Friday 17 November 2017

Jeweller Interview with Gemma Atwell of The Silver Shed

Fairy tales in all their forms are such an important part of childhood. We think we grow out of them but, really, those years are so formative that we can never really leave their magic behind, and I felt a reminder when I first saw Gemma Atwell's beautiful jewellery.

Silver Wolf and Moon Silhouette Pendant by The Silver Shed

The Silver Shed, Gemma's online shop, is full of jewellery inspired by fairy tales and childhood stories, as well as images from folklore and nature. It's a wonderful place to visit to escape from the modern world and go back to simpler times...

Read on to learn more about how Gemma comes up with such wonderful ideas, how she is developing her work, and  where her beautiful pieces is created.

When and how did you start making jewellery?

I kind of fell into it really, around 15 years ago I was looking for a creative short course to do and found a 10 week silversmithing one. That was it, I was hooked. The interest had always been there though, I was given a silver charm bracelet as a child and was so fascinated at how the little charms were made. After the short course I signed onto a City & Guilds design for jewellery NVQ, the love for metal-smithing grew from there.

I love your shop name - how did you think of it and does it have a story behind it?

It is quite simply because I am a shed dweller! My studio is a garden shed/summerhouse. I originally thought to use my own name as my business name but I wanted something a little more memorable.

Silversmith's Workshop by The Silver Shed

Where do your design ideas come from and what is the process that sees them through to the finished product?

An idea for a collection can begin anywhere, I have many snippets of inspiration waiting to be worked on. I tend to make mood boards, Pinterest is good for this, and doodle in sketchbooks until an idea forms into something more concrete. Sometimes I make maquettes from paper or copper, but more often than not I move straight into working in silver. If something doesn't quite work I will smelt that silver down to cast other pieces. If I am working on a gold piece of jewellery I will usually make a model or two first to make sure the design works.

Your designs have a wonderfully whimsical style - where do your ideas come from?

The majority of my work is based in folklore and fairytales, I am a firm believer that we can all do with a little bit of magic in our lives. Nostalgia and whimsy definitely play a part, I love when someone says a piece stirs a long forgotten memory, or when they get misty eyed thinking of the books they have read to their children.

Silver Pendant set against a Spool of Thread by The Silver Shed

Do you take your own shop photos, and if so do you have any photography hints?

I do take my own photos yes, although I am never completely happy with them. I'm no great photographer but it is something that needs to be done. I would certainly say good, sharp photos are one of your best tools when selling your own work, naturally lit and styled to reflect you and your business.

How did you decide on the way you style your jewellery photos?

The photos I take need to represent my brand so I like them to reflect the way I style my stands at shows/markets. I always want my staging to evoke the idea of a professor's study or an alchemist's desk, with books, inkwells and bell jars filled with archaeological or natural history finds. I use a lot of text and ancient/folk imagery in my work so I want my lifestyle photographs to enhance that.

Two Silver Rings with Stamped Quotes from Alice in Wonderland by The Silver Shed

Which social media platform do you find the most enjoyable and helpful, and how do you use it?

Instagram is definitely my go to for social media, I like how visual it is and that it is one of the only platforms where independent businesses still have the upper-hand. It's great for networking too, I've made lots of Insta buddies and love how much support you can find from other creatives all over the globe. I also still use Facebook and actually manage to sell through both, they are a great way to gauge how a new design will be received before launching it properly.

How do you hope your jewellery making will evolve over time? How do you see your shop changing?

I actually made a conscious decision this year to concentrate on making some larger, more intricate jewellery, pieces I want to make rather than what I think I should be. I was really nervous about this move but thankfully so far my new work has been really well received. I understand they are more considered purchases but I also know that when somebody buys one it is because they truly love it.

Silver Cloud Pendant set against a White and Gold Feather by The Silver Shed

What is the best tip or advice you've been given?

Be inspired by others but don't copy them and do not constantly compare yourself to your contemporaries, do your thing and the right people will find you. Those you follow and admire have the same insecurities as you too.

All photographs in this post ©Gemma Atwell (The Silver Shed)

Thanks so much for the interview, Gemma, I loved learning more about the inspiration behind your work - and that you really do have a silver shed!

To see more of Gemma's work and inspiration then head to the links below:

Folksy Shop ~ The Silver Shed
Etsy Shop - The Silver Shed
Facebook ~ The Silver Shed
Twitter ~ @silvershedgirl
Instagram ~ @silvershedgirl


If you'd like to read some other of my jeweller interviews then do click here to find more

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