OK. I’ve been spending a while thinking about the advice I would give rapt and interested would-be jewellery designers should they ask for it…

Blogs seem to be for stuff like this so here we go. If you want to be a jewellery designer, here is a by no means exhaustive list of tips.

 

1. Pen and paper. Always. Everywhere. It used to be a case of remembering to take your camera. But you have that, it’s on your phone. So the next step is ensuring that you can do the fancy stuff like writing notes and doing sketches.

The ideas will come but usually at an unfair time. I tend to have my breakthroughs when doing something else that is totally unrelated and completely urgent or standing in a queue or just about to drop off to sleep.

If you are more tech leaning then there are apps that can just about fill the gap of a pen and paper when you are used to them. But come on. A pack of post-its and a biro… That’s so much more sexy.

 

2. When you have had the ideas….organise them. This coming from me is hilarious. There are bits and bobs of my work dotted about everywhere… but getting your sketched notes annotated and redrawn if necessary and into a notebook (another great feature of the humble post-it) or scanned and into well labeled soft folders for use is vital. Otherwise that sketching wasn’t design at all. It was litter manufacture. And that helps no one.

 

3. DON’T ERASE OR OBLITERATE. INSTEAD COPY PIECE, COVER OR FADE ERRORS OUT, AND WORK OVER. Here’s a story. In the dim past, I started working on a comic book called Smallfish with a guy. I was not at all confident and I hadn’t even thought of anything art based as a career. I drew out that damned cover about 12 times. I went wrong, even a bit and I binned it. I was later mocked for not using sticky labels to cover the error and draw over. So simple. A pro trick. So much easier in this aged of advanced tech.

The method = Like it? > Save it. Hate it? > Archive a copy of it, cover the bad bits, replace with different bits, ask again.

And I found my title logo. I am rather proud of this.

smallfish

Post-it notes. Even then.

 

4. Look at what’s out there. Notice what makes you angry. If “bad” design makes you angry, you’re likely to be passionate enough to make a decent fist of things. There are a few things that niggle me every time I see them. They get to me because it is lazy design, or it’s not generous, or it’s just not design at all.

  • an identical form, scaled up or down to form a different thing. Like when there’s a flock of birds and bird 1 is a bigger version of bird 4 and 2 is a slightly rotated 3. Was it so hard to draw them? Or are you rationed (limited) to drawing only 2 bird shapes in your life? The wallpaper in my mum’s last house drove me crazy. It had 2 birds on it (always birds!) The designer had designed the second bird by taking the head from the first, flipping it and sticking it back on its body. To hate drawing that much…. wow. They got paid too much for that. Even if they weren’t paid.
  • identical earrings used as pairs. Designers so lazy that they can’t even be bothered to flip an image. I hate that.
  • hollowed out work. Cheaper to manufacture. Transparent greed. That’s the only reason it’s done. I see Absolutely Zero Excuse for it because the weight of a piece is one of its qualities. Weight in a larger piece is soothing and gives its wearer additional pleasure. Pleasure you can hollow out and cash.
  • jewellery that is supposed to resemble something but doesn’t (unless intentional.) Research is such a major part of design that if you can’t be bothered to research, you can’t really be bothered to design.
  • 9ct gold. Sorry.

 

5. JEWELLERS’ TOOLS. Be careful when buying tools… I must have read “you get what you pay for” with regard to jewellers’ tools at least 20 times. That’s right….sort of….sometimes.

Here’s the heads up. There are some tools that will become the bane of your life if you don’t spend out on them. Some that you can’t get (new) without a solid injection of money and some that you can pay a couple of quid for. It has taken YEARS for me to work this list out. Good job I am feeling generous really.

