Debbie of Weaversfield Jewellery, who is one of our artists for the Cambridge Made Summer Fair on June 11th, makes primarily wire-wrapped and wire woven jewellery, in silver and copper, often with accents of semi-precious stones and interesting glass beads. She began Weaversfield about five years ago as a spare time activity and went full-time about two years ago.
“I felt I was wasting my life in my job, and I wanted to challenge the idea that you can’t expect to love your work. I’ve always loved making things and I felt that regret for not doing what I was desperate to do would be much worse than regretting actually doing it.
“It was by accident that I found an aptitude for jewellery. I took a beading class because my husband usually works really late and I wanted something creative to do on my own. It was so enjoyable that I started to research techniques, and when I discovered wirework, something clicked. Not only do I think it looks beautiful, it can also be demanding, rewards experimentation, and is totally absorbing. I’m excited by the look of woven and wrapped wire, the translation of textile techniques to metal and the juxtaposition of the textures you can create with wire.
“For me, making for a living means being keen to get up in the morning, feeling as though there’s a treat in store for me when I’m about to make a new piece, being excited when I realise I’ve got a few hours on a Saturday that I can spend making — even though I do it during the week too. It also means taking myself seriously as a creative person, perhaps even as an artist, something I had trouble with for a long time. I’m taking part for the first time in Cambridge Open Studios this year, and just a couple of years ago I never would have dreamed of doing that: I would have felt like an impostor, basically, but now I think ‘why not?’”
Debbie is inspired by natural forms and by artistic movements such as Art Deco and Art Nouveau – probably, she says. “because of books of colour plates I had as a child and used to look at constantly”. She also loves the Middle Eastern decorative arts.
“In terms of style and technique, I am totally in awe of the wire artists that come out of Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe. Some of their stuff is literally jaw-dropping. On the flip side, I try not to look very often, because it’s not always good to compare yourself. You can start to wonder if there’s any point in your own stuff when there is such wonderful art in the world, and that’s a destructive way to think! We all bring something unique to our work.
Obstacles & Advice
Debbie identifies other issues that can be difficult for makers, saying that “lack of confidence and self-belief” were early obstacles for her. “I struggled in the first couple of years of making when something didn’t turn out well: I had no resilience and would despair that I was no good and had wasted loads of time I didn’t have on making something unsuccessful. Now I still don’t like it if I make a piece I’m not happy with, but I do have the sense now to put it down and go to bed, in the knowledge that when you’ve just made something you have limited objectivity about it. You also have to learn how to encourage yourself and not wait for external validation.”
To anyone thinking of starting a creative business, Debbie says: “You probably have to expect to make very little money for the first couple of years, and be sure you can weather that. If you can, get it to the point where it makes you a bare living before you quit your day job (I didn’t do this!). Try to be different in what you make. Remember that you are in it for the long term, and don’t despair at the inevitable setbacks. I have that famous poem by Samuel Beckett on my wall, and it’s helped me out so many times!
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.
Try again. Fail again. Fail better
See Debbie’s work and that of our other artists on June 11th at St Andrews Street Baptist Church (near Arts Picturehouse) in Cambridge on June 11th, 10am-5pm. Here’s our event page. If you plan to pop in for a browse, do click to say you’re Interested or Going!