Saturday 9 July 2016

Tamsin Francesca Jewellery via Meet The Makers of The Handmade Fair

Welcome to our #MeetTheMaker special, Meet The Makers of The Handmade FairEvery day for two weeks we will meet some of the fabulous creatives who will be attending this year's Kirstie Allsopp's 'The Handmade Fair'. The fair will run from 16th - 18th September 2016 at The Green (Hampton Court Palace).

Don't forget to use your special Crafty Bs discount code when you are booking your tickets! You can also win yourself some tickets here.

If intricately designed, hand crafted, statement jewellery is your thing, you do not want to miss today's interview with the extremely talented Tamsin of Tamsin Francesca Jewellery

Thanks for taking the time to tell us your story Tamsin! Let's jump straight in with a little about you
I originally trained as a costume designer for theatre and film at Wimbledon School of Art, then moved on to the John Cass School and Holts Academy to train further in metalworking skills. Life took me away from London after my theatre degree and I tried my hand at metalworking to fill the creative gap, having always been interested in it. The first necklace I ever made in 2006 won a design competition at the V&A in London and was subsequently exhibited there. That gave me the confidence to continue to learn new skills, move back to London and start a whole new career.

The V&A?! What a fab way to get started, that is amazing. What item are you sharing with us today?
These earrings are some of my most popular. They are solid sterling silver, fine silver (99% pure) and then 18ct gold plated. The idea is that as they are studs they can be worn easily everyday, but they are large studs, which gently curve around the earlobe, giving them a grace which solid pieces don’t often convey. This makes them easy to take into evening wear, without sore ears from wearing large earrings all day. They are particularly popular in autumn and winter as they can be worn with scarves without getting in the way, and then look lovely with your LBD at Christmas parties.

They are beautiful. I am a bit of a scarf obsessive so I like that they are statement without getting caught. How did you create such an intricate design?
The fine wirework is bobbin lace, worked in metal. When I was studying at Sir John Cass I discovered I had renowned lacemakers in my family, Sir Stuart and Lady Christine Town, with work held at the V&A and Wells Cathedral respectively. I investigated their work and felt this was a family tradition that I had to reinstate! I taught myself some of the lace making skills they had used and combined these with the jeweller’s metalworking techniques to create the Torchon and Élan ranges; elegant, striking, but delicate. It took many, many hours of deciphering lace prickings (the patterns lace makers use), making pieces in multiple colours to learn how the threads interwove, and long nights of practice, practice, practice before I developed my own pricking designs for the jewellery pieces. Then to translate the soft cotton threads into stiff silver wire, which has a tendency to bend and snap if your technique is wrong was another learning curve with my trial and error. Over many months I altered and made several tools to enable me to combine two distinct craft skills, textile and metal based, to create a single piece that is both fine and strong.

It sounds like very skilled work, you are very talented. Why did you decide to turn these skills into a business? 
Life is too short! We spend most of our lives at work so I wanted to make sure work was something I loved to do. Easy to say of course, it’s been a very long road and very hard work to get to the point where I can focus on my jewellery business. Many other jobs have propped up the dream along the way, but 3 years ago I went full time working for myself as a jewellery designer / maker.

I am sure all of your customers are glad you did. So what inspires and motivates you?
Nature. Whenever I feel blue I go to the woods and drink it in. Carrying a little bit of that beauty with you, around your neck or on a finger is a constant reminder that there is beauty all around us, if only we look up.

I love that you can translate the beauty of nature into wearable items. Can we find you on social media and see more of your work?
Of course. I am on Twitter (@TamsinFrancesca), Instagram (@tamsinfrancescajewellery), on Facebook (/TamsinFrancescaJewellery) and Pinterest (TamFranJewel)

Great. We will all find you now. Is this year your first at The Handmade Fair?
Yes, this is the first time I’ll be at The Handmade Fair. It’s really exciting. I’ve heard great things about the show, from exhibitors and visitors alike. I really enjoy doing events like this because you actually get to meet the people buying your work, which is a treat.

What are you most looking forward to?
The buzz! Everyone there is either highly skilled, learning a skill or appreciative of the skills that surround them, so there’s a lot of shared positivity and shared knowledge. I have always found the craft and art communities to be very open and generous so the atmosphere I’m expecting is very warm and supportive.

Where can we find you and what will visitors find at your stand?
W34 in the west shopping village. You will fins a cornucopia of glittering floral delights. Everything I do is solid silver, with 18ct gold and freshwater pearls and everything is available to try on. I will be making some of the simpler wirework elements on the stand and welcome the curious so please feel free to ask me questions. There is an exclusive offer for CraftyB readers too! Print the voucher in the linked blog and you’ll get 10% off at the show (offer in sidebar of the Mrs Crafty B blog)

Wow what a great offer for the Crafty Bs! Thanks so much. What will you be up to between now and The Handmade Fair?
Hidden away in the workshop making large quantities of beautiful jewellery of course! I have a new range, Jasmine, for summer 2016, so The Handmade Fair will be the first big event where Jasmine will be on sale outside galleries and the website.

I can't wait to see it. Ok Tamsin, a quick fire round to finish off!

Your crafting hero?
Arline Fisch

Name three stands you will be visiting at The Handmade Fair?
Fabric Affair, Ben Rothery Illustrations, Jes Hooper

Your favourite handmade item?
My double weave quilt, handmade by Eleanor Pritchard

Your favourite place?
English woodland, I’m not really fussy where!

Favourite beverage?
Tea. Of course. And sometimes rum.

Favourite chocolate bar?
Whole nut

Three things that make you happy?
My daughter’s laugh, the reaction of a bride when she receives her order of wedding jewellery and the first flush of spring after a long winter.

Your biggest achievement?
Having my daughter. Cliched but true!

Describe The Handmade Fair in 5 words or less
Exciting. Busy. Hard-work. Satisfying. Happy.

Tamsin, thank you so much for telling us about about your handcrafted jewellery and giving us an insight to how they are designed and created. It is great to read about the people and processes behind such beautiful pieces. 

Crafty Bs DO NOT miss your exclusive offer from Tamsin. Click the image in the sidebar to get your voucher! 

Mrs Crafty B
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