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July 8, 2011

The BRAND NEW vanilla ink website is LIVE!!!

I am so excited to finally show you what all our hard work has been going into. The boys at iGiveADamn , and a little help from their friend Ryan McLeod, have done me proud! I absolutely LOVE it and definitely captures the feel of Vanilla Ink!

The website will grow with Vanilla Ink and in time will have a full community of Jewellers/designers/buyers/creatives…etc! If you fancy joining us over on Vanilla Ink, just register here. You will be given an online profile and will be invited to take part in the forum, where you can join in on conversations or start your own.

Take a look around and find out what Vanilla Ink is all about and I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!

Vanilla Ink xx


Lessons learned…

June 29, 2011

In the lead up to New Designers, I have been thinking about my time at New Designers, a mere four years ago!

In reflection, New Designers was a great experience as it highlighted just how unprepared I was. You spend four years of your life submersed in your studies, maybe deterring now and again for a few beverages. But it wasn’t the ‘real’ world. I don’t believe university prepared me for that (I also don’t think I took the opportunity to find out for myself what the ‘real world’ was like). Yeah it taught me a few life skills, a few social skills, but it certainly did not prepare me for ‘real life.’

In fourth year, you are completely caught up in your degree show, nothing is more important than it. Not your dissertation, not any future plans, just degree show, the there and then. Looking back, I was definitely one of those students with just my degree show blinkers on and my head buried in the sand.

Little did I know that by working hard on your degree show doesn’t necessarily get you very far. I’m not saying that if you don’t do well that you will get far. There is so much more involved, your degree certainly is not something you can rest on.

Being in new designers, you are put in front of a completely different audience, an audience that has never seen your work before, that don’t know who you are. Your wok is stripped back to it’s bare bones and is there to be judged. The people you meet or the people that seem interested, it is your chance to share a little part of you. To give them your ‘elevator pitch’ who you are, what you are about in such a short space of time.

New Designers was eye opening, but at the time it felt like a waste of time. I didn’t get any exhibitions, I didn’t have retailers interested, no one bought my work. But for me it was a lesson, but a lesson is just as valuable. Being able to make jewllery can only get you so far. Being able to talk about your work, being able to write about work are also essential skills to have in your tool box. Knowing your customers and understanding demographics, how to sell and brand yourself are all incredibly valuable skills that will give you the better understanding of your profession and how to fit into it.

Being able to talk about your work, being able to write about work are also essential skills to have in your tool box.

At New Designers I was short listed for new designer of the year, a prestigious award, however, what let me down greatly was the fact that I did not know how to talk about my work. I caved under the pressure of trying to tell a complete stranger what my work was about. No one had ever challenged me throughout my course. It was never built into us that we actually had to be able to talk about our work too.

What I tried to stress to this years jewellery graduates was that your jewellery does speak a thousand words but you have the opportunity to interact with this new audience. Sell yourself! Articulate your work, give it the justice it deserves.

I wish everyone luck, not only in New Designers, but with all their next steps after university :-)

New Designers opens TODAY:

Business Design Centre

Islington, London.

Part One: 29th-2nd July

Part Two: 6th-9th July

Jessica Ruth Howarth

June 17, 2011

Jess’  degree show at Duncan of Jordanstone was a burst of colour and vibrancy! Her little sculptures with hidden treasures were adorable.


Inspiration was taken from her travels to india and the thing that Jess grasped was the colour. Amazing depth and fantastical colours that decorate India, Jess managed to capture! Even her models amaze me!

Her idea was to create an indian street scene and with her tiny little structures.

The element of surprise lingered amongst her pieces. As they stand Jess’ work are beautifully made, enameled sculptures. And what lingered inside and integrated into the design were a pair of earrings that nestled in a shack. Or a ring that played a part in the tin roof. Or a necklace that lay exposed within a window of a house.


At first glance you would presume that Jess has not made any jewellery but instead opted for the metalwork side of the course. However, Jess has combined many elements and techniques that make her quirky designs turn into something very wearable. In fact the sculptures were actually elaborate stands for the jewellery.

Playful and unique, Jess’ degree show was one of the highlights of the show!


Jess’ plans for the future:

Exhibiting at New Designers 29th-2nd July

Exhibiting at ‘New Faces’ , Leith Gallery, February 2012


Jess is heading back to Edinburgh and is applying for the Designer in Residence in Edinburgh College of Art.


June 15, 2011



Sunday the 19th June see’s Westfest’s BIG SUNDAY and I am taking part in it.



Situated on the beautiful Magdalene Green and fingers crossed for some sunshine, it is bound to be a great day out!


So many things happening that will keep everyone entertained, live music, beer tent, food stalls, storytelling, bouncy castle, face painting, and craft and retail stalls, where you will find me!


Myself and my sister will be sharing a stall. Hannah will be selling vintage/retro clothes and accessories and I will be selling my jewellery!


This is a new venture and a new audience for my work so fingers crossed it will be a fantastic day!!


Hope to see you there! Kicks off at 12.30-8pm!

Helen Jewellery

June 14, 2011

Next on the agenda is Helen Chalmers! Helen is another student from Duncan of Jordanstone! Her degree show was a couple of weeks ago and this is what she was up to.

