing my mind (and taking over my brain!). My heart is in Easton so we got the closest we could get!
If you could change one thing for the better in the city what would it be?
It’s a common thing to declare but I do LOVE Bristol. Bristol has so many great independent organisations but there will always be room for more, so it’s a shame to see so many new flats, supermarkets & large chain shops taking over historic and interesting locations! I also wish there was more patience between people especially cyclists, drivers and pedestrians! However, with my job(s) I get to work with lots of great people, be involved in some fantastic events and really appreciate everything we all do to make our city brilliant! I’m proud that Bristol people see the importance of art & culture.
How do you try to make greener choices in your work?
I’m always left with left over materials from projects. I started using my wooden off cuts to make jewellery and then experimented with inner tubes. I wasn’t really trying to make something that I could tag ‘green’; I just don’t like things being wasted. Did you know that inner tubes can’t be recycled and they end up on landfill? I’m chuffed that artists are finding new uses for them. When it came to buying packaging and business cards I make sure everything is recycled and always use local, independent printers. I’ve just discovered these cool biodegradable plastic bags to store them in too -  the only thing that isn’t recycled is the silver!

Thank you Becky, it's great to discover the story behind the materials you magically transform into your unique jewellery range. Reusing unrecyclable bike inner tubes = genius!

You can find Becky's work in our new shop, Lab Shop, part of the Bristol 2015 Lab until March 22nd when our transport chapter comes to an end. You can find the European Green Capital Lab on Bordeaux Quay on Bristol's historic harbourside. Enjoy....

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