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…

 

 

 


Things I did before I was 37.

Hello.

This might look at first glance to be one of those “swim with mountains and climb a dolphin” sort of list. It isn’t. Don’t worry.

 

It isn’t one of those lists for two reasons. 1 – I find them bossy, impossible to emulate and slanted to inspire envy/a feeling that ones own life has been wasted and 2 – I haven’t ever been swimming with dolphins and I don’t want to climb a mountain.

 

I tried to find the list of 30 things I did before I was 30. Sadly, the medium I used to create it was myspace. Part of the construction of their great new look (myspace is impossible to use or like but it does now look great) involved getting rid of everything everyone had ever put on there. Except tiny pictures of people you had connected with. That’s it now. But oooh! Pretty, unusable nothing!

 

Anyway. Couldn’t find my 30th birthday list. But I am 37 tomorrow. I thought I’d share some things that are really great and if you get the chance, you should try them. Or not.

 

MAKE AN IMPROBABLE TOASTIE – Or smoothie or BBQ thing, or ice cream. Just combine some things that you like the taste of and eat them. One of the finest discoveries of my young life was banana wrapped in bacon and stuck on the barbecue…AKA “Monkeys on Horseback”. My goodness they are good.

 

NAME THINGS – being given the chance to name a thing is awe-inspiringly wonderful.  If it’s a kid, you have basic care/bullying needs to consider (or not). I, a few years ago, had the golden opportunity to name pedigree kittens. Thanks to me, Mr Doyle kitten, Taptaptap kitten, and Ordinary kitten can now step out in style. It’s brilliant fun.

 

BE A TOURIST IN YOUR HOME TOWN – Easier in some places than others. I have a funfair visible from where I am currently sitting. Just mill about, buy postcards, collect leaves, go brass rubbing, have a burger, go on a guided tour. No one ever said you had to be an adult. (And if they did well… they were probably miserable being adult themselves and wanted to see someone else suffer too…) AND if you’re abroad, be properly abroad. If you are on a beach, enjoy beach things, don’t dick around with your phone. In fact just avoid dicking around with your phone in company forever please.

 

IF IT’S THE BEST, MAKE IT BETTER! – You know baths? They are great. Why not make every bath the best one you’ve ever had? Candles, cup of tea, good book. Don’t skimp on nice stuff just because it’s not Christmas. You might die tomorrow… It’s not a question of greed or gluttony or hedonism…more a sense of gratitude and staying in the moment. This is (was) your only 15th April 2014… did you…do anything good? Did you do anything? Also if you can do stuff that makes you stride in a puffed up way, that’s good. Striding is excellent. I once strode down Oxford Street, took the tube to the London Eye and had a ride on it in an immensely puffed up way. It was fabulous.

 

REDISCOVER. Get into things you were into/wanted to get into as a kid. About 10 years ago, I bought the entire set of Panini WWF stickers. Because I am an adult and I could afford more than 1 packet a week. I also had all bar 1 of the Garfield set – and Shaun W. had all of them – and that broke my heart. That’s why. I also really love Ricicles.

 

FOLLOW THE LINE – As a scientific atheist, I have issues with the concept of fate – BUT it is fun sometimes to follow a line and see where it takes you. My only real attempt at this led me to my mentor and great friend Judith Lockwood…. – I didn’t win the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Brooch Competition …but that was good because I badly injured my back and was immobile for the 3 weeks I would have needed to spend making it …and I was bed ridden watching a lot of daytime TV …including antiques programmes which got me into the idea of auctioning work for charity …so I got involved with the Born Free Foundation and was due to attend a Ball in Derby …which was cancelled due to horrible illness …but I went anyway …and slotted in a visit to Birmingham …and noticed that the BJA were having a meeting on the day I was there…so I went…and met Judith…and Gordon Hamme, the organiser of the new mentoring initiative…and….well…you see?  And it’s all the fault of hours of “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is”. Bizarre and lucky and very satisfying.

 

TALK TO STRANGERS – No kids, never those strangers. I mean useful strangers. You know when you go into an Asian Supermarket and there are all of those things everywhere. You know your favourite takeaway food? If you ask the person behind the counter, they will give you everything you need, knowledge-wise to make it – and sell you the rest. It’s in their interest and yours. It makes life better (oh salt and pepper chicken wings…)

 

GIVE MONDO-GIFTS – You know those presents that make people cry with the joy and the thoughtfulness of them. Endeavour to give those every time for every occasion. You’ll look forward to other people’s special occasions more than you look forward to your own. And no…if your first thought is “it’s too expensive,” you are already doing it wrong. Imagine them weeping with happiness then work backwards.

 

THAT? YEAH, DO THAT! Last year, I applied with my pal Josie (after whom the Josie Rose collection is named) for the gameshow Pointless. We got an audition which was a lot of fun and an excuse for an adventure and to revisit Bristol. I occasionally enter competitions – win stuff even more occasionally – but when it’s a pair of kickass headphones or an evening with the head chef from Gu and a load of diamonds in nick james’ old place in Hatton Garden – it really is quality that counts! It might be geeky or odd to ask or participate but if you want to DO.