LIST ONE – CHEAP VERSIONS WILL RUIN YOUR LIFE

  • saw-blades
  • flat nose pliers
  • solder (strip – personal hatred of this – I once got a dodgy batch)
  • wet and dry paper
  • vices (OK with serious modification)
  • motorised drills
  • drillbits
  • tap and die sets
  • snips
  • large files

LIST TWO – BUY THEM – NOT SURE IF YOU CAN GET THEM CHEAP (make sure that 2nd hand ones are perfect)

  • ring bending and all smooth nosed pliers,
  • doming block and punches
  • long frame saw
  • barrel polisher
  • mandrels (all sizes)
  • burnishers
  • solder paste (all types)
  • polishing compounds
  • needle files

LIST THREE – BUY CHEAP – PERFECT JUST AS THEY ARE

  • most textured pliers
  • hammers
  • centre punches
  • steel rulers
  • gas
  • beeswax
  • ring measuring tools
  • regular saw frames (as long as the blade clamps work – ideally get an adjustable one)
  • lighters
  • alphabet punches
  • tweezers/reverse action tweezers
  • polishing cloths

What do you think of the list? Disagree? Did I miss anything out? I’d love to hear from you! (and yes, I have [just] noticed that list one and list two can be merged together. shush.)

 

6. Talk to people – find out what the humans want! It’s all very well to make stuff you think rocks… but if you never engage in proper, open conversation about it, you will miss out. Recently I have been granted 2 amazing commissions, the first client wanted two pieces in my style but he wanted a different animal. The second wanted a collection of pieces plus a showpiece. The collection requires a different scale from the one thats currently available, and the showpiece is a version of something I have only ever made once before!

Design is wicked fun, but unless you let other people play, it is limited by your imagination and patience. Factor in other people’s desires and it just gets better and better.

By the way, engaging in proper, open conversation requires confidence, both to stand up for but also question your ideas and work. You need to be up to that. Tantrums or deep inner hurt at feedback won’t rub. Please learn that one quickly.

 

7. Time and cash. Right. It’s a ridiculous balancing act you have here. If you are looking to be a sole trader, then your job description is basically one word; Everything.

Give yourself a solid way to make money for rent and bills. If that’s a day job, that’s fine. Actually limiting your “business time” in this way is great. It gives you more business cash by taking care of personal cash, keeps you grounded, reduces stress (well, the type caused by dodgy cash-flow anyway) forces you to socialise and – perhaps most importantly – shows you how much you love design. It also forces you to prioritise like a demon. I would recommend it.

I can’t advise you on family balance. I have a mum and a brother and I make time for them. I also have a strictly structured working day and time off to myself.

You need this structure and the will to stop. Throw yourself at 50 all nighters on the trot and you won’t end up with a sturdy business. You will probably end up sectioned. It’s going to be different for everyone. Married people, people from wealthier families or existing businesses…the pressures will be different but still present….

My tip for organising workload is to be one person in your business a day. I have split my role into 7 disciplines; Management (very similar to admin!), Design, Making, Finance, IT, PR and Sales.

Each day, I work out what my business needs most, and give the day to that. I also have an active and “easy to achieve each tiny step” list on the go in Evernote, always.

 

8. Learn the things. If you can build your website, resize and edit your own photographs, write your own press releases etc etc etc, you are going to be a damn sight more in control and spend a damn sight less than the person who can’t. If you choose to delegate these things later one – or get some horrible thing troubleshot, you will have a clue about the things the grown up will be doing.

I have spoken to so many people who have mentioned the length of time they have to wait to get an image on their site changed. That’s just weird to me.

I would be so frustrated if I weren’t hands on. And I love knowing the magic tricks being done by the people now doing the stuff I used to do…

 

9. Allow yourself to multitask. I honestly haven’t switched my TV on in a year. I’m not one of those people who is proud of that sort of thing – in fact I am slightly appalled to own stuff that I don’t use. Fact is. I listen to comedy while working … I don’t want to do things that prevent me doing other things.

 

10. It’s not not enough that people merely tolerate you. Reserve your affections for those who quietly, brilliantly give a damn about you, your life and your love of your work.

But don’t be hurt if they aren’t as wired about your work as you are. That’s not their job. They love YOU, not the metal…

 

 

 


I am really happy to be bringing back these earrings as a part of my new core collection. The first two people I showed the new pieces to asked me why – Why did I include 2 little silver cats….?

cats mismatched studs

Well people are either dog people or cat people, I guess – and the studs are mismatched, which is a fact that I love…and these were my childhood pets.

