During the course of 2018, we ran our flagship INKubator Programme for the very first time in our current home at The Hidden Lane in Finnieston. Now streamlined and benefitting from several years experience, it ended up being a triumph all round with fantastic results. We had seven incredibly talented INKers sail through Professional & Skills Development, mentoring sessions, Meet the Maker evenings and much, much more for nine whole months, soaking up all the knowledge and information we fed them.
Nearer the end of the Programme, Scott and I decided we didn’t want the journey to end for one of the INKers and developed a new role within Vanilla Ink - our INKer in Residence Programme.
The INKer in Residence will be with us for another whole year (Oct-Oct), benefiting from 24-hour access to the school, full use of all our tools and equipment, with further skills training sessions with Scott thrown in, too. As well as all that, we’ve paired them up with Helen Voce for monthly mentoring sessions. A creative machine, Helen’s talents are wide and varied, being an independent project manager, a programme and event producer, and a supporter of creative people and creative industries. The Resident will also get to take part in our 2019 Meet the Maker talks, with a chance to exhibit at the end of the Programme along with our 2019 INKers. In return, we’ve asked for three hours a week teaching and assisting with our classes, which gives the Resident vital teaching experience.
We would like to take this chance to introduce you to our first INKer in Resident in our Glasgow home… (drum roll) Ashley Lovie of Behind Bracken! We are so excited to continue working with Ashley, things have already gotten off to a great start as she has found a new calling in life - teaching!
VI - So you’re the first Inker in Residence in our brand new jewellery school, how does it feel?
A - It feels great! I did the full INKer Programme last year and love being in the school. Excited to be able to spend another year working from it and building on my craft.
VI - Why do you think we invited you to be our resident?
A - Possibly because you knew it would be hard to get rid of me anyway??!
Seriously though, I’d like to think it’s because you know how serious I am about growing my business and how beneficial it would be for me to continue doing this within the school. I also have always wanted to get teaching experience and Vanilla Ink is the perfect place to start this from.
I’d say I’m a pretty cheerful person to have round the workshop and I also bake really great vegan cinnamon rolls which is always a winner (it was this reason she got the role really, everyone knows the way to Scott and I’s heart!)
VI - Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work (a wee bit about what you did for your degree and your journey to where you are now).
A - I studied at Gray’s School of Art years ago and specialised in Jewellery, but after graduating I had no idea how to go about continuing my practice, so I decided to travel for a bit and ended up living in New Zealand for a couple of years. It took a while after moving home to Scotland to come full circle back to working with metal again but once I did, it just felt right. Having been away from the bench for so long, my confidence in my skill set was really low so I contacted Vanilla Ink about taking part in their Summer School Revision Course. From there I decided to take this seriously, applied for the Programme and here I am!
My work is delicate and designed to be mixed, matched and layered to create an individual jewellery uniform. Inspiration for my work ranges through myth, memory and the celestial.
VI - How did you find the Vanilla Ink Programme?
A - I loved it. It was hard work in ways that I hadn’t anticipated but I learnt so much that will apply to my business consistently moving forward, and I would say it has been instrumental in me being able to dream and plan to take Behind Bracken forward. It’s also been really great to work alongside the other INKers and create our own supportive community.
VI - What would you say to someone thinking about applying?
A - Just go for it. I was worried that my business wasn’t developed enough to apply but the Professional Development is tailored so it would work with a start-up business at any stage. Really glad I pushed myself to go for it.
VI - What do you plan to do within your residency at Vanilla Ink?
A - During my residency, I’ll be teaching beginners which I’m really excited about. I really enjoy seeing all the different ideas that they come up with and their satisfaction when they turn their ideas into something tangible.
I also get a new mentor which will be great. I had a mentor throughout the INKer Programme (the wonderful Katie Lees Jewellery) and it was invaluable in terms of getting advice and perspective from someone who is successful in their field, and for being held accountable to small monthly goals that I set myself. Looking forward to seeing where this years mentorship takes me.
But overall, I feel like last year provided a solid foundation for my business, so this year will be about growing on that.
VI - What are you looking forward to most with your extra year in Vanilla Ink?
A - I’m really looking forward to building my skill set in one-to-one training with Scott. The year I spent in the Programme was a bit of a discovery year for me in terms of where I want my business to be- so I’m excited to start refining more specialist skills in order to get there.
VI - What’s been your biggest learning curve and what one bit of advice would you give to someone pursuing a career in jewellery making?
A - For me, my biggest learning curve was learning to view Behind Bracken as a business instead of a hobby, and also as a separate entity to myself.
Advice... ask ALL the questions. I was really surprised at how open and supportive other makers are, so definitely worth asking the questions and reaching out to make new connections. Community is everything in this industry, so I feel very fortunate that Vanilla Ink is able to provide a good place to start this from.
VI - What do you do to switch off?
A - Either taking my dog out to the beach, my favourite around Edinburgh is the one near Tyninghame. Or reading, I’ll pretty much read anything! Favourites from 2018 include Normal People by Sally Rooney.
VI - Finally, what’s your favourite tool?
A - Not the most exciting choice but I treated myself to a tube cutting vice before Christmas and it has totally saved my fingers!
Thank you so much Ashley for taking time out to introduce yourself to everyone! We honestly can’t wait to see what this year brings for you!
Applications are now open for the 2019 Vanilla INKubator Programme with the deadline midnight 27th January. Please download our guidelines and criteria for full information but do get in touch if you have any questions.