Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Artist in the Window Susan Hill

May is a very busy month and blogs coming up will be three featuring our artists that are taking part in Derbyshire Open Arts which takes place 24th - 26th of May.
We have two artists in our window during May the first we will showcase here is Susan Hill later in the month we will introduce the other Louise MacIntosh Watson. Below is our interview with Susan.

 Susan Hill

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Susan Hill, a jewellery designer maker, working in both sterling silver and gold.   I  have been designing and creating handcrafted jewellery for a number of years.  All my work is made with hand tools using traditional silversmithing techniques.  My aim is that my jewellery has a style that is recognised as my own,  the design of the majority of my work being simple classic designs, with the main design feature being contrasting textures and finishes of the silver and gold. 
I also run jewellery & silversmithing workshops from my studio, which I love, as it gives me the opportunity to pass on my enthusiasm for jewellery making and helps people realise how achievable great results are. 

How has your practice changed over time?
I have been designing and making my jewellery for a number of years, having started originally on a vocational basis when my children were young.   When I first began, I made and sold my jewellery to family and friends, then gradually increased this to include local fairs.  As my sales started to increase I was very lucky to be offered the opportunity to work from a friend’s converted barn while my friend was busy with her sewing at the same time.  My sales and network of customers went from strength to strength so around 18 months ago I took what felt like a big step to rent a studio at Banks Mill Studios, Derby.  Since this time I haven’t looked back;  I absolutely love working from my studio and am very pleased to say I am now so busy with my jewellery and workshops that it is now my full-time profession and I now don’t have enough hours in the week!

How do you work
I always have lots of new ideas for pieces that I would to make and develop, which I jot  down on bits of paper as the ideas often come to me while I am out and about, for instance if I am driving and I am just thinking round ideas to do with my jewellery.  I sometimes get frustrated as I don’t have time to work on and develop new designs as I am too busy with orders (which I know is a good problem to have!)  Once I do start working on new ideas they invariably do not end up the same as their original design as I amend details as I am making, sometimes to improve the design and sometimes just because I have had a different idea along the way.  

What work do you most enjoy doing?
I have made a few sets of ‘his and hers’ wedding rings recently and I always feel so honored to be asked to make what is probably the most personal piece of jewellery that anyone ever buys!  The couples coming to select their rings are always so excited and I love having a little insight into their forthcoming wedding day.  The thought that the couple will wear and see their rings that I made every day makes me feel very proud!

What themes/fashions do you pursue?
I don’t tend to think of my jewellery as being fashion-led as it is mostly of  a classic style, but if I see pieces or photos of my jewellery from a few years ago I realise that it has changed in style over this time.  I think in part this is my own distinctive style developing,  but there is also an element of changing fashions and styles being ‘in’ or ‘out’.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by feeling successful in what I am doing, and feeling proud of my jewellery when people are happy they have bought a piece, either for themselves or as a gift.

Is the artistic life lonely?  What do you do to counteract it?
I find that when I am in my studio working on pieces, time goes so incredibly quickly as I am so absorbed in my work I never have time to be lonely!  One big advantage of my studio being at Banks Mill Studios is that I enjoy spending  time alone working in my studio, but there are people around for when you want to step outside your work ‘zone’ and switch off for a little while for a chat and a quick coffee!

What do you like about your work?
One area of my work that I particularly enjoy is running my workshops.  Everyone who comes to a class is really motivated and excited about making their own jewellery pieces.  They then have the complete satisfaction of making a piece of jewellery they are quite rightly very proud of.

Favourite or most inspirational place?
My favourite place is around Padstow in Cornwall.  I have been going there with my family for a number of years and we just love the contrasting coastline, from beautiful sandy bays to big dramatic cliffs and sea.

What’s the best piece of advice you've been given/would give?

The best piece of advice I would offer to someone is to treat all sales of your work ,  however big or small, as important as each other and put the same level of care into each piece as you never know what opportunities or orders may follow from people seeing and being happy with your work. 

Thank you Susan!
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