At the beginning was the unfortunately named “Licky” (giving me a porn star name of Licky Somers in case you are interested) who ran away to live on a farm….

 

Then came Tabby and her almost-instantly-hit-by-a-car brother Tom.

 

Tabby, (the slightly bigger cat of the cat earring pair) was elegant, intelligent, aloof and happily lived as an only cat for several years until we decided to her horror that she was lonely and introduced Tabby (the slightly smaller cat).

In stark contrast to Tabby, Tammy was a delightful and deranged rodent-like monster. Noisy, cheeky and playful – she was fantastic.

It was like housing The White Witch with a hyperactive toddler.

tabby

tabby

tammy

tammy – helping me to take some photographs…

 

And these mismatched cat earrings are the best I can do for them. I looked around the flat today and the above is the only picture I have of Tammy – being about as sensible as I remember her.

These cat earrings are good to have. For you, they will be easy to wear and have the lovely extra buzz that mismatched pairs bring (I really do love the fact that they aren’t too sober and traditional!)

For me, they are a solid reminder of 2 really good friends – and it brings me real pleasure to share them with you. hx

 

AVAILABLE VERY SOON – If you would like to go on the waiting list for these items please contact us, or subscribe to harriet’s newsletter or blog for news of items as they become available…

 

 


I spent a recent afternoon measuring, marking, stitching, measuring again, cursing, tying, threading and cursing.
A couple of years ago I found 3 matching pale blue leather “skins” on etsy and happily imported them. And put them in a zip up bag with pictures of ice creams on it and ignored them.
About THIRTEEN years ago, I bought a fat quarter of Liberty’s fabulous Ianthe fabric from a shop that has since been closed down and demolished.
I have a coffee table in a fairly offensively orangey stained pine and I decided about a month ago to make a leather button tufted cushion with Ianthe buttons for it, to turn it into one of those wanky footstool ottoman things you can still rest a tray on…
So with all of my tufting experience (that is, zero), I gathered the fruits of my undisturbed stash of delights, bought some foam and some coverable buttons, did a billion drawings, watched a couple of tutorial videos on YouTube and got to it.
 
You’ll also need, foam, strong leather working thread, a variety of needles, coverable buttons, normal buttons, beeswax, thread, leather, a sewing machine wash tape, scissors, lining fabric, lovely fabric, a world of patience and no problem with the sight of your own blood or the sensation of stabbing yourself repeatedly. You will also need an elaborate, dramatic and extensive collection of swearwords. Here’s the guide….

foam STEP 1 – Scrawl incorrect measurements onto a piece of pre cut foam. Swear. Scrawl correct measurements onto piece of pre cut foam.

leather STEP 2 – Join two skins together with washi tape, sew them together and scrawl some measurements onto them. (2cm bigger both ways than the squares on the foam)

Ianthe buttons STEP 3 – Cover buttons with beautiful yet sadly delicate fabric. This is Ianthe by Liberty and it looks great on blue.

stitches STEP 4 – Do complicated knotty thing copied from YouTube video. Puff up with some pride at impressive nature of sudden expertise.

tufting STEP 5 – Do this bit. Try not to weep too excessively when leather tears and breaks in your fat fingers of ineptitude. Honestly I thought this would be the most fun bit – It really wasn’t.

tufting2 STEP 6 – Nor was this. Attempt to add sharp folds into the leather so that it looks nice.  I used a lolly stick. It meant I had to eat a lolly for practical reasons.

tufting3 STEP 7 – Continue, with the poking and folding and swearing.

tufting4 STEP 8 – Add buttons. Consider not adding a base, not adding all of the buttons and spend a long time watching iPlayer and drinking tea instead of working on it at all.
The fact I have a Chesterfield sofa in the same room puts it to some shame, but the fact that I have a designer’s head, one that says, “ruin one skin, you’ll never find another in the right colour to match” and “could you just measure that again, idiot?” means that I now have a serviceably pretty thing.
I regret not waiting for a wooden base. I got impatient and thought tying it all up together taut at the back would do (no)… But other than that, I am very happy. VERY. All it needs now is a bit more stitching, a proper fabric base and some more cursing and I’m done….there will be evidence.
Keep your stashes. Trust them and the part of your brain that required them. The bits you love may find a way to be useful eventually…

