Jeweller Jen Cunningham joins the team at Vanilla Ink as a freelance jeweller working with Scott creating and remodelling commissioned pieces of jewellery.Read More
It dawned on me that I have been attending New Designers for 10 years, 11 if you include my own year that I exhibited way back in 2007. Known to showcase the best of graduate designers, it's ideal for us to have all graduating jewellers and silversmiths under one roof.
Things have changed since then and I really noticed it this year to the point that I am questioning whether to attend next year.
Over the years the jewellery section of New Designers (which is always the part we are most interested in of course) has been getting smaller and smaller. First they introduced a cafe, offering stands to corporations, courses being cut left right and centre and some not being able to afford to attend. Is this something we should be worried about? Is this a cause for concern regarding our industry. It would be interesting to open a discussion about this and perhaps this is another blog post but for now I would love to share my highlights from the show.
Having attended the show for 10 years running I have seen many graduates work and it's things that are different that catch my eye. Jesmonite seems to be a popular material this year but the work of Heidi Carthew really stood out.. Perhaps it was the giant diamond shape that caught my eye, or the fact she was making vases and stands and was in the jewellery section that helped her stand out.
Cleverly crafted and beautiful, that's really what I'm looking for and Heidi has captured that in her work. Would certainly love to have one of her pieces in my house. Check out the rest of her work here.
Sara Chyan's work takes a minimalistic approach to conceptual support. Sara's latest collection really stood out from the crowd in One Year In. It is inspired by her obsession with heat, using low melting point metal - bismuth to tell the story, exploring the possibility of using temperature to access one's emotional state.
Anna Jane Younie's work is inspired by her home land of Orkney. Huge vessels that are craggy and textured making them incredibly tactile. I have discovered a love for ceramics recently and Anna's work really stood out, she was also awarded the Craft Scotland Graduate award and you can see why. Translating the beauty of Orkney into large vessels and vases.
Created by scoring, folding and forming sheet silver, the Veer series from Silversmith Alex O'Connor is inspired by a season of walking in wintertime through the raw, rural landscapes of Cornwall and Wales. Drawing on the sensory experience of place, the visual weight and overall balance of this elegant, grouped collection reflect the artist’s physical encounter with slanted rain, driving wind, and the untameable outdoors.
I was drawn to Alex' work due to the simplistic forms but what often hides behind simplicity is a complex process. We are opening The Smiddy - A Centre of Excellence for Silversmithing and Jewellery later in the year and my appreciation for Silverwear and it's complex nature has grown.
"I take inspiration from Glasgow's architectural quirks with my main focus given to the chimney tops which live above the city having no real purpose anymore. Chimneys are in some cases key to holding a building together and if removed incorrectly the building could collapse. I mimic this idea in my work building structures with both wire and sheet which if not cared for especially in the making process could meet the same fate." Rachel Hardie talking about her graduate collection that I first saw at the GSA Degree Show earlier in the year, if I remember it then they've done something right. I love the use of the black and gold and the quirky nature of her designs.
I was first attracted to Jack Durling's older work because of it's black and gold and it's tactile nature, but then it drew me in further as I could sense he was trying to say something more than the beautiful objects they were. Jack seeks to create emotive work thats brings focus upon conservational issues that are of an often ignored and complex nature. Subtle hints are incorporated to address greater problematic issues in the world in which we live today such as animal welfare concerns and pollution. Jacks compassion for wildlife protection has led him to create his latest body of work 'Cloaked Cetacea' to express the beauty and value of these species.
In a hidden lane not so far away, lies Scott McIntyre, co-founder & co-director of Vanilla Ink, passionate educator, Star Wars fan and master of jewellery! (sorry, I still have Star Wars fever from Christmas time!)Read More
This week, I was lucky enough to attend a creative business workshop held by The Design Trust's Patricia van den Akker. Patricia visited us at the Vanilla Ink school, along with 20 other attending jewellers and creatives to teach us how to make more money from craft and how to run a successful creative business.Read More
We are thrilled to announce the Inkers of 2018, 7 emerging jewellers and silversmiths join us from across the country for our 9 month Vanilla Ink Professional Development Programme.Read More
Apprentice Louise here, my second week at Vanilla Ink and I'm already being filmed for STV! Read all about it...Read More
"I feel so happy, I feel so glad.
