Designing and making jewellery is a passion of mine, and one I have been doing for as long as I can remember.
When I was about four years old I made my mum an elasticated bracelet from that hideous, cloth coated elastic that ties in big ugly knots and green and pink plastic beads. It was quite ugly, looking back, but my mum (bless her cotton socks) wore it everyday for years. (She still has it in the top drawer of her dressing table).
I recently met a customer of mine who told me she didn't realise her jewellery from Salt & Co. was handmade, so I felt it was important to do a little blog post on the story behind my jewellery.
Its so difficult to pinpoint every inspiration for each individual piece I make! There are so many and I am sure you don't want to read a blog post thats 100 pages long. So in this post, I'll highlight my key inspirations and outline my personal design process.
So my inspiration comes from everywhere! The key thing is my hometown, the place I grew up. I live in Northumberland, near the Alnwick area. (between Newcastle and Berwick.. yes there is something in-between!) If you've been to Northumberland (the coast especially) you'll understand exactly what I mean about feeling inspired. The shades of blue in the ocean, the soft pink and grey/blue tones in the sky. The way the waves crash and dance in a storm, the smell of Craster Kippers and the almost white, sandy beaches that look so grey and cold in the winter. I love it here, I can't see myself living anywhere else... and the inspiration it brings me, in all the movement, nature and colours is unbeatable.
Pictured: Howick, Northumberland. UK.
The other highly influential thing in my designs is fashion trends. I wouldn't say my designs are 'high fashion' or 'on trend' exactly, but I do aim to stay aware of all jewellery and fashion trends and let this influence my jewellery, whether that be through shape, colour, structure or style.
The other things that highly influence my jewellery designs are the seasons, Nobody wants to be decked with silver daisies in the middle of December, right?
My customers, that's right- you. I love meeting the people who buy, wear and love my jewellery. Whether I see you rocking our Feather Hoops on Instagram, meet you in the local pub or see you living in your moonstone ring taking your dog for a walk on the beach. I love to hear the feedback on my jewellery and what its like to wear. I also love to see your style, what you're pairing your jewellery with and what you're wearing it for. Knowing my customers is so important to me and making jewellery with them in mind is something I love doing. I find it so rewarding to see you loving designs I imagined you wearing whilst I made it.
Other designers. I don't believe in jealousy or negative competition. I love following my favourite designers and friends on Instagram and seeing whats inspiring them, what materials and tools they're loving and what amazing pieces they're creating. Its inspiring to see others following a similar dream and its so motivating to share their success.
I know so many influentual, stylish people. You may have noticed some of my designs are named after people, these are my friends, family or people who inspired the design. Just my little way of giving credit and a thank you for their influence.
The Design Process.
Some people think I can literally just pull together a design in seconds. They're not entirely correct. I can modify an existing design in seconds and make something similar to one of my old designs but with a slightly fresh edge. But to come up with a new design it takes a lot of time, trial (and sometimes expensive errors!) and some perfecting.
So with my business growing and my inspiration going crazy (At the minute! Sometimes I have blank months and can't make a single new design!) I am trying to get better at documenting my designs and ideas and saving some for a dull/uninspired month. This has been such a challenge for me as my instinct just wants to grab my tools and get making!! But this has been such a good lesson for me and taught me to take time and put more thought into each design before making it. If you follow me on Instagram, however, you will notice that this is so frustrating for me as I can't draw (hard to believe I studied art I know!) So there I am imagining this beautiful piece of jewellery and trying to figure out how to construct something so beautiful (I love that moment when I realise a design idea is achievable) and I put pencil to paper and find it looks like a weird type of fish or something you would get in a Sushi restaurant and refuse to eat. Its frustrating, to say the least. I won't post a photo to make you laugh.. Maybes I will later... We'll see.
So after I have squiggled out some funny shapes and written a page of notes and a list of tools and materials I will need, I have to start the search to find quality supplies to create quality pieces for you. This is the boring bit and usually involves a glass of wine and spending too much money! (It usually takes two attempt after I forget to read measurements and end up with tiny things that weren't what I imagined.)
Then I wait... and wait.. and BUZZ!! It arrives at the door. I tear into the parcel and unravel a ton of bubble wrap and get started. Some designs don't take long at all, others take months to perfect. It really depends on the skill required to make the piece and the details of the piece. Handmade isn't something that walks hand in hand with perfect, but I try my very best. (My quality control is VERY high, lots of my jewellery gets rejected as 'sellable' and is given to my mum or put in my personal box of jewellery.)
With every new design I release, I make one for myself, my mum or a friend and I ask them to wear it for a week or so and give me feedback. Was it durable? Was it easy to put on? Was in comfortable to wear for everyday tasks? Was it easy to style? After that I make up to five more. You will find with most of my jewellery I make no more that 20 of exactly the same design. If a design sells really well I modify it and change it (if I can) so they're always slightly different. I used to hate meeting my friends and finding them wearing the same thing as me, so I try to keep my jewellery as bespoke and original as possible. Limited edition, shall we say?
I won't bore you with what happens after a piece is made, the photographing, editing, description writing, posting and promoting. But I hope this gives you an insight into the love that goes into each design. I put my heart, soul and time into the jewellery you wear and love. It took me a long time to feel proud of what I create and do and that confidence is growing, thanks to you lovely customers who buy our jewellery and show me how much you love it. Thank you all so much.
Happy January and thanks for reading.
With love, Martha. x