Helen is someone you might recognise if you follow my blog. Helen’s illustrations have featured here before, but it’s a first for her jewellery.

Helen has let her Edinburgh roots slowly influence her jewellery. Taking the urban decay of buildings, places, environments (especially graveyards) and translating it into little feasts for the eyes. She then began noticing the beauty in abandoned buildings and structures around her.

” I know a lot of people believe abandoned factories and graffiti to be ‘an eyesore’, but really, I think it just shows its weathered and alive in a way. Weeds grow, spray paint adds colour, peeling paint and cracks in the wall add texture. This is the feeling I want to capture in my work.”

Helen started to play around with materials in 3rd/4th year where she discovered glass! Playing with colour, texture and form, Helen worked to create pieces that transformed her sketches into the physical.

“My work is concerned with the fragility of neglected urban environments.”

I’m so glad Helen found a way to incorporate her illustrations into her work. I love the way that Helen draws, I’m always attracted to sketchy, inky drawings.

Helen has perfected lampworking glass! So much so she set up her own etsy shop in the midst of her studies. Helen must have her business head screwed on. Whilst working on her degree show she has already got her foot in the door for when she finishes. A clever move!


Helen’s Plans for the Future:

Exhibiting at New Designers

29th-2nd July

Up-Coming collaborative exhibition in Edinburgh


Find her on Facebook:


Buy her stuff:

Helen will be moving to Edinburgh in September where she will continue working on her glass in her amazing little workshop space and is looking to see her work in many galleries and retail spaces. So keep your eyes peeled :)

Kerrianne Flett

June 13, 2011

Kerrianne is a long way from home but for the past four years she has been subjected to Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone Art College. A couple of weeks ago saw her time come to an end, and what better way to conclude her studies with an owe inspiring degree show!

I have to be honest, Kerrianne is the one student that surprised me. I had no idea what she was planning for her degree show and if I look back to what she was working on in third year, I was expecting to see a paper filled show.

Paper it was not! It was an exhibition that was thought provoking and inspiring!

Kerrianne’s work ‘focusses on the process’. A phrase that rings true in my ears! She looked at an approach that would set her boundaries and focus for her own design process.


Kerrianne worked with sand timers that she had hand crafted. The sand laid out a boundary of time for the sketching process. The sand then turned into a raw product for her outcomes. Castings were made and transformed into final pieces.


The results were rings and bowls that were just so beautiful and raw.


I came away from Kerrianne’s exhibition thinking about the design process. It can be instantaneous! You can give yourself boundaries. Time doesn’t have to a factor. You don’t have to linger over a design for hours/weeks on end. Something amazing can come from a drawing in a minute!

Kerrianne will be exhibiting at New Designers 29th-2nd of July. London is going to love her work! She has already been featured on the Craft Council’s blog!

Kerrianne’s earlier work will also be featured in the new Saloukee book on paper jewellery and will be released in November this year.

Kerrianne’s Blog:

If you’re ever in Orkney, go say hello to Kerrianne :)







Roisin Connolly

June 8, 2011

Next to be reviewed is the wonderful Roisin Connolly.

Roisin hails from St Andrews and she has spent the last three years studying at Duncan of Jordanstone college of art submersed in the world of jewellery.

Roisin’s degree show was a narrative tale of travels, experiences and memories.

Roisin’s jewellery contains subtle reminders to act as triggers to spark those once forgotten (or pushed to the back of the mind) memories that contain wonderful thoughts of the cities hidden treasures, sights, good times, friends and family.

Roisin is trying to capture moments in a different form, from the likes of a diary or photo album. More like a visualisation, tactile, tangible object that contains a hidden treasure. Something to touch and feel, hold in your hand.

Memories are often locked away and are only sparked when faced with something that acts a trigger. Having something that you can wear or that you can have on show that acts as a conversation piece. A conversation that will open up those memories.

Roisin’s story tells of her travels, her experiences. Things that she wants to remember, from a friend stuffing her face with a sandwhich to the ‘Golden Baby’ in Africa. An story that might not seem obvious to the onlooker but to the wearer it holds many wonderful times. Wonderful times that she can now share.

“It highlights the beauty in what some people may no longer see the beauty of.”

I love narrative jewellery! I enjoy the fact that for one person the jewellery could mean something to one person and then for the story to change for someone else. Roisin has captured this essence perfectly! By using imagery that means something to one person and captures a story. Intricate trinkets the hold a lifetime of memories just seems magical to me!

If you fancy seeing your stories transformed into something beautiful Roisin is taking commissions and you can watch the magic be captured. Below you can see the making of a brooch, capturing a beautiful street view in St Andrews. Roisin mainly uses a technique called photoetching. Where a photo is etched onto silver using acid which leaves an impression in the metal. A technique that I am particularly fond of. It’s a beautiful process (that can be temperamental) and leaves you with a piece of metal that captures an image almost feather-like. As a keen photographer, Roisin’s photographs are translated beautifully and encapsulates the memories held.

Roisin’s Plans for the Future:

Exhibiting at New Designers 29th-2nd July

Exhibiting at ‘New Faces’ in Leith Gallery Feb 2012


Roisin is heading Edinburgh bound and is applying for the Designer in Residence at Edinburgh College of Art.

Good Luck Roisin :)