Search This Blog

Saturday 23 October 2010

Another Interview with Shpangle Jewellery

You may remember a little while ago that I was interviewed by Abi of Angel Eden. This was my 1st and only interview to date, however a couple of weeks ago I was approached by Karen who is currently studying for an FdA in Applied Arts at Cleveland College of Art and Design. For one of her assignments this semester she needs to carry out a small presentation related to a designer maker of her choice.

Karen explained that the brief was quite open for this; there were no set criteria for choosing the designer maker, and so it was a bit of an issue as to where to start! She had a spare ten minutes immediately after the session when given the brief, and so she spent those minutes on the Crafts Council directory, simply opening up random websites, and mine immediately caught her eye!

Karen had a few additional questions that couldn’t be answered from my website and blog, and here they are, complete with my answers which I thought I would share with you.

“In the article, you give some advice to new crafters about finding your niche, and making something unique. I've never seen anything such as your work before, but you must be constantly checking out the competition. Is there any major competition out there for you?”

The arts and crafts market has grown enormously over the last few years. With craft tutorials and supplies etc being so readily available online and online selling sites such as Etsy and Folksy making it so easy to setup an online shop, so many people have turned to trying to make money from the arts and crafts.

As a jewellery designer/maker it would be easy to follow the latest trends and styles. Whether it is beaded jewellery, the use of metal clay, steampunk etc but you will soon find that you will be competing for space with thousands of others, all doing the same thing.

So, the major competition out there is anybody who wants to make money out of selling jewellery, and there are thousands and thousands of them. Unfortunately not all of these ‘crafters’ and artists are perhaps as creative as they should be. I hate to say it, but there are elements of copying amongst crafters, and there is very little protection from this.

When trying to promote your work online you need to show off your designs a wide and varied audience as possible. Unfortunately this means that any new designs you announce are open to be copied. This has regularly happened to me and I know happens to other creative people. I have even had in the past sales enquiries from potential customers whom I have since traced as being fellow crafters trying to find out information; it can sometimes be a cruel world in the world of arts and crafts.

Words of Love Keepsake Jewellery
Words of Love Keepsake Jewellery

It has got to a point now where I will be moving away from the use of resin in my jewellery, and I will be adopting other techniques, some of these I might announce to the world, and some I will just keep to myself, and my family. I hope that I don’t come across too bitter, but the satisfaction of knowing that I have made something unique means a lot to me. I suppose it is weighing up the pros and cons of sharing it with the world.

“When reading the "about me" page on the website, the comment about how "if it doesn't move it goes into my jewellery" really stood out to me. There are so many people now who like to recycle or reuse objects, or use ‘reclaimed’ materials in the arts, but I haven't come across anyone else who produces pieces such as these. Can I ask where the original idea came from? What was it that first made you think of encasing something in resin?”

I see beauty in natural and everyday objects. So for the example the natural beauty of a daisy flower, you just can’t replicate that, you can try but to reproduce the subtle colours and details would be near to impossible.

Real Flower Jewellery - Daisy Pendant
Real Flower Jewellery - Daisy Pendant

I didn’t see the point of trying to copy what nature gives us and I wanted a way of preserving this natural beauty. So my first experience of the use of resin was when I was looking for a material that I could use to encapsulate everyday objects.

I like the idea of making jewellery from objects that aren’t using up the earth’s resources. Traditionally jewellery has been made using gemstones and precious metals, but I wanted to make items of beauty from things that are around us (without harming the earth too much).

My favourite item of jewellery that I have made consists of strips of newspaper with the words love randomly placed within the pendant. I think it is such a simple concept but so effective and that it is providing something wearable from a few strips of newspaper.

What inspired me to start making jewellery I don’t know, it just happened one day!
"Obviously the thing that stands out most about your jewellery is how personal it can be. The items in the shop are all fantastic, but the added dimension of being able to almost design your own piece must be quite a big selling point. Would you be able to talk me through how you go about commissioning such a piece from yourself?"

I like to be more than just a click of a button on a website and provide a very personal service for my commissioned jewellery. When somebody asks me to either embed an object or make an item of jewellery to their specification, I like have regular conversations with them during the process and keep them involved every step of the way. I like to make it very personal, which obviously may not suit everyone, but I have made good friends with customers working that way.

Horsehair Jewellery - Pet Hair Keepsake
Horsehair Jewellery - Pet Hair Keepsake

Wherever possible I like to submit designs, often photographing their items set against a mould or bezel that I use for making the finished jewellery. That way the customer can visualise the finished item. More often than not however, a customer would usually refer to a previous commission by me and ask for it to be made like that.

So the best of luck to Karen for your presentation and I hope that some of the things that I have said will be useful to you!



  1. noticed this through craft forum....a really interesting read!! thank-you

  2. A very interesting read Mick, your jewellery is certainly unique and always beautiful, wishing you further success in the future.


  3. Great and informative interview Mick, thanks for sharing that.



Thank you for your comments. I do appreciate the time and trouble taken to comment and will publish as soon as possible.