Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Artist Feature: The Wonderful work of Catherine Hicks (Catherine's Studio)

I am delighted to feature the beautiful Catherine's Studio which is created by the very talented Catherine Hicks. Catherine creates each piece by hand using ethically sourced Silver and Gold and recycled materials are used where ever possible. The work is unique and delicate and I hope you fall in love with it as much as I have...

1. How did your business come about (and when did you start)?

I left my job and moved to back to Devon in 2011 and having lots of spare time I started making more jewellery. I had done a short evening course in Bristol the year before. Just having the time to play around and the space in a large studio of my own was enough to start being more creative, having lots more ideas and before long I had a collection. I approached a gallery in Totnes called Whitespace Art which I'd admired for years and never thought they would be interested but they said yes and took every piece! And that gave me the confidence to approach others. From there I have built things up and things have changed a lot along the way.

2. Can you give a quick insight into your working method? (ideas, techniques, etc.)

When I started I would use the drawings I had of birds mainly (I'm obsessed with birds) and create shapes out of silver and brass and then order materials, beads and ribbon and place them together to see what might work. Then I would draw the idea in my sketch book before making up a design. Often when I have made a piece I like this will give me an idea for another and so on. When I started I used a lot of brass and copper with silver and would mix these in my pieces, I tend to use more silver and gold now. I like to engrave and oxidize pieces I'm not really a fan of highly polished or ornate pieces.

 3. What has been the hardest single obstacle to your life in design (apart from a shortage of time, which seems to be universal amongst creatives!)?

Making repetitions. It would be amazing to make one off pieces, which is what I do in a way, when I start a new collection, but then I make repeats as a necessity really when running a business.

Making repetitions takes time and then you don't have as much time for new designs - which is the creative fun bit. The other thing is paper work and keeping on top of emails and sales, which takes up more time than I ever thought it would. I get around all this by setting aside blocks of time to create new designs.

4. How do you stay motivated? What inspires you?

I like a lot of Japanese jewellery and prints and that inspired me a lot originally. I like simplicity and tend to steer away from anything too ornate. I like to try and include color but more recently I have just been using silver and gold. I get inspired from museum visits a lot, the V&A will always give me an idea or two. This last year I've been working on themes, so I was working with British Wild Flowers and I used drawings from my Mum's garden to then transfer into silver and brass shapes, which I then worked into pieces. I stay motivated by always having a theme to work towards, I might not have started working on it yet but I'll think about it for ages before starting work and it's nice to have something to look forward to. I have a few ideas for the next theme but you'll have to watch this space to find out what they are!.

5. What has been the icing on the cake for you as a artist/designer?

Being selected for the Devon Guild of Craftsmen Christmas Exhibition for two years running. It was the place I visited all through school and whenever I went home so to be exhibiting there was super exciting - and terrifying the first time. The first year I got everything ready and then two weeks prior to the exhibition I decided I hated everything that I had made and frantically made 20 new pieces somehow. A bit mad but I was happy with everything in the end and they sold well.

6. Who do you admire (other artists/designers; other people generally) and what/who are your biggest influences, past or present?

I like a lot of print makers and painters. The print maker Katherine Jones and Micheal Honnor are two favorites of mine. Sydney Lynch and Zoe Arnold I think are amazing jewelers and really creative only making one off pieces - something to aim for!!

7. Describe your creative space

A mess! Especially when I'm working on new designs. Chaos even - but I know where everything is! And then I'll drop a tiny link or some tiny piece of gold and I'll have to have tidy up to find it. I'm better than I used to be I have a much smaller space now so I need to be more organized. 

Catherine's Studio Space in Spring 2012

8. What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

I don't think I've ever been given advice, that I can remember! Lots of people say that they like the color when I use in in my jewellery which always encourages me to keep using it.

You can keep up to date with Catherine's work here...

(all above images are © Catherine Hicks)