I have found the best job,
I could have ever had!!"
- a re-imagining of 'Changes' by Black Sabbath.
Hello everyone, I'm Louise - Vanilla Ink's new creative apprentice and I'll be posting a blog every Friday to chart my progress as an aspiring jewellery maker over the next 12 months. (Please ignore that the first blog was posted 3 days late). I'll be writing about my time in Vanilla Ink, the new skills I'll be acquiring, reflecting on what I've learned and all the fun stuff in-between. Hopefully you'll forgive my ramblings and lack of good grammar, I'll write as candidly as I can to make up for it.
So, from being a skint, unemployable ex-student for way too long to becoming Vanilla Ink's first jewellery apprentice has been a huge confidence boost to say the least. Previous soul crushing jobs of mine were made up of pushing sales on the unwealthy, being hounded by managers leaning over my shoulder passively demanding ridiculous targets, facing computer screens day in, day out with minuscule toilet breaks as well as many of angry phone calls from customers who seemed to only ever want to complain about how terrible their bank was or how they couldn't understand my 'thick Scot's language'.
Fast forward some perils and revelations later, I now come to work to get creative! Out with the over ironed business attire and in with the new old work cardigan and Vanilla Ink peenie. My new bosses are artists and they speak my language. I still don't know how I got so lucky as to get this apprenticeship. My friends and family kindly say its due to my skill, time studying and hard work - which of course I won't argue with but I am aware of how difficult it is to find a creative job within the craft sector. Most of my creative friends still don't have work never mind creative work. So, after a semi decent/semi disastrous interview I got the call offering me the apprenticeship. Me, who had next to no jewellery experience and who had been out of work for over 2 years had got the coveted apprenticeship. I beamed, laughed and jumped for joy for over 2 days after. Then went into panic as I was to start the approaching Monday and couldn't even remember to make a packed lunch anymore. But there's nothing like just getting straight into something you're anxious about.
Working with fellow artists is so different than my time working as a banking customer advisor or insurance claims administrator. And yes, both jobs were as boring as they sounded. Not only were these jobs boring but also had a huge impact on my mental health. But now, no longer do it dread going into work. I now have two amazing artists, jeweller entrepreneurs as my bosses who just happen to speak my language, Art. They also easily understand my 'thick Scots accent'..
For anyone who doesn't know of Vanilla Ink, co-founders and directors Kate Clifford and Scott McIntyre, they are wonderful, inspiring people. I don't regularly meet or come from a place that boasts enthusiastic, aspiring and inspiring talented creators. I've been catching myself just watching them and trying to visually take in what they do and learn how they manage to do it so well. They are the creative influences I never had, I now christen them my 'work parents'.
But I guess that's why I'm actually here, to learn and live the jewellery business. It's only been 3 days so far but so far, those 3 days have been filled with so much fun and stimulation. Getting to manipulate metals and create items in a fresh, bright, welcoming environment while having two incredibly talented jewellers give me their valued combined 20 years + knowledge and experience definitely seems like a privilege. I certainly feel like reaping these benefits and making up for all those years stuck in an office behind a computer. All I can think about is how much I'm going to learn and be able to do in the future. How valuable everything from making a piece of jewellery to learning how to run a business will be in my professional and personal life.
I look forward to continuing to soak up every piece of knowledge and advice my two new work parents give me. I look forward to getting to know and having a great working relationship with like-minded creative talents. I look forward being able to create, to design, to make people happy, helping others to create and be happy. And most of all I look forward to just enjoying everything I'll get from this wonderful opportunity.