 


If you don’t follow me on twitter (and IF you don’t, it’s a shame. I have come up with something truly awesome for the advent countdown…. Follow me here!! – you’ll have missed me dying my hair orange and white earlier this week too. It’s too late now!! It’s back to blondish again, but I did have a couple of important meetings looking like I had had an egg fight in a TippEx factory. AND I didn’t even cry. Not even once. I am grown up.)

 

You may also have missed the announcement that I was working on a design for the latest British Jewellers’ Association competition. This time it’s one to design a Cocktail Ring.

Cocktail Rings aren’t my specialty – as you can probably deduce from the massive number and variety of them I have never made – but I create things. I design jewellery and I know what looks nice. I’ll have a good stab at it….

 

And as I said in the tweet, It’ll blow your collective bum clean off.

 

So… this is how I work…(I wish this wasn’t so accurate).

  1. Instantly come up with a title for the Cocktail Ring I want to make. No idea what the piece involves or what it will look like but this time I was convinced that it would end up being called “DISCO WOLF GOES ON HOLIDAY”. Suffice to say, it won’t end up being called that – or anything like that.
  2. Spend a couple of weeks scribbling on post-it notes, inventing something absolutely impossible to make in the time. And too small for a catwalk cocktail ring. And not colourful enough. And barely functional. But it fits the title.
  3. Decide instead to listen to sanity and go for something completely different.
  4. Again with the post it notes and tiny pieces of paper, researching idea 2 until it is all I can think about… then realise that this is even more complicated than idea 1. And will take forever to make and at least 2 complex mechanisms… and springs….Decide to forge ahead.
  5. Speak to someone about it and note that they respond much more favourably to idea 1 than to idea 2.
  6. Procrastinate by doing other things – e.g….. dye own hair white and orange.
  7. Chat to a friend – who reminds me that I was talking about doing a design with this animal at some stage…wouldn’t that be cool?
  8. Realise that I have had a Kinder Surprise toy of this animal sitting in front of my face (balanced on the computer!!) for the past 5 months.
  9. Design Cocktail Ring (in about 2 minutes).

 

Horribly true. It will be brilliant though. …. (I hope)

competition sketch bundle...

just a quick note, each of the pages you can see is the front of a little booklet …of 8 pages…. I’ve been taking these EVERYWHERE…

Note  – I make these books (perfectly pocket sized) from a single sheet of paper, using this method I found on Etsy a couple of years ago.

It is so much better than paper for note making and mechanism sketches – you also get a neat little buzz every time you complete one – which is quite regularly seeing as they only have 8 pages…. Use and enjoy – and of course you don’t have to stick to A4 paper…

8 page booklet...

 

AND if you go to the PocketMod site , they have coded loads of very useful drag and drop pages for you to print onto your paper to transform it into a RIDICULOUSLY useful little cheap thing…. Those clever, altruistic humans…They deserve love and money and toast with good things on it.

 

If you’ve got a little more time, you might want to go even further….. This is a fantastic animated tutorial for making a slightly more complex larger notebook – with just tabs and slots holding it together – and glitter!

http://www.designlovefest.com/2012/04/make-it-10-2/ Kudos to D E S I G N L O V E F E S T for this. It’s chuffin’ genius.

 

More news… I am hopelessly addicted to Masterchef the Professionals – mainly for Monica’s face, but also for the food, I suppose. I love the premise of the show coming up on Monday, in which the 4 finalists are going to be given a load of manky kitchen scraps from which they have to produce something awe-inspiring and terribly fancy.

After work, I find it tricky to bring myself to even open the fridge, let alone do anything more complex than stare at its contents… these people are alchemists…I want a takeaway. Or toast with good things on it.

 

 


The Jewellery Story

introduction.

It’s fairly common to read a jeweller’s blog and see something about there being a story behind every piece.

