Interview with Lesley Watt from THEAJewellery and THEAelements

THEAelements, handmade bronze leaves

Lesley Watt is well-known for her beautiful jewelry. And it seems her talent has no end as her gorgeous bronze and copper components, which she creates and sells since the beginning of 2012, are a huge success as well.
As a bead addict (yep, I admit it) I too have some of her beautiful bronze and copper bracelet bars and bronze pendants (love my owl). 
You can understand my excitement when Lesley agreed to do this interview.
 

Interview

Q: You’ve told me once you were a communications manager in a “previous” life. You are now a full-time jewelry and component designer. When did you decide to switch careers and was the transition difficult?
A: I gave up my full time marketing career at the end of 2010 and to be honest it wasn't a planned switch into full time jewellery design. After working in the same field for the best part of 30 years I realized I'd become jaded and was no longer enjoying what I was doing so I decided to quit. I thought I would probably take a few months break and then look for some part time work. I'd been selling my jewellery to friends and family for about 12 months and had been toying with the idea of setting up an Etsy shop for some time so this seemed like the perfect time to bite the bullet and see if I could sell more widely - I never looked back.

THEAjewellery, handmade necklace with art beads and Czech glass

I must point out though that my jewellery making in no way shape or form matches the income I was earning before. I consider myself very fortunate to have been financially secure enough to do this on something of a whim and had I needed it to fully provide me with a living income to cover mortgages and the like it would have been a far more considered decision and would have been a far more difficult transition. As it was, once I'd made the decision to stop doing something that was making me unhappy and devoting all my time to creative pursuits with only myself to answer to wasn't that difficult. Yes it's a big and scary leap to cut yourself off from a good regular income but if you can find a way to do it it's also very liberating and exciting.

THEAjewellery, handmade necklace with ceramic beads

Q: Are you self-taught?
A: Partly...I started off teaching myself beading techniques from books and online  resources and the more I got into it the more I wanted to to put something of myself into my work rather  than buying all my materials. I took a couple of weekend courses in basic silversmithing and silver clay and got completely hooked. I find that if I learn the basics in this way it's much easier to teach yourself the more advanced techniques as it gives you the confidence to experiment and try things for yourself. I've also taken 1 day courses in kiln enameling and metal etching and I now try to attend at least one course a year to learn a new technique – apart from anything else they're great fun. For 2014 I'm aiming to do some sort of ceramics course. Maybe extending my skills beyond jewellery.

THEAelements, handmade ceramic beads

Q: You are a successful jewelry designer. Since the beginning of 2011 you are a successful component designer as well, working with bronze and copper. Why did you decide to venture out in this direction.
A: As I've mentioned I wanted to put more of myself into my jewellery designs and that's why I started  making my own components and I began working in bronze clay because of the soaring  price of silver. When I showed these pieces on various social media sites I started getting enquiries from other jewellery designers about buying some of these pieces. So eventually I made the decision to set up another shop selling components just to test the water as I had no idea if there really was a market for my work. I was absolutely astounded by the response and I quickly became very busy with this side of my work. This has worked really well for me because I've have a huge passion for trying new things and it  gives me huge scope for doing that. I love the feeling I get when I post new designs and watch the reaction of my customers ...and you always get an instant response from jewellery designers who use art beads  - they're just so enthusiastic.

THEAelements, bronze seed pods

Q:  Since a couple of months you are exploring ceramic. Do you like to explore other materials as well, like glass or polymer clay?
A: I'm absolutely loving working with ceramic and there are just so many techniques to try out within this medium that I'm pretty sure it's going to be high on my priorities for a long time to come. I love the fact that you have some time to work with clay and that it can be used sculpturally and in so many other ways so I want to use it to develop more original and individual designs and rely less on commercial tools. With bronze clay you have to work so quickly to avoid drying that you're more limited to what you can do and of course, the cost influences the scale you can work on.
I have tried lamp-working and although it was fun it didn't grab me in the way other techniques have so I didn't pursue it. This is no bad thing as it's easy to spread yourself too thinly and there are so many brilliant lamp workers that I'm happy to support them for  my glass needs. I use polymer clay for mould making and testing designs but don't have any plans to take it any further at the moment. I'm sure I will discover something else along the way that takes my fancy though...that's just how my brain works.