If you are into the Instagram thing then follow my progress there too at @louisevanillaink. https://www.instagram.com/louisevanillaink/
Top learnings from week 1:
Making jewellery is fun!
"What you do to one side, do to the other."
Saw blades can break very easily.
On the 1st of August 2017, I (Kate) married my true love, Mr Richard Clifford.
This is not a blog post about us blowing our own trumpet or our mushy love story <3, however this is a blog post to sing the praises of others, to all those that helped to create a day we will never forget.
The creative circle in Scotland is quite small, you get to know people rather quickly so when it came to planning our wedding we knew exactly who we could work with to give us a day that truly reflected us and our style. Coincidently, a lot of them were good friends which made it even more special for us.
Our first shout out has to go to The Hendrys, our wonderful photographers and who's beautiful photographs that have captured our perfect day. They were an absolute dream to work with, I have known them since my time in Dundee and I always wanted them to photograph something special. So my first request was to book them, luckily they were Richard's style too, because who wouldn't?! They made us so relaxed and we didn't even notice them most of the time! We love their style and their use of muted tones, we are over the moon with the pictures and everyone we have shown loves them too. 100% recommend these lovelies! All the photographs featured here are by them <3
Katie Lees Jewellery - Another must for me, was that my good friend Katie Lees was to make the rings. I have loved Katie's jewellery since we met way back in 2009. The boy did good and they designed my unique engagement ring together, white gold chain wrap with a grey diamond (a mission to find with only two weeks notice!). The wedding ring was my choice however, I went for a yellow gold arc with pavé set black diamonds...until a week before the wedding. Katie made the mistake of bringing out her box of tricks when I asked to try on my ring again. And like a magpie I am I started trying them all on and then my eyes locked on the ring in the picture and I had to change my mind. Thankfully we are good friends and Katie agreed to swap the rings.
Richard went for a chunky, striped, knife edge ring, silver on either side of a white gold band to replicate my engagement ring! A beautiful piece he gets to wear everyday.
Vanilla Ink work with Becky from Smith & Gibb, she runs our fantastic enamelling course and I have coveted her tassel earrings since seeing her degree show a few years ago and what this wedding gave us was a chance to justify getting things bespoke, made by people we love! Her first black and gold commission obvs ;) Cream enamel, gold detail and black tassels <3
Being best friends with a jeweller also means you can call upon her talents when the time comes. I asked for a silver headpiece for my sister to wear and Jo (aka Joanne MacFadyen wonder woman behind Teagreen Events), it gave my sister's outfit a real 1920's vibe with the addition of hanging chain.
Another mention goes out to another one of my favs, Beth Lamont. She created a bespoke colour way of her iconic ceramic necklaces for my mum to wear with her outfit and it just set it off beautifully.
I am also incredibly lucky to work with a Goldsmith wizard, now co-director of Vanilla Ink, I had to abuse his talents and get him to make me something that really reflected me. Bored one day, I asked Scott to carve me a skull ring...a few hours later my wish came true. Scott made me a silver skull and crossbones ring with black diamond eyes and a gold tooth! Not stopping there, Scott then went on to mould and cast the skull head and transformed them into jewellery for my wedding party and my husband to be!
Debbie from Hope Hairdressing has been my hairdresser for I don't know how long, no matter where I go I always come back to Dunfermline to have my hair cut by Debbie. I trust her and no one else would have done my hair on that day! No one else would shave part of my head on my wedding day and give me a fauxhawk! She also did my Sister and Mum's hair too for a treat!
