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Author Topic: AOTM November 2007 - George Harper East  (Read 5596 times)
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Posts: 104

« on: October 31, 2007, 02:48:44 PM »

The featured artist for November is:

I started making jewellery (as do so many) as a child - I was lucky enough to have an amazingly talented and creative mother and grandmother who encouraged experimentation and artistic exploration - and who were brave enough to wear the results in public. To this day, my mother is probably my best ‘customer’ and cheerfully wears or displays the results of many of my enthusiasms.

I’ve drifted through lots of areas including fabric arts, stained glass, knitting (not good with a wool allergy), embroidery, and many others. Having studied design and typography, I worked for many years in advertising - including some stints in fairly odd places - launching deodorant in Russia was something of a challenge (first we had to explain the need…..), along with automatic washing powder in the middle east, where water resources, let alone washing machines, are scarce. We once ran a promotion where the prize was a choice of a washing machine or a water buffalo. The water buffalo was hugely popular.

We finally moved back to the UK in 2001, and after my daughter was born in 2003 (I am a geriatric mother), I was able to stay at home, at least through her early childhood (and I am hugely grateful to my lovely partner for this). After years of very technical, computer based design and creativity, I wanted to get back to making things by hand, and became quite seriously involved in stamping and papercraft. I was published regularly in both US and British magazines, but disliked the whole papercraft 'industry' and after moving out of London to the Cotswolds a couple of years ago, started playing with my beads and silver again. In the process, I managed to develop a serious addiction to artisan lampwork beads. I'd done some silversmithing many years ago, but I had no safe space for fire and chemicals with a baby in the house. This led to playing with wire, and I started to feel like I'd found a medium I really liked.
I've always spent a lot of time in the West Indies, and having decided to take an extended two month holiday there earlier this year, needed to be able to pack a creative 'kit' to keep me occupied that didn't involve taking four tons of beads to play with, so chose to take some seedbeading things, and, as it turned out more importantly, to teach myself maille properly.

Armed with lots of copper wire, a tiny amount of silver and a selection of instructions, I was instantly hooked. The seedbeading was OK, but not really for me - though I love wearing the pieces I made and have a bigger than ever admiration for the magic woven by proper seedbeaders. Maille, on the other hand, felt like coming home. I taught myself a dozen basic weaves there and then, and have since worked up pretty much every pattern I can find. My first proper piece was a Jens Pind Linkage bracelet in three colours of copper which I gave to my partner.

Best of all was discovering that I could combine my love of glass and gemstones with metal to create pieces that other people seemed to enjoy as much as I do.

Once again, with the encouragement of my long-suffering but lovely partner, I decided to put a little website together to supplement direct sales and commissions and 'by george' was reborn.
 I still feel in many ways I am a bit of a parvenu, and one of the things I've enjoyed the most about the whole process has been how warm and welcoming the online community has been - both in terms of finding supplies, ideas, fantastic eye candy and (of course) gorgeous beads to buy. I am hugely impressed at the amazing talent to be found in the UK, and rarely look anywhere else - in spite of the fact that most of my inspiration comes from the islands of the West Indies - especially my 'real' home in Antigua. I love to draw on the textures and colours of the islands, the music and the culture, tempered a little by my heritage on my mother's side which gives me my love of the cooler hues of the stone and sea of the West coast of Sweden. Not surprisingly, all my pieces are named after islands, and this in itself often leads to new ideas.

Inevitably, I am now too hooked on beads not to want to have a go at making my own, so once our outside studio is finished in the spring, I will no doubt be joining the ranks of the newbie torchers. Equally inevitable will be the endless silly questions I'll come up with then.

I still find the whole process of selling horribly daunting. Too many years in advertising makes me uncomfortable with the whole hard sell involved in face-to-face encounters, and whilst the internet is a wonderful tool, it is hard to expect anyone to appreciate what is ultimately a very tactile piece from a distance. Now that my daughter is in school, I will be steeling myself to approach some local galleries, and perhaps tapping back into some of my old London contacts. There's a big part of me that would still much rather simply barter (which I do a lot in the WI). If I could find a grocer with a serious jewellery habit I'd be very happy indeed. In the meantime, I sell through, and through word of mouth contacts.

Finally, I'd love to thank all of you, and especially Izzy for this - I have loved reading these profiles, and feel very honoured to be part of such a special place.

« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 05:56:22 AM by mizgeorge » Logged

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