Q: What inspires you in your work?
A: I take inspiration for my work from many, many things but particularly my everyday surroundings. I live in Dorset, a small and very beautiful county on the south coast of England between a Jurassic coastline that has been designated a world heritage site and the 'New Forest' which is not actually so new having been the hunting ground of William the Conqueror. Beach, sea and nature themed pieces feature heavily in both my jewellery and component work. Texture and colour are also of huge importance to me – camera phones are a godsend for snapping pictures of inspiring palettes and if I go out for a walk you can guarantee that my pockets will be stuffed with shells, leaves, stone...anything with an interesting texture on my return.

THEAelements, handmade bronze leaves

Q: You are designing jewelry and components,  you write blog posts for your own blog and are a regular contributor to Art Jewelry Elements. I’m curious: what does a typical day in the life of Lesley Watt looks like?
A: There's really no such thing as a typical day for me and I'm really pretty lucky to be able to work in a fairly relaxed way. I usually go straight into the studio in the morning and check out my emails and Etsy sales whilst eating my breakfast. If I'm firing ceramics or bronze that may dictate the activity for the day as I try not to fire overnight when I'm not around to keep an eye on things. Making ceramics is a long process and the process itself dictates my working day once I get going...a day or two making, a day firing the bisque, a day glazing, another day firing the glaze and so on. When the ceramic kilns are on I may be working in bronze (same process but shorter firing times), designing jewellery, photographing and listing pieces for my Etsy shop, writing blog posts or tutorials...a whole host of things. So while I have no hard and fast schedule and can be very flexible with the way I work things do tend to fall into a pattern and I always have a mountain of things to do.

Q: There are a lot of bead and jewelry artists. Is there a particular artist you admire or who you consider a role model?
A: Masses of them...when you're part of a creative community you can't help but be inspired by the people you come across. In the metal clay field I'm a big fan of Wanaree Tanner – an exceptional and innovative artist who I couldn't even dream of emulating, who shares her inspiration and enthusiasm and who makes me want to try. In the ceramic world I'm a huge fan of the work of Karen Totten because the textures and colours within her designs are so appealing to me and her inspiration is always fascinating. Karen also helped and encouraged me enormously with my own ceramic efforts which I am hugely grateful for. For jewellery there are so many people I admire but one of the first I came across, and who fueled my desire to take up metal working was Stacey Perry of Hodgepodgerie. I never got as proficient as I'd have liked to in this area as other things took over but I want to do do more this year and I regularly go back to Stacey's work and continue to be inspired.

Q: You have achieved a lot in the bead and jewelry world. Is there a next goal you want to accomplish?
A: My goal for this year is really to consolidate and improve on what I'm already doing. Ceramic and metal clay are the areas I will be concentrating on for components but I would also like to spend more time on improving my etching, enameling and metal work skills.

THEAelements, copper pendants

My jewellery design has taken a bit of a back seat of late and I do think I need to reassess this area. I feel a change or development of style may be imminent...a kind of natural progression  but I'm not exactly sure to what or how at the moment so that is another area I would like to focus on.

Q: If you were not a bead and a jewelry artist, what would you be doing?

A: That's a difficult one as I have a tendency to fall into things rather than plan or have a vision of what I want to do. I might well still be working in marketing if I needed to make a decent living but if I could do something for the sheer pleasure I would probably run an independent or antiquarian book shop. I doubt I would make any money as I'd be sat in a huge comfy armchair reading, drinking good coffee and ignoring customers, but then I guess I could have staff..
I would also like to finish the Open University Humanities degree I started six years ago... education is so much more fulfilling when it's undertaken for pleasure. I haven't had time to continue with this in recent years but I will finish it even if I have to wait until my hands are too old and battered to make jewellery!

THEAjewellery, necklace with handmade seed pod

Q: Do you have a life motto and if so, would you like to share this with us?A:
A: I'm not really one for motto's but a while ago I found one on Pinterest that appealed to me..
'Life doesn't have a remote, you have to get up and change it yourself'. I've made a couple of scary and brave choices to change things in my life in the last ten years that have been incredibly liberating. I wish I had appreciated this idea earlier but that's all part of life's journey and now if I find myself with doubts my mantra tends to be 'if you don't like it, change it'. Not that the 'doing' is always easy of course....

