Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Interview with Leigh Shepherd

Leigh Shepherd is a contemporary jewellery designer. She is an extremely busy lady running her booming business and home but managed to find time to talk to us about her participation in the Makers' Fair.

Tell us about the work you do and the types of materials you use.

I have a passion for upcycling and collecting unusual papers so I have brought this together, along with some lovely resin to create my jewellery range. It's probably worth explaining here the difference between recycling and upcycling. Both terms refer to a way of reusing an item recycling is the process of reusing an item without changing its original form eg. melting down glass bottles to make bottles. Upcycling is another processes of reusing, but in this instance changing the purpose or use of the initial material and as a result adding value. I make pendants from wooden Scrabble pieces and mah jong tiles, brooches from draughts and domino pieces and earrings from sixpence pieces.

Where do you produce your work? Does your working environment form part of the inspiration for your art?

I'm based in Haworth, West Yorkshire, so not so far from Saltaire. Both my husband and I work from home which fits in really well with our lifestyle. Years back I aspired to a rented studio somewhere but working from home works so well! Our children are young so my working hours don't fit the usual 9 to 5. As my business has grown I've gone from working from a folding table in the lounge to converting a room into my workshop.

Is your art your main job? How did you get started?

I began selling my work in local galleries about three years ago. It’s in the last six months that it has become full time.

Where else can we see and buy your work?

I stock around 25 outlets nationally from the British Museum to the Isle of Lewis. One of the first galleries I approached to sell my work is right across the street from Victoria Hall. Art Parade has been selling my work for a good while now. Beverley, the owner, has been a huge support and has given me lots of advice and encouragement.

Have you participated or visited the Saltaire Arts Trail before? What is unique about it and how does it differ from other events?

This year will be the fourth time I have taken part in the Makers' Fair. It’s a fantastic event, Victoria Hall is a gorgeous venue! The thing that really makes this event stand out is the visitors, the Arts Trail has a great reputation so people come ready to find something new, they are interested in what we do and know they will find something special. Besides exhibiting we have often visited the Arts Trail as a family, the kids have a great time, in the past we have visited the Garden of Easels and fished in the knitted river - which to the uninitiated may sound strange but was great fun!

Thanks so much to Leigh, you can learn more about her work on her website Leigh Shepherd Designs. and meet her in person at the Makers' Fair in Victoria Hall on 28th, 29th and 30th May.

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