A plethora of talented people were involved in our wedding stationery. It all started with a lovely watercolour from my good friend Charlotte Ross Tattoos. We commissioned Charlotte to paint a rose and we were planning on using it for the Save the Date invite but it was just too good that we wanted to use it for the main invites, and boy did we pimp that rose out! We then had our good friend and Richard's Best Woman, Kerry to design the invites, menus, welcome cards, welcome poster, name tags and table plan, she did SOOO much and did a beautiful job. To finish them off we had the wonderful Jennifer Colquhoun do some calligraphy; my favourite being our table names, all the dogs we've had in our lives, past and present on demijohns we had collected ahead of the wedding. We got all our stuff printed at exactaprint, their service was exemplary.
bakery47 - just YUM! One of the most difficult decisions was deciding on the cake! We knew who we wanted to make it, (I've worked with bakery47 for a number of CARVE workshops and they're just the loveliest) but they make utterly delicious cakes so it was hard to narrow it down. We ended up going for a lime and courgette tier with carrot cake (which I hated before I tried a bakery47 carrot cake) with a cream cheese frosting...but we couldn't end there. We got brownies, amaretti bites, butterfly cakes, mini fruit cakes and vegan peanut butter and raspberry cookies. A big hit with everyone! Anna was so patient with us, it took a lot of to-ing and fro-ing to get what we wanted. Unlucky for all of us, bakery47 have closed their physical bakery on Victoria Road but they are still doing baking residencies and who knows what else the future will hold.
I first met Lisa from Floral Menagerie during a wander around one of the amazing Wedding Collective Markets but after months of following her via instagram that meant we were friends right?! I knew I'd get on well with Lisa, just through her instagram channel, branding herself as an alternative florist and her use of dead things, I was sold! Lisa doesn't need much to let her creativity to go wild. I showed her the painting commissioned from Charlotte and that was enough. Coupled with my idea of having succulents in billy cups as table decoration/wedding favours, Lisa was able to come up with bouquets, button holes, installation, cake topper and she even made the doggies a flower pin (they didn't last long, Rita clearly didn't like Brutus looking as pretty as her and ripped it off within minutes) that were just stunning.
THE LITTLE TOUCHES
A special thanks to my mum who spent a lot of time building up flower boxes, watering cans, chimneys and ivy globes way ahead of the wedding! And the day before, my mum, my great aunty and myself dawned our wellies and rubber gloves (to protect our wonderful nails), foraged for some foliage to dot around the venue in recycled coffee jars, our cool empty gin bottles for the gin saloon and the demijohns for the table names. Mum also dried out rose petals to throw over us after the ceremony. Aunty B and mum made us elderflower champagne to serve to guests as they arrived...it was like rocket fuel so definitely kickstarted the day ;) Both our families were hugely supportive throughout the run up to the wedding and a thank you is not enough to cover the gratitude.
I wanted to surprise Richard and create some temporary tattoos for our guests, we wanted to tat them up just like us. I asked our good friend Charlotte of Waste of Paint Productions to draw me four designs, I simply told her what I wanted; Brutus, Rita, something that sums us up and something romantic. She outdid herself and the tattoos were created (by my other good friend Erin in a state of panic), everyone loved them and it was so much fun seeing everyone tattooed up! I loved the design of one so much that I had it tattooed for real by the incredible Paige Davidson Tattoos at Custom Inc.
I also commissioned Studio Emma to cast a 'K' and a 'R' as another surprise for Richard, black and grey with pieces of brass flecked through it. We did a swap with Emma, concrete letters in exchange for some scrap copper and brass to use for further projects, check out her work, it's stunning!
This was one thing I really struggled with, I suffer from eczema and make-up is not the easiest thing to wear. I also wanted to use cruelty free make-up which made my picking even slimmer. I'm not sure how I came across Asia from anaisbridal, probably through my manic google searching but I am so glad I found her. She was very accommodating and used products that were fine for my skin and cruelty free! She was so relaxing as well which I think is important in that industry. My sister and I had a make-up trial ahead of the day and then we all got our make-up done on the day.