Q: Do you have tips and tricks you like to share with us?
A: If I were to offer one tip it would be be true to yourself and don't be tempted to compare. By which I mean don't compare your work, your style, your sales, your success, your prices with those of others because it will only cause you heartache. You don't know how anyone else runs their business so any comparison will be at best inaccurate. If someone is selling the same type of thing as you at half the price they might be doing it as a hobby and just covering their material costs. If they're selling three times more than you then they may be selling to friends or paying for marketing opportunities or working 3 times longer than you. They may have different goals from you too...I don't make my entire living from jewellery so selling huge quantities is not my key driver whereas for others it may be essential.
This is a very simplistic approach and obviously if you're running a jewellery making business you need to know your market and your competition but you're better off expending effort on your own designs and plans than focusing on what others are doing.

Thank you so much for this lovely interview Lesley!

You can find Lesley’s gorgeous jewelry in her etsy shop THEAjewellery and her wonderful components in her etsy shop THEAElements. Follow her through her blog and read her regular contributions on www.artjewelryelements.blogspot.com.

This interview would not be complete without some sort of a give-away.
And do I have a surprise for you. There is not going to be one give-away, no, there are going to be two (!). Yes, you heard that right.

The first give-away

Lesley is so very generous and she contributed this gorgeous ceramic beads and beautiful bronze pendant set. All lovingly handmade by herself.

THEAelements, give away
 
THEAelements, give-away handmade ceramic beads and bronze pendant

 

The second give-away

A necklace made by moi, with that gorgeous owl pendant I have been hoarding for sometime now. To be honest, it is very difficult to part with, but I know it will get a good home. The pendant is handmade by Lesley and it's bronze. The lampies have beautiful brown/green hues which are very hard to capture in the picture. They are from Lizbeads. A copper leaf link and leather cord completes the design.

Esfera Jewelry, handmade necklace with bronze owl pendant and lampwork glassbeads
 

Esfera Jewelry, handmade necklace with lampwork beads and handmade bronze owl pendant

Esfera Jewelry, handmade necklace with art beads 

Esfera Jewelry, handmade bohemian necklace with artbeads and leather 

All you have to do to enter is comment on this post, to get a change to win one of these give-aways. Easy peasy.
Note: if you are not a jewelry designer and like to only participate in the necklace give-away, please say so in your comment. Or, if you like, I can always make you something from the gorgeous bead set if you like to participate in both give-aways and you win the bead set.
And if you absolutely have no interest in the necklace (it can happen ) please say in your comment you're only want to participate in the give-away of the beadset.
 

There are lots of ways you can increase your chances of winning too...

Do any of the following and leave an additional comment each time and you will get an extra entry for each one:

·    Share this give-away on your own blog
·    Share this give-away on your Facebook pages, Google+, Twitter etc.
·    Subscribe to my newsletter
·    Become a new follower of my facebook page
·    Become a new follower of the facebook page of THEAjewellery
·    Follow me on Pinterest
.    Follow Lesley on Pinterest
.    Follow me on google+
·    Like my Etsy shop
·    Like THEAjewellery on etsy
.    Like THEAelements on etsy
.    Follow Lesley Watt's blog
·    Anything else you can think of to spread the word.

Don't forget to leave a separate comment for each method to maximize your chances though!

Please don't let the captcha scare you off. It is to prevent the spam robots enter this give-away as well.

The draw will close at 10am GMT on Sunday January 19, 2014 and I will randomly select and announce the winners later that day.

The next artist in this series of interviews with Bead Artists will be Pippa Chandler, well known from her gorgeous polymer clay art beads which she sells under the name of Pips/Pipsjewellery.

 

giveaway

Liked THEAelements on Etsy

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Liked THEAjewellery on Etsy

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Liked your etsy shop!

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Followed THEAjewellery on FB

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Followed you on FB!

Giveaway

Like. Shared on both. Love all the items on both sites. Hope I a lucky.

Giveaway

I shared the giveaway on Facebook.

Pinterest

I followed Lesley on Pinterest! I thought I already had...I was surprised to find out I was not. For Shame!!

Giveaway

Fantastic interview! I think Lesley was one of the first jewelry artist I started following on Facebook. I've only started dabbling in this myself in the last year. I would be happy to.win either prize!

Wonderful post - Sharing,

Wonderful post - Sharing, liking, tweeting, blogging - it's been a while since I shared a giveaway - love the elements. I'm ready to recharge my own designs & this might just do it. Oh, and owls? You bet!
Thanks!
T

Wow. All of these pieces are

Wow. All of these pieces are gorgeous.