 

PLEASE UNDERSTAND – It’s only in the last couple of years that I have realised that the judgement that is supposed to be falling on all of us – by society – so BY EACH OTHER is just horse-shit. Live, kiddo. Live before you die.

 

 

 


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…

 

 


Over the last couple of days, I have put together a collection of a few of the press cuttings I have about hb. I started thinking about the people I have chosen to deal with. And why the majority are stand up comedians.

 

I have been a fan of live stand up comedy since the very early 90s, One of the first gigs I saw was to see Jack Dee supported by Lee Evans. I can still remember the discovery. I knew I wanted to experience that kind of laughter all the time.

6 years later and I was doing stand up comedy myself. My first open mic spot was at The Fez in Bath. The other open mic spot that night was Marcus Brigstocke.

I met so many now very famous people during that time. I have no clue as to what I thought I was doing – but it felt like a plan – something that I wanted to be a part of. I think I just wanted to be a panelist on QI – before QI had been invented.

I enjoyed writing the stuff. I talked about things like the advert for Kinder Surprise Eggs, things it’s illegal to import and methods used by strangers to get children to get into their cars. Before every gig, terror – after, a sort of exhausted elation. Relief.

 

People often ask me why I don’t go back to stand up. The simple answer is that I don’t want to. I wasn’t good enough at it and I didn’t enjoy it. I wasn’t at home on stage.

I fell in love with the comedians and the slightly seedy, slightly too adult for a girl on her own nights out but I couldn’t be a fan. It was all too important to me. I wanted to talk to clever people as someone who knew what it was like to go out, bomb, die, panic, nail it, improvise and soar. I loved the brains of the people I met – and I will always be grateful for having had the chance to meet them in the days before twitter gave them something better to do with their time than talk to people at the back of the room pre-performance.

I’m also glad I met them when I was in awe of them. As an 18 year old, being cool while being given a free pass to meet my idols. Honest to god, I am so lucky. They won’t know me now, of course. They were all in a haze of panic of their own when we met. And I have a different name. I look different and I am finally at home, living the life I was meant to live. Phew.

 

But this Christmas, I received 3 stand up comedy dvds. The latest from Jack Dee, Greg Davies and Bill Bailey. All now recommended to you by someone who really does know.

81fO9qaiy-L._SL1500_ 91YPOq3wNCL._SL1500_ 917bXHBVyaL._SL1500_

 

Live comedy is great. Undiluted joy when there is nothing else to drive you to feel happy, less calorific than chocolate, more soothing than alcohol, always there.

 

And Greg Davies shows off his gut. Again. What more could you possibly want?

 

 


The story behind the Peacock bangle.

peacock bangle 3peacock bangle
spot the difference – the first Peacock bangle from 2006 and the new version available HERE.
As with a lot of pieces, this started off as a competition entry.
I had designed leaves and flowers at this point. Designing a peacock feather without colour felt like a strange thing to do – but worth the effort. I’ve been looking at feather structure for years. (I’m a geneticist too, you know…)
The Kayman design award was the first jewellery design competition I ever entered and I managed to short list with a 5 piece peacock collection; a pendant, layered stud earrings, an ornate neckpiece and matching bracelet and this bangle.
I took my entry up to Birmingham myself – my first introduction to the British Jewellers Association. It didn’t win but I can remember being told in hushed tones by one of the judges that it had been, “fought for” – that was important.
So I had this new collection. The peacock bangle was my favourite piece from it – the first master had taken 3 ½ weeks to pierce out.
I started casting from that first piece and it was a popular piece straight away so when I lost contact with my caster – and well… she decided to keep the master(!) the stock ran out quickly.
The first new master I made is shown here.
I tried to find a company with the expertise to cast from it. No one could help. I looked over the place but eventually accepted that I wasn’t going to be able to produce the piece again. That was that. I had the hand pierced master 22ct gold plated – it is beautiful and for sale HERE.
 gold plated peacock bangleRose Gold Peacock bangle 2012
So that was it. The master was gone. I started on new collections and (nearly) gave up.
(Insert mournful music with images of me looking solemnly out of the window here. Rain? Probably.)
I met Kim at International Jewellery London in 2012, had a couple of meetings and started using her for all of my casting needs. The quality of her work is fabulous.
I made a new master in copper (only 2½ days to pierce!) with improvements, little holes in the centre of the eyes made the design fresher and more ornate and strips on the back of the piece gave it strength and weight – a vital characteristic of any piece of jewellery.
peacock bangle master in copper
I sent it to Kim and waited. I waited and waited….. I eventually received a very sheepish phone call…
Harriet? … I can probably do it but I wanted me to ask you something …. Would it be OK if I…Cut your master….in…..half?
That bit of ultra cheeky problem solving is why I love Kim. I always aim to work with people willing to think more and harder and differently about a project in order to get it done. I’m very lucky to have found her.

And of course I said yes (and did a little dance)… And can now present the peacock bangle. It’s lovely to have it back!

Ta-Dah!!!

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