 

Surely sometimes though there are pieces you make to see if you can, just to get the stuff out of your head and into 3D?
No… apparently there are stories. Lots of stories.
“My work contains buttons. When I was growing up, my grandmother taught me to appreciate buttons.”
I was in a room when a jewellery designer said this.

Please. What? Really? No irony? No…well, that’s one weird grandmother. W E i R D.

 

 harriet bedford buttons

I have nothing like that. I draw and I engineer. I think about what things will look like on and off the body. I worry about getting the back of the piece right and I take pride in having my own signature clasp. I’m the type of designer who gets cross with people who don’t draw enough. I also possess an intimidating display of pens.

And then I thought about my grandmother and the time she made me stand at the top of Whiteladies Road in Bristol while she crouched beside me and made me look at the city skyline. The buildings, towers and chimneys.

She didn’t care that I was embarrassed. She wanted me to appreciate the work that had gone into the environment and how beautiful a thing as mundane and everyday as the view from a pavement could be.

That switch from mundanity or simplicity to complex beauty, something you are glad you noticed has grown into a key part of my work.  

And then I thought more about my collections. Reluctantly – very reluctantly, I had to admit that they all have at least one cool fact about them. Some have loads.

And if you have bought one of my pieces, or are thinking about it, or have received one or have owned one for ages, you might want to know what you have there.

It’s a part of me and (I feel like such an idiot saying this) there is a story behind every piece.

harriet bedford. workbench

harriet bedford ember brooch

the stories will appear here.
hb x

Having been told, then Told and finally TOLD to write a blog, it was fourteen whole seconds before I realised that I don’t have a single clue what you might want to hear about. Stuff that helps or entertains you, I guess. The odd thing you might want to keep for when that THING happens and there was that THING someone wrote about it with the gleaming genius answers…and …well all I have at the moment is this….

 

– my new black or white diamond and sterling silver pierced JOSIE ROSE COLLECTION!       It probably won’t help you to declutter your home, or bake a better lemon cake  – But it is pretty – and available on site very soon….

Josie Rose white diamond and sterling silver pendant  Josie Rose silver stud earrings

 

My friend Mia asked who I would make a piece of jewellery for if there were no limits on time or budget…. 

The trouble with strangers, even howlingly beautiful and talented ones is that they are still strangers. There are projects that would bring me immense joy – like making a suit of modern armour for Benedict Cumberbatch or an amazing set of sleeves that join as a necklace for someone like Lily Cole or Mila Kunis or Uma Thurman but I’d rather make things for people I know and love. It breathes excitement into work and makes you try new things, just to see the delight in their faces as they flip the box open…

My mum had a traditional silver charm bracelet from her travels but it was stolen when I was a child. I can remember some of the charms but not all of them. I would love to recreate that for her, given the time. I wish I could google the information or find a photo of it but it’s just me and my brain. I know there was a graduation cap (because I used to wear it on my little finger) and a frame with a pencil drawing of Snoopy in it – but that’s where I go blank…It’s horrible.

 

My mother is awesome, she’s like me but ruder! I wanted to share this with you because it is about a billion times better than regular cheese on toast.

My Mum’s Recipe….

Tastes Bad For You Because It Is Cheese on Toast.

Ingredients – Bread, Tomato Ketchup, Tomato, Anchovies (salted), Cheddar Cheese, Mayonnaise.

Directions – Toast bread on one side, spread other side with ketchup, add sliced tomato, anchovy cross and slices of cheese. Toast until proper. Add Mayonnaise. A lot of.

Do not attempt to omit any ingredients – if you do, it won’t work. It will be awful. Oh dear.

 

Found and adored on NotonTheHighStreet.com – I hear they stock some nice stuff!;)

original_i-like-you-more-than-cheese-on-toast-badge

 

 

 

 

For news and the latest information about competitions, designs, new releases and general stuff, please subscribe to my almighty email newsletter, like my Facebook Page, Pin with me on Pinterest (I do a LOT of that!) and follow my endless twitterings… Go. NOW. Do these things. Or the spiteful singing kitten ninjas will get you. And sing at you.