Second year student Elizabeth Evans studies classics at Leeds University whilst running a thriving jewellery business on the side. Fashion Print Editor Iona Tompkins interviews her to find out more about her designs.
IT: I’m quite interested in the processes involved with your jewellery so could you tell me a little bit more about that, for example how each design comes about?
EE: It completely depends on the design! Some of the ear cuffs I make are very simple, I can just order sheet metal and make it out of that, using saws then filling them down, texturizing them and finally polishing them with a polishing wheel. My more complicated designs require some additional steps like soldering or putting them in acid solutions or rinsing them a certain number of times. A lot of my ideas just pop into my head, but I do try and visit a variety of museums and galleries for some additional ideas. I’m particularly interested in ancient designs, which I believe comes across subtly in my work.
IT: I’m aware you do a degree in classics, do you think that impacts your designs at all?
EE: Yeah definitely, I