What Paper Jewellery Has Taught Me:
People: ” What happens when it rains?” …
Me: ” You put up an umbrella?!”
Paper jewellery brought to me the beginning of my career in design, I’m not sure I ever expected it to play such a large part of who I have become as a designer and a business woman. It’s insightful to look back and reflect how it made me strong (both in its triumphs and tribulations)within a competitive field, not bad for such a simple, unassuming material. People always ask ‘why?’, ‘why paper?’ and I wanted to write a post that perhaps might explain it, it might not but perhaps I’ll try none the less.
Paper has always been an intuitive material for me, a resource that always gave me the possibility to translate what I had in my head into a real, tangible thing, a true being. Paper for me was not a drawing material in a sense that most people see it, (putting pen to paper was not something that necessarily made sense to me) nor was it productive but instead the tactile texture in between my fingers and crisp edges I was able to form were what was able to offer me an avenue to express ideas into a three dimensional form, through ‘play’. With a little experience under my belt and having now worked with students of all ages in various disciplines, I find anything that allows a creative to continue their thought process and ‘keep moving’ is something to be encouraged. For myself and I know for many of the students I have observed, it’s possibly the most dire predicament to find yourself being in a stunted limbo, a space where you’re forcing your creative thought process, finding yourself not being true to yourself or enabling you to fully realise your capability – the most frustrating thing for anyone, especially those with a flair for creativity. So paper gave me this.
The ‘paper thing’ over the years has really caused many people to be fairly bemused by me, sometimes looking on with the most patronising of looks in my direction, some days it’s been tough to continue on with the vision that felt true to me, despite what often felt like a continued negativity and misunderstanding from probably the majority of people that I met. But for those few who didn’t feel the need to question my practice and the simple honest look of ‘getting it’ was enough to fill up my determination tank and continue on, with what often felt like a true battle.
From what was initially a concept developed during a final year module at University, paper has led me to paying rent and having my very own (home) studio, all from the sales of that crazy ‘paper jewellery stuff’ that to most ‘ordinaries’ would have been a flash in the pan two second concept that would never have seen the light of day. From the days when laser cutting was seriously advanced stuff, I’ve come some way, in fact considering since I started folding that pulpy stuff to make body adornments, I’d say I’ve done most of what is possible … undertaken workshops and lecturing, written a book, received worldwide press and gallery/retailer presence and now have a range of almost 4 collections that I sell and send all over the world week in, week out. And though that’s all lovely, I’d still say it was a struggle, with this determination comes perfectionism and that reality of never quite being satisfied with what you may have already accomplished. However despite the angst and daily trauma of running my own business, there’s simply no way I would swap this for the 9-5, to me all the risks far outweighs the reality of being ‘safe’ working in one of the many demoralising and unfulfilling positions of many of the ‘day jobs’ out there.
In recent months I’ve been privileged to find a little time to get some clarity on my business and it feels like an honour to be able to see the future path. I think you can spend such a lot of time with your vision blurred by just holding together the day-to-day, but when the dust settles and you have moments to clean the cogs, it’s amazing how things seem to fall into place. Of course in reality everything is still very much an experiment, I’m not sure why that Facebook post got 10 interactions and then the next simply nothing and I don’t have a clue why pictures of my feet in new shoes on Instagram receives so much more love than a beautifully taken professional product shot of my jewellery but for as long as I’m enjoying it, I’m trying hard not to question it all and simply remain true to myself and my business.
Paper, (the flat stuff) led me to paper in the yarn form which then led me to cotton in the string form which had now led me to stones in the natural form. A slightly disjointed path for many perhaps but for as long as I don’t thing too much about the ‘why’s’ everything is ‘allowed’ to feel positive, ‘right’ some how. I have a new collection just about to launch, it was quite quick in its conception, because I trusted my intuition. Time is precious and though of course I’d recommend giving collections as much time as they need to develop them as you see fit, I also think as a designer you know, and if you don’t know then I guess pretend you know because really you are probably always going to be your biggest critic. For me, it’s not really anyones place to tell me if I’m being right or wrong as that’s what felt right, at that moment in time and for me the truth is in seeing people in my jewellery. Admirers spending their hard earned cash on something they want to be seen in. There’s no better reward really for what I do and it’s really less about the money thing (seriously I would have become a lawyer if I actually wanted that mansion) it’s more about the appreciation. I admire people that take a risk and I love that people (I hope) see that in me. I’m happy to do things a little different, a little bigger, perhaps a little ‘quirkier’ (as my jewellery has been called so many times!) than every day, and for me what better thing in the world to be but an innovator? The reality of this is sometimes that I will get it right and sometimes, many times no doubt I will get it wrong but ultimately I am and hope I will always be willing to put my neck on the line and give it a go, right or wrong – I feel honoured I have the bravery to be that person in this life.
One last thought I wanted to leave with you …
I thank those who have supported me … to the ones that ‘get it’ – I am privileged that you chose my jewellery, YOU inspire me everyday! Sarah xxx
(Thank you to all the selfie takers … just a few of my gorgeous customers.)
PS. If you’d like me share some of your amazing images, please drop us a line.