Great Interview!

Great interview Janine, keep doing them as it's interesting to read what has inspired component/jewellery designers to do whata they do!
:)

following Lesley's blog

I'm a follower on Lesley's blog.

subscribed to your newsletter

This was one of the best interviews I've ever read ... delightful and so many words of wisdom. Every new medium Lesley tackles spreads wonderful new work to the bead world.
Love both giveaways - thank you!!

Extra likes

And I already like your shop, both of Lesley's shops and follow Lesley's blog too. My faves may be private though, I can't remember, so you might not see me....!

:-)

Beautiful work from both of you! Great interview Janine. Please stick my name in the hat for both giveaways!

Shared on both my pages

Shared on both my pages woohoo, I love all your work both of you but them you ready know that!!

I have subscribed to your

I have subscribed to your blog, already did Lesley's ages ago lol

I like both your pages

I like both your pages already as they are fab xx

Giveaway

I am already a follower of both THEAElements and Esfera Jewellery shops and Facebook pages for some time. I have now just signed up to your wonderful Blog posts Janine so I am updated on all your wonderful work and travels.

I love Lesley's work and have

I love Lesley's work and have had the chance to play with her components and have a beautiful necklace that I made and really love. I follow her blog, and check out her Etsy shops.

Giveaway

I follow Leslie Watt's blog, Gossiping Goddess as KayzKreationz

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I 'like' THEAelements on Etsy as KayzKreationz

Giveaway

I just tweeted about your interview and giveaway.

https://twitter.com/kayzkreationz/status/423112808855642113

Giveaway

I love her work. What a great interview. Her beads are so awesome and the necklace you created with her owl is so great.

Following Lesley's blog

I'm a follower of Lesley's blog!

Angi Mullis dj2isme@aol.com

liked Theaelements etsy page

Liked Theaelements etsy page!

Angi Mullis dj2isme@aol.com

liked Theajewellery etsy page

Liked Theajewellery etsy page!

Angi Mullis dj2isme@aol.com

Liked your etsy page

Liked your etsy page!

Angi Mullis dj2isme@aol.com

Following Lesley on Pinterest

Now following Lesley on Pinterest!

Angi Mullis dj2isme@aol.com

Following you on Pinterest

I'm now following you on Pinterest!

Angi Mullis dj2isme@aol.com

Following Theajewellery on FB

I'm a new follower on Theajewellery on FB!

Angi Mullis dj2isme@aol.com

Following on FB

I'm a new follower on your FB!

Angi Mullis dj2isme@aol.com

THEA GIVEAWAY

What a fantastic giveaway! Pretty please count me in!

Angi Mullis dj2isme@aol.com

Shared on blog

I got it together to share this giveaway on my own blog! I love the beads and the necklace. Thanks for the chance!

Someone Lovely To Know!

Thank you for sharing Miss Lesley with us! I am in awe of the fact that she reinvented herself, just got up and changed the channel as it were! I do so enjoy her work, especially her bronze clay that has the colorful patinas. I won a necklace of hers with a beautiful owl (so really someone else should win that lovely necklace!) but I would love to put my hat in the running for the beads! Thank you for the wonderful interview. Enjoy the day. Erin

Giveaway

Wondful giveaway! I'm following you on your blog.

Already following Lesley's

Already following Lesley's blog! I think that's the whole list ticked!! Xx

Already love both of Lesley's

Already love both of Lesley's Etsy stores xx

I already favourite your Etsy

I already favourite your Etsy shop xx

Now following you on Google +

Now following you on Google + xx

Now following Lesley on

Now following Lesley on Pinterest xx

Already following you on

Already following you on Pinterest xx

Already like and follow all

Already like and follow all your pages on FB xx

Subscribed to your

Subscribed to your newsletter......why had I not already done this?!! Xx

Shared on FB personal profile

Shared on FB personal profile xx

Shared on FB page xx

Shared on FB page xx

Giveaway

I shared on my Facebook page. Oh, I dream of winning.

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I am following Lesley on Pintrest. I dove her jewelry and components.

Giveaway

I am following you on Pinterest . Your interview is well done and I love your necklace. Owls are a favorite f mine. I would give it a loving home!