I’d been a fan of Lucie’s gorgeous jewellery for a while, which she makes in her garden studio in London. I was lucky enough to meet her at last year’s Crafty Fox Market where she was running Make Your Own Bunting Necklace workshops. I made one for me, one for the mother-in-law (and we both love them) and Lucie and I got to chatting. I was keen to know how she got started, so I basically bugged her incessantly until she gave in to my questions.
When and how did you start making jewellery? Just happen to find a fret saw lying around?
Ha! I’m not sure I even knew what a fret saw was when I started out!
I started off about 8 years ago, in the way that many do, by making bits and pieces for myself and my friends, mostly made from found and vintage components. I’ve always collected jewellery so making my own was a natural progression.
I made all sorts; brooches made from toy animals, necklaces made from vintage charms – nothing like what I make now! A friend told me about the Backyard Market on Brick Lane so I thought I’d give it a go. It was a brilliant start to my career and taught me an awful lot about the business! I never dreamed that 8 years later I’d be a full time maker, and I feel very lucky.
Your jewellery has changed over the last couple of years, from vintage china, to wood and paper. What made you decide to change, and what inspires your current pieces?
Oh I know! The things I make now are a world away from where I started. I began making jewellery from vintage china after I broke a favourite ‘Homemaker’ plate and couldn’t bear to throw the pieces away! I’ve always been a bit of a pack rat and I really hate waste and throwing things away, so finding a way to turn these seemingly useless shards of china into things that people would wear and cherish was wonderful.
Unfortunately when I moved back to London after a few years of living in the Suffolk countryside, I had to downsize my studio and now I don’t have room for all the tools that are needed to make them. So my focus now is on my wooden pieces, and honing my existing skills and learning some new ones.
I started making wooden jewellery accidentally really! I was freelancing in a workshop, and playing around with their tools trying to make some basic shapes out of wood. I loved it, so I kitted myself out with all the necessary machines and taught myself to use them.
It was, I remember very clearly, a very frustrating and exciting time! Lots of shouting and swearing when things didn’t work (which they didn’t. A lot.), but such a huge sense of pride once I’d got it all sussed out. You wouldn’t think that working with wood and paper would be that difficult but it really was! I think working in that “trial and error” way of coming up with my creative process has been really good for me and has left me well equipped to cope with problems when they arise. Which they do, with alarming frequency!
My inspiration changes pretty much on a weekly basis, currently I’m obsessing over monochrome patterns, and squiggles, and zig zags. I use Pinterest to collect images that will inspire new pieces, it’s the best!
You’ve been selling at markets for years now (plus a fantastic pop up shop last January)! What key tips would you give to makers looking to sell their wares?
Do some research, and visit as many markets and fairs as you can to see which you think will be a good fit for you and your wares.
Be organised – it will make life far less stressful! Make a checklist, remember your business cards, that sort of thing.
Make your stand look as attractive as you can without it becoming to cluttered. Oh, and try to enjoy it!
What’s in the pipeline for Lucie Ellen in 2015, any hopes or goals?
Pots! I’m desperate to start making little wooden painted pots! And big wooden painted pots! I’m also going to do a pottery class, but that’s going to be purely for me, a chance to make something without it being to do with Lucie Ellen, which is something I don’t get to do that often.
I’m also hoping to have a section on my website dedicated to limited edition pieces that will change every few months – I’m really excited about that. Not just jewellery, but hopefully more wall hangings and homeware. Things that I want to make, and not things that I think I should be making, if you see what I mean.
Sometimes in this job it’s easy to lose the plot a bit and and focus on sales so much that you forget what you like and what you want to be doing, so I want to try and find a good balance. That’s the dream!
What advice would you give someone thinking of taking the leap to full time making?
Organisation is key (advice I need to take myself fairly regularly!). Being a full time designer-maker can sometimes be a lonely world if you’re in a studio on your own, so try and find a regular market or event that you can do.
I’ve done that recently and it’s really helped me – with motivation, keeping up my stock levels, fine tuning my display and coming up with new pieces. I’ve also made some great friends. It’s lovely being pals with people in the same sort of business. You get inspired by each other and it stops you going bonkers!
Blog – Design*Sponge
I am a huge fan of Design*Sponge, and getting featured on their Instagram feed was a total career highlight.
I for one am pretty sure Lucie Ellen Pots will go down a storm.
If you want to buy some of Lucie’s amazing jewellery and homeware (and why wouldn’t you?), you can take advantage of the 15% discount for Inky readers with the code INKYDISCOUNT (valid in both online shops). Thank you so much Lucie!
Links to the shops and to all other online whereabouts below:
Twitter – @lucie_ellen
Instagram – @lucie_ellen
Pinterest – @TheLucieEllen
Facebook – ByLucieEllen
Etsy – Lucie0Ellen
Shop – Big Cartel
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