Friday, 27 May 2011

Interview with Rachel Lucie-Johns

Rachel Lucie Johns is the jewellery designer behind Rachel Lucie Designs.  Her enchanting work has been seen in some very exciting places and she will be exhibiting in the Main Room of Victoria Hall throughout the Arts Trail. Rachel will be happy to talk to you about herself and her work in person this weekend but here's a sneaky preview into her inspiration and life.

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

I make vintage-inspired silver jewellery using semi-precious stone beads, freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystal using wirework.I have also started to use gold-filled components in my designs.

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

I work from home, from a VERY tiny home office. My view is amazing across the valley in Hebden Bridge. This constantly inspires me and distracts me in equal measure! I do relish having my own, all be it small, space to work from, as I have 2 small children, and it's bliss being able to leave out unfinished work and tools etc without having to clear everything away every time I need to do something else. I do think when the kids are older, working in a creative environment like a studio space with other artists might be a good move, but currently this suites me as I can work around looking after the children and school pick-ups etc. I am the main carer, and we decided that if I could make my job work around them, that would be ideal.

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

Yes, designing and making jewellery is my main job, although involved in making this business    run is photography, photo editing, some basic web design work and marketing, which I do all of as well.

I got started when my youngest was about a year old and I had been a stay at home mum for about 4 years. I think lots of things converged to give me the drive to find something creative to do at that time. Being at home with 2 under 4's can certainly drive you to needing to do something for yourself! I got some birthday money in the spring of 2008 and decided to buy some handmade jewellery, but although there was some gorgeous pieces I found, I couldn't find something that was really me. As I looked around, my childhood love of beaded jewellery, silver and geology kind of entwined itself as I just got the urge to buy some beads and dive right in! I started getting ideas for jewellery for myself, but within a month I had decided I would do all I could to make it my career to design and make beaded jewellery! It sounds funny, but I had so many ideas, and lots of them were for jewellery that wasn't for me – my creativity was unleashed.

What work will you be exhibiting at the Saltaire Arts Trail?

I will be exhibiting some of all my current Summer jewellery collections, which are Songs of the Sea, Botanica, Forever Pearl, Vintage Wedding and Inspired.

Do you work in any other mediums besides the work you will be exhibiting at the Arts Trail?

I am only working in silver and gold-filled at the moment. I am enjoying photography as much as the jewellery making, but it's not something I have yet persued professionally as yet.

Where else can we see and buy your work?

Heart Gallery, Hebden Bridge,
Pyramid Gallery, York,
Shire Hall Gallery, Stafford,
soon to be at the Solo Gallery, Sheffield and Royal Exchange, Manchester
Online on my website and Etsy also Notonthehighstreet too.

Tell us about your most exciting or memorable commission?

I was asked to make a Chanel-inspired necklace based on the one worn by Keira Knightly in the Coco Mademoiselle advert photograph. It's a real statement necklace with large pearls, opulent belcher chain and Swarovski crystal stars. I loved making it, and my client was really happy with it, she's worn it out a lot!
It's always a real honour to be asked to make something unique for a bride on her wedding day A lot of my pearl collection lends itself to weddings, but to make something the bride herself is wonderful. I have had some commissions for bespoke statement earrings, bracelets and necklaces so far.

What was it about the Saltaire Arts Trail that made you want to apply to exhibit?

It's a very prestigious event. I visited the Makers Fair a couple of years ago and really only dreamed I would be accepted. I went last year to visit and was asked by several people there why I hadn't applied, which was very flattering!

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

The shear size of the event and the diversity of arts on display make it a real must for anyone to visit who loves to support handmade craft, and likes unique products. My only worry this year is that I won't be able to see everything at Victoria Hall properly!

Unfortunately I have never been able to go on the trail itself as I have always had the children with me, but I know it's a wonderful chance to see beautiful crafts in such gorgeous domestic settings. Saltaire is a world heritage site, and the houses are works of art themselves.

Could you leave us with one more interesting fact about yourself or your work?

I was lucky enough to be asked to take part in a Vogue editorial piece last April on pearl jewellery, which was an amazing honour. I also have some of my collection being used in a book trilogy coming out later this year, including I believe a picture of my necklace on the front cover.

Rachel Johns

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