Interview with Boo’s Jewellery
Boo’s work is exceptionally well crafted and combines various different skills from start to finish to produce work that is distinctive, classic as well as novel. The care and time taken over every process from making the jewellery down to the minute detail, to taking the photographs and describing her work is amazing.
Who are you?
Boo. Just Boo. That’s not the name my parents gave me of course and my mother heartily disapproves of me using it, but my profession makes it necessary. I’m a woman of a certain age, married for 26 years, with a 21 year old hairy beast of a son away at university.
What do you do in your spare time other than craft?
Spare time . . . spare time . . . nope, don’t know what that is. If I had any, I’d spend it looking at trees in the Lake District, or mooching about with my camera trying to locate the treecreeper or wren I could hear. Photography has been my other passion for most of my life and combining that with being out in the fresh air, preferably near water and trees, would be my ideal way to spend time. I love photographing wildlife, but wish I were both better at it and could afford the equipment to do it justice.
Please tell us a little bit about what you make.
I hand craft jewellery – not fine precious pieces, but modestly priced everyday jewellery. I don’t have a particular style or niche – I have way too many ideas circulating in my head waiting to be given life, to pin my work down to one genre. But I like working with glass, crystal and semi-precious beads – wire wrapped predominantly, I rarely string beads. I like working with polymer clay too – you can soon lose several days absorbed in that work, once it takes hold. I love taking raw metal and bashing it into something too.
What do you enjoy making most?
I like forming things from scratch in copper and silver especially. Once you start applying pressure and heat to raw materials – rather like in my son’s field of geology, that’s when it gets really interesting.
I love the whole process of taking a length of heavy gauge wire and making it into something to wear – giving it a shape, then texture, maybe some adornment with stones, then finally choosing the colour – I love oxidising, then polishing it back to bring out texture – I call that antiquing – it takes raw materials and makes them look more finished.
What part of jewellery making do you dislike the most?
Without any hesitation; photographing items, measuring them, writing descriptive text and putting them on my various on-line selling outlets. It’s tedious beyond words. Considering how much I love photography, I actually hate photographing items and working on the photos. It seems to take a disproportionately long time and never feels like a very good use of my time. But it’s a necessary evil.
What are your main inspirations for making a piece?
Just things around me. A shape will catch my eye, colour combinations. Two bottles of shower gel in the bathroom yesterday were catching the light and the colours were gorgeous together – one was purple and I’d had some lovely dark amethyst beads arrive this week, so I searched out something in the other colour to put them together.
The natural world is always an inspiration – it should be to everyone – and being outdoors is very important to me. Mother nature is the ultimate designer – nothing we can do can improve on her work, so I let her lead by example. Doing some gardening a few days ago and clearing leaves, I loved the colours and textures, so I mixed some gold and copper metallic polymer clay, rolled it into thin sheets and took imprints of some of the leaves.
Do you plan out your designs or do you get stuck in straight away when inspiration strikes?
I rarely plan things – the ideas just come out and I work them immediately – or if I can’t, I keep a little notebook with me and sketch them down to work later.
Sometimes I have an idea that needs some thought to make it work physically – I might start with a doodle – every sheet of paper around my computer is covered in squiggled shapes as I try and hone a wrap shape – or work out how to form a particular shape from one piece of wire etc. Sometimes I pick up scrap materials and work it out physically – and sometimes just making a piece shows up the flaw in my design and that ‘prototype’ makes way for an improved version.
What are you currently making?
I always have many pieces in various stages of completion in progress. Some work needs appropriate light in a place, being able to work outdoors (oxidising), or hammering sounds, which may not be good later in the day. So I have a multitude of things on the go – some of which are easy to pick up for a few minutes waiting for a pan to boil and others don’t need much space and I can work at the table with my after dinner coffee. So I always have many assorted pieces in progress.
I almost always have some chainmaille in progress – I need very little space to work and only 2 pairs of pliers, so that’s what I turn to when I have a few minutes to kill or even when on the move. I often take a case with some materials and my tools with me.
Do you make custom orders?
Yes, indeed. At present, it accounts for about half of my sales. Certainly last year, before I got my web site better organised and settled on a cart format, I only really had photos of completed work on-line, so most sales were private commissions and even now, many pieces sell with some modification.
People might like one design, but the colour/stone of another, so ask for their own variant. With pieces that are easily repeatable, I note it in the product description – I’d hate to lose a sale because people didn’t realise how easily something could be made for them. Some customers really like the idea that they can have just what they want made. It’s an important marketing approach for me.
Even at craft fairs, where it is possible and I have stock to hand, I can make pieces to order. There hasn’t been a fair yet where I didn’t make something new for a customer.
Where can we buy your work?
My own web site is http://www.boo-jewellery.co.uk/ and I also have shops on Etsy and Folksy; http://www.boojewels.etsy.com/ and http://www.boojewels.folksy.com/ I also attend craft fairs and markets periodically.