Hello, my name is Lois. I’m the colourful mind behind Lois Jane Jewellery and I’m taking over the Vanilla Ink blog (for one night only)!
So, I suppose you will want to know a little bit about me, let’s see… I hail from Banff on the North-East coast of Aberdeenshire. Coincidentally, Banff is the same wee town Vanilla Ink have opened a beautiful sister studio, The Smiddy. When I was 18, I’d had enough of rural life and decided to escape to the furthest away university that accepted me, which happened to be the world-renowned School of Jewellery in Birmingham. I loved my time in Brum, it’s a home from home for me now. I struggled throughout university to find my creative ‘voice’, perhaps I may have enjoyed Birmingham’s buzzing night life to my studies… but, luckily, in my final year everything clicked. I started experimenting with enamel on steel and I haven’t looked back since.
My 2017 Graduate Collection consisted of welded steel cages, which gained some acclaim and I was lucky enough to be considered one of the world’s top 100 graduates and my work was exhibited in Gallery Marzee’s International Graduate Show (the pieces are still there if you’re ever in Holland). I then went on to have a focus show about my work at Studio Fusion in London. It was a bit of a wild time to say the least! I moved back to Glasgow in September 2017 to start a residency at the Glasgow School of Art.
I spent a lot of early 2018 making cages for varying exhibitions and shows but had no idea what I’d do when I lost access to the expensive machinery I needed to make them or how to make my jewellery into a business. I had completely lost confidence in myself - what if I couldn’t make anything better than those cages!?
That’s when I took the plunge and applied for the Vanilla Ink INKubator. The deadline had been extended, it was a second chance – call it fate if you like. I was so nervous when we had our first official meeting as a group. I’d met Kate for 30 seconds at New Designers the summer before... did she remember me? I never found out the answer, but the nerves melted as soon as I stepped int he School. Last January, prior to applying to Vanilla Ink, I was still trying to become settled in Glasgow and was considering packing up and going back to Birmingham. Getting into the Vanilla Ink programme is what kept me in this great city.
As the months flew by we all became closer, I looked forward to seeing the whole group two, sometimes three times a month. Glasgow started to become home. I did the full programme, which meant 24 hr access to the Vanilla Ink Jewellery School. It’s an amazing space and I loved calling it my home for 9 months. I’ve now moved into the studio next door – Kate and Scott just can’t seem to shake me off!
So, what was my favourite thing about the Vanilla Ink Programme? There’s a lot to choose from, so much happened over the 9 months. My confidence grew when we started the Skills Development sessions with Scott, my making skills have vastly improved and it was wonderful to learn a mixture of more fine skills to complement my contemporary style. Scott also helped me build up confidence in myself. I have moderate/severe dyspraxia and that comes with some heavy spatial awareness issues and low self-esteem. Scott also has dyspraxia and it was nice to not feel so alone and have someone understand the things I struggle with. It’s also magical to see someone make such beautiful things, right in front of your eyes! My mentor Gilly Langton was wonderful, I cried for half an hour after our first session because she was so inspiring and we just seemed to click. It was the first time I had spoken to someone about my own personal goals and ideas and have them keep me grounded yet inspired. She never made me feel as if I couldn’t achieve my dreams. I looked forward to our monthly calls and now miss speaking to her so regularly.
This time last year I would have laughed at someone if they had told me “by October you’re going to have a business plan” but low and behold, I have one and it’s pretty good – better than I could have imagined. The whole programme sets you up and gives you the skills to create your plan. At the end, you present it in front of a panel. We were made aware that there would be a £700 Visual Identity Award given by Vanilla Ink to one lucky inker. That inker was me. How scary is it to present your business plan to a panel? Petrifying! I had the unenviable task of going first, to make matters worse. However, the panel were supportive and engaging. My nerves began to melt away the more I became aware that I did know what I wanted and what I had learned over the past nine months fell into place. The panel seemed pleasantly surprised that I, the disorganised dyspraxic, had pulled it off. I have a plan and I’m sticking to it – mostly. The beautiful thing you learn is, plans change and it’s ok.
Who’s creating this fantastic new visual identity, I hear you cry? I lucked out with this award - I get to work with Bethany at Stark Studio. She produced all the visuals for our end of year show, Perpetual. If you missed it, unlucky, it was one of the most beautiful shows I’ve been part of! At the end of this month, all the information Bethany has managed to gather about me and my brand will be collected and used to give Lois Jane Jewellery a fresh lick of paint. We’ve already discussed a new logo and a photoshoot… but who knows what else will happen!
Images by Karina Patten
What have I been up to since Vanilla Ink? I became a main exhibitor at Dazzle, a showcase of contemporary jewellery that happens twice a year. I also taught my first ever lecture at Nottingham Trent University. I soon realised that standing in front of a panel of 5 was nothing compared to 30 or so students! I’m delighted to be going back down to Nottingham in 2019 to teach some lectures about enamelling. Over Christmas I had a break and took some time to get sketching a new collection. You’ll soon be able to purchase Lois Jane Jewellery at The Smiddy in Banff, I’ll also be heading up there to work and show off my enamelling skills. I’ve come into 2019 with some fresh ideas and can’t thank Vanilla Ink enough for showing me that I can create without a welder and that I can turn my contemporary jewellery into a serious(ly fun) business.
Our INKubator Programme is open for applications, deadline closes midnight January 27th. Download our guidelines and criteria for more information or please drop us a line if you have any questions.