Today we introduce Angela Smith – a jewellery maker from Staffordshire. Have a look at her interview questions and beautiful jewellery!
1. Introduce yourself and your company!
Hi my name is Angela Smith and I design and make beaded jewellery, I have been making jewellery for 17 years now and I get as excited about my designs now as I did when I first started making all those years ago! I now make a large range of jewellery, tiaras, crowns and hair decorations as commissions or to buy off the peg.
I also run jewellery making workshops and am happy to run tiara making for groups too.
2. What made you start your company?
Having just had my third child and choosing to be a stay at home Mum, I needed to find something I enjoyed doing, which would also make me feel as though I was contributing to the family income. I had secretly been eyeing up a book about beads for about 3 months but couldnâ€™t justify buying it, incredibly my Mother bought it for me for Christmas although she had no idea that I had even seen it before and then took me off to a bead shop in her home town where I purchased a kit to make 6 pairs of earrings. I started by selling small items of jewellery to the Mothers in my Mums and Tots and then playgroups, the rest as they say is history!
3. Can you give us a typical â€˜day in the life ofâ€™ â€“ weâ€™d love to know what you do day by day, even the what-might-seem-like-boring bits!
Each day is totally different for me, but a typical day would start off by taking daughter up the lane to the bus stop, yes she is 17 now but the lanes are often wet or at this time of year icy and she would have a mile of these to walk along to the village bus stop, I return to breakfast by the computer checking mail, twitter, blogs and facebook pages.
I will then set to, sorting out the jewellery that needs to be made for the day, I will either settle to work at the dining room table, or pack up beads, findings, wire and tools and take them with me to Gallery at 12 in Eccleshall, which, as a member of the Staffordshire Artists Cooperative, I have to man 3 or 4 times a month, I will usually do my knitted or crocheted wire work at the Gallery and items that require a large selection of beads at home
4. What do you enjoy most or what is your favourite part of your job?
I love to see my work appreciated, especially if I have spent hours making an item, to see someoneâ€™s face light up when they see something for the first time, whether they are a visitor to the Gallery or someone coming to collect a commissioned item.
I also love to see a new design come together especially if I can tell it is going to be something really special, I have had quite a few moments like that over the years, I call them my â€˜goose bumpâ€™ designs.
5. How do you come up with your designs?
My designs evolve as I make them, I very rarely use source books, most of my inspiration comes from what I see around me, which might be from the natural world or from other materials around me. When I am making jewellery I am constantly asking the questions such as â€˜How could I have made this in a different way?â€™ â€˜How else could I have used these materials?â€™ I very rarely draw anything out beforehand I use my eyes as I am working to see where I should be taking the design as I go.
6. How do you manage to mix your busy schedule with home and family life? Some secrets to your success please!
I am not sure I have managed to mix the two that well, I have a very understanding family who realise that certain times of the year are going to be busier than others and during the quieter times I can spend more time with the family and be available for them.
Jewellery making is very absorbing; I can totally switch off from everything else that is going on around me when I get in the â€˜zoneâ€™. When my children were younger I had to use the oven timer to remind me to stop whatever I was doing so I could go and collect them from school!
7. Do you manage to ever switch off the phone or laptop, or always sneakily checking emails and calls 24/7?
Iâ€™m afraid I am something of a twitter addict, If I am at home the computer is on and my tweet deck is on keeping check of all my social network sites, so I do go to it throughout the day to see if Iâ€™ve missed anything, I have been known to sit working in front of the computer. I donâ€™t currently own a laptop or smart phone so all my internet work is very static, I suspect if it was available at my fingertipsÂ 24/7 I would use it constantly!
8. What top tip would you give couples that are getting married?
To make a list and stick to it! Â Donâ€™t get persuaded that you really need to have everything that is on offer at wedding fairs, shop around and source as many items as you can locally. And most importantly enjoy the day!
9. If youâ€™re already married, what one thing do you wish youâ€™d done differently?
I had a beautiful wedding on a very limited budget, most of the wedding trappings were provided by wonderful friends. So my dress and the bridesmaids dresses were made by a friend doing textile design at college, my hair and make up was done by a friend; all the flowers – Daffodils were arranged by another friend, she also did my bouquet, the cake was made and decorated by a wonderful friend and her husband did all our invites, another friend did the photography and so on.Â I had to buy my shoes, Juliet cap and my jewellery; so yes youâ€™ve guessed it, I wish I knew I had a talent for making jewellery back then. Iâ€™d have gone to town!
10.Â What has been your most unusual request and did you manage to fulfil it?
Iâ€™ve had two; one was to make a mask which I eventually decided to knit and as a consequence introduced a selection of masks to my jewellery. The other was to make a wedding head piece; this involved having a mesh of swirling wire adorned with beads over the top of the head attached to a single wire frame across the forehead which dropped down attaching to the ears to drop as earrings in emerald greens gold and crystal beads. I was asked to make this fairly early on in my jewellery making career, so after making this amazing crazy piece I decided that making a tiara would be a doddle, so I bought some tiara bands and tiaras were introduced to my repertoire!
11.Â How long do you usually take from start to finish with a couple? Please explain the process that you run through with clients so our readers can schedule it all inâ€¦
It usually would take about an hour to discuss all the jewellery requirements for the bride, and then a further half an hour for the bridesmaids.
I do recognise that not all brides want a tiara and some may have an item of jewellery that they have been given to wear on their special day, if this is the case I can make jewellery to compliment their existing jewellery.
I would request that any jewellery which has already been chosen and any material swatches of the dresses could be brought along and if at all possible a photo of the dresses to determine style and colour of the jewellery, tiara necklaces, bracelets and/or earrings.
I will discuss the brideâ€™s wishes and will show a number of tiaras and jewellery to use as examples, before working out the type of designs required.
I will then ask for a deposit to be paid and will then need about 6 weeks to ensure that everything is made and that the clients are happy with their items.
12.Â When do you recommend placing an order, please tell us how much notice do you need and how far should couples order in advance of the wedding?
I have made jewellery for a bride in less than a week, it was a bit hairy and she didnâ€™t get the jewellery until the day before the wedding as I had to order some beads in. She is a friend and I was attending the wedding too, so even more scary and not advised.
I prefer to have at least 6 weeks so I have plenty of time to order beads in, if needed and time to alter anything if required too; it also helps put the brides mind at rest to know that it is all sorted in advance.
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