Seven Questions is a section of Newsnibbles where we ask one of our Twitter followers seven questions (duh). Because we do it via email they are free to answer in more that 140 characters, which is nice.
This week we are catching up with @Emma_Swailes who designs unique jewellery and talks to random badgers on Twitter, both of which are nice…
1. Your collections are really imaginative, what made you come up with the idea?
I like to play on the British stereotype of a nation obsessed by weather small talk, cups of tea and sea side trips to the coast. I love how everywhere I go I hear the safe but fun topic of how bizarre the weather is in this country. Everyone talks about it: no one is happy about it!
When the Olympics came to us in 2012, the opening parade was awash with brollies as the athletes of the world paraded with their teams displayed across an umbrella! I loved that, it would only happen in Britain.
I also have a fascination with memories and keeping them safe. Imagine how we would become ourselves if we didn’t have a past. My history is so precious to me, and I find my house filled with keep sakes and knickknacks that are reminders of special days I had with my ma, getting wet in the rain on a day trip out! They are most likely worthless pieces of manmade junk, chip forks from the chippy stuck in a scrap book, or shells and rocks collected from the beach. However, their job of connecting my mind to the past is like a thread running through time. They help me pin point that moment that I could easily forget as my mind fills with memory of each passing day.
2. What is involved in creating a commission?
I first meet up (if possible) with my customer and discuss what they are after. I often ask them to bring pictures of things they like, not necessary of jewellery but of anything, buildings, art, shapes…anything that they find pleasing to the eye that I can see a pattern in. I then have a brain storm and a sketch of things that might be what they are looking for. It is really important to keep them involved in every step of the way. We chip away at the aspects they like/dislike and I pare it down to a final design. I tend to meet them again before the making begins to get confirmation that it is what they are looking for and that they like it. Most of my customers know exactly what they want and so this process is a fast one.
I had a client recently whose mum wanted me to make her a special set of jewellery for her 21st. The daughter had no idea what she wanted, so I had to tease ideas out of her mind. It was like fishing in the dark at first, but we both came up with a gradual direction and I ended up designing her a 3 piece set based on her star sign. It was quite a cool commission, with a fantastic, unexpected outcome. It’s a bit like getting a beautifully wrapped gift, and then waiting to open it to see what’s inside without guessing!
3.We have noticed you have a “Robo Cat” range, but a lot of our readers are dogs, what can you do for them?
I have been thinking about this recently, I believe the Robocat needs a fellow superhero dog to call on when the mission gets tough. They couldn’t be in the same team though, they would fight like, well…cat and dog! Joking aside, I think it will be more of a challenge to get a front facing robot looking dog face, as a dog’s side profile is what makes the dog look like a dog! Plus there are many Robot Dogs in the world already, I must not be influenced too much by them. My design style has a certain look and feel to it that I am keen to keep running through my pieces. But watch this space!
4. What made you decide to become a jewellery designer, what advice would you give to someone starting out?
I originally wanted to be a furniture designer. I knew after leaving school and starting Art College I particularly loved designing and making in crafts. All the courses that were craft based seemed to be about furniture making, and so I went with the flow. I did a National Diploma in Furniture Crafts that naturally progressed into a degree course. However, although I worked hard I was no good at it and ultimately failed it 3 years later. I searched for things to do as I really needed a degree and remembered I had enjoyed several taster summer school sessions in silver smiting and jewellery design. I have always been covered in bling, from wearing plastic silver as a 4 year old up to my current 30+ piercings and ring stacking, so it made sense. 3 years later I got my degree and I knew jewellery designing was my career choice. Though it took me until my mid-20s to work it out. My advice would be don’t stress about figuring out what you want to do in life as soon as you finish your education. It’s ok to take a while to figure it out. Failing at something feels horrid but it will definitely benefit you in your future, you will learn greatly from it. If you fall flat on your face, you are still moving forward!
5. Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired and influence by popular culture of recent history. The Robocats were influenced by a mixture of RoboCop, The Wrong Trousers and 90s superhero cartoons I watched as a nipper. I find my mind animates ideas a little like a Dali painting and Monti Python, not good when you are trying to sleep! I love comedians such as Morecambe and Wise with their silly gags and direct camera stares. Life has to have a sense of fun present whenever possible, as does my work.
Massive structures with hidden parts and a beautiful movement such as the Falkirk Boat Bridge make me stare with amazement. Whiles on holiday in Scotland a few years ago I spent a whole day visiting the bridge just staring up going ‘wow amazing’ every 10 seconds, best day out ever. It inspired me in my jewellery design university course.
Jewellery designer wise, I love Alan Ardiff, Becki Crow and Agnieszka Maksymi with their miniature details, narrative landscapes and humorous designs. Their work is beautiful and marvellous.
6. Pet Couture, pro or con?
You’re asking a woman who designs Robocats if Pet Couture is a con!? No way! I think it’s awesome to have your dashing Dalmatian supporting a stripy tie, or a top cat in a rather fetching top hat! I believe there is a limit though, you can go too far! Those dogs being pushed around in baby buggies, with a dummy in their mouths…now that’s just bonkers! They have got 4 legs people, let them use them!
I however have 3 pet snakes. They are all female, but with lacking arms, legs and torso it is a mission to try dress a snake up in a fancy costume or sassy accessories…though I have never tried….hmmmmm!
7. Come up with a song title that describes your style (did you really think it would be that easy?!)
This question I love, I have never been asked this before. Strangely I have an answer in mind.
“There’s nawt like a bit of fun with the narrative”
And you can find Emma on the web as well as Twitter by following the links below:
And if you’d like to answer 7 Questions, then give us a Tweet.