Company: Rare Bird Ltd
Speciality: The process of making something is my favourite "thing", not the thing itself.
Town/City: Village, near a town, near a city, the city being Nottingham.
What's your day job? My online business Rare Bird Ltd - Everything you need to work with Friendly Plastic - the knowledge, the materials and the instruction, the inspiration.
What is your favourite JM moment? The 4th Birthday event - it said everything about the company - the sense of family, the irrepressible fun and the desire to share and involve.
Background/How long have you been making jewellery? Creativity is woven into my soul. It has been a driving part of my life for ever, and the love of cloth and fibre are the very warp and weft of me. However I discovered Friendly Plastic back in 1990, and a new path lay before me. Sometimes I walk the textile line, and at other times I am running down the Friendly Plastic path, but more and more the two paths intersect and I combine Friendly Plastic with Textiles. I began demonstrating for the UK suppliers of Friendly Plastic in 1992 and this gave added impetus to exploring the medium. From that point on I began teaching and demonstrating both Friendly Plastic and Free Machine Embroidery, eventually concentrating entirely on the plastic as my business grew (Rare Bird was born in 1992). Along the way Jewellery became the primary focus as trends shifted away from cardmaking and into Jewellery, but ever since I discovered Friendly Plastic I have been making jewellery, and before that I made textile jewellery too, selling it via galleries and party plan. One of the things I am most proud of is my involvement in the Living Donor Pin project for live kidney donors. After listening to many donors and recipients I designed the silver pin, commissioned it to be made and launched it with Nottingham City Hospital and Astellas Pharma who then took it nationwide. I still get today the odd grateful email from surprised recipients who are delighted and touched by the recognition the silver pin represents.
What courses do you teach both for JM and outside and why? Friendly Plastic courses dominate my teaching schedule both for JM and for myself. It is such an underrated medium which people have bad memories of and have never learnt to use properly. I am positively evangelical in my desire to spread the word and get others to become as addicted to this endlessly fascinating and versatile medium. When people understand how to use it and how to make it work for them, it is such a fabulous, quick and easy material to use, requiring little in the way of tools and equipment, virtually no mess, and the results are instant. Teaching Friendly Plastic has taken me to the USA, Spain and Denmark, and all over the UK for groups and individuals, shops and clubs, and I have even done it on BBC children's TV.
Who/What else inspires you outside of JM and why? How do you answer a question like this? What does not inspire me! It could be a spiral staircase, a wonky door, an interesting stone on the beach, the shadow of a pile of chairs, some rusty cogs, the texture of lichen on a rock, the silhouette of a driver in my rear view mirror, the patterns in the snow, the colour of a pile of fruit or fresh vegetables at the greengrocers. The list is endless. It is not what you see but the way you look at it that counts. Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time if your mind is open to it. If I have to pick an inspirational someone, I choose the amazing contemporary jewellery artist Nora Fok who uses nylon micro filament and 3D printing to create the most amazingly fantastic and delicate structures http://www.norafok.com/
What is your favourite colour? My favourite colour is the colour that I need to use to create my artwork. If I had a favourite colour then I would be stuck in a colour rut, and I try to avoid that at all times. In fact I try to challenge myself to be aware of and to use different colour combinations to ensure my eyes are wide open to the infinite variety of colour.
What is your favourite gemstone? The diamond my husband gave me when we got engaged 29 years ago, the pearl that belonged to my mother and her grandmother before her, the sapphire that belonged to a lady who was like a second mother to me. The lump of granite with a hole in it that my son proudly gave me when he was 3 years old, and the gemstones that I am using for my current project. They are all beautiful to me.