I also treated myself to some nails, my job and skin requires no nails but for my wedding day I wanted something different. I went to Neverland Nails after recommendation from Lisa at Floral Menagerie and it was my kind of place! She gave me some talons for the big day, matte black with gold foil tips, I felt proper fancy! All the products used were vegan/cruelty free <3
What can I say...Dalduff Farm was incredible! We were looking for something rustic, something relaxed and something barn like! Dalduff gave us all this and more! Their hospitality, their service and their food, gosh their food! They catered to all of our needs and went above and beyond to make sure our day(s) ran as smoothly as possible. We had a three day wedding, cause we are greedy and wanted to spend as much time with the people that we love. The night before the wedding had us being served the most delicious pizza from Nomad Pizza from their pizza van and the day after we had a BBQ and Karaoke, nothing beats singing Limp Bizkit with your bestie in front of your new family! It was such a luxury for us to spend so much time with our family and friends and it meant we got to savour the moment just a little bit longer.
Everyone expected Richard to be wearing a kilt, mainly because he is quintessentially Scottish but Richard had his heart set on a 3 piece tweed suit. Walker Slater was the place to go, he kitted out the Groom, the Best Woman, Grooms Father and the Father of the Bride and boy did they all look dapper. A suit for life we are sure! Richard and Kerry both got their incredible shoes from Shoe Embassy too, a quirky addition to their 20's attire.
We had known for quite a while who we wanted to play at out wedding, I tried to do it as a secret for Richard as it was him that really wanted them but it was too hard to keep. The Shiverin' Sheiks were one of the first things we booked once our venue was booked. You see Richard likes to think of himself as a bit of rockabilly and in his past has been known to swing, I can't dance for s**t but the Shiverin Sheiks got everyone dancing and it was so much fun! Now I had actually planned the last hour to be my kind of music seen as Richard got the band he wanted, I wanted an hour of moshing but SOMEONE never sorted the speakers so it was a bit of flop than a headbang :(
We discovered another gem at The Wedding Collective and that was our humanist celebrant, Susan. Susan was brilliant, made us feel so relaxed and had our guests in stitches. One joke especially that I will never live down and still get reminded of today (those that were there know what I'm talking about). We loved that she made our guests cry with laughter!
The Wedding Collective also brought dressmaker Rowan Joy into my life and I am so thankful! Rowan was brilliant, I loved our meetings in Edinburgh, not only because she was making my dress but she was also making my sisters bridesmaid jumpsuit and my Mum's trouser suit, and that got us together every month!
I actually dreamed of a vintage dress, I loved the idea of it being steeped in history and I was just adding to the story of that dress. My mum then offered to use her dress, no offence mum but it wasn't necessarily the style I was going for. My Mum got married to my step dad in the early 2000's except my mums dress hailed from the 90's. Not a flinch from my mum, she allowed us to chop it up! Rowan cut off the bodice to leave the beautiful silk skirt and then transformed my mums wedding dress into a two piece wedding outfit for me. She made a wrap over silk top to match the skirt and gave it a lace trim down the back. I absolutely loved my dress, Rowan saw my vision and turned it into a masterpiece WITH POCKETS!
Under enough pressure, my sister dropped the bomb that she was pregnant and was going to be 6-7 months pregnant by the time of our wedding, still set on a jumpsuit, Rowan had to leave it until the week before to finish it so that it was going to fit my ever growing sister.
Not to be outdone, mum approached Rowan to make her outfit and this is where Rowan's creativity was allowed to be let loose. She created a stunning trouser suit all in silk with digitally printed fabric from BeFab Be Creative. My mother and sister looked absolutely stunning and I have never felt so amazing. we would whole heartedly reccomend.
SOME OF OUR FAVOURITES
Our beautiful photographers, The Hendrys, were absolute gems and the coolest cats around. They helped us create memories we will cherish forever! There were just too many to chose from but here are some of our favourites from the rest. A massive thanks to everyone that was involved in our wedding, everyone that attended, everyone that sent their well wishes and a huge thanks for everyone's kindness and generosity. Outside of our wedding it has been one of the hardest years of our lives but this definitely was our highlight of 2017 and will always remember it as one of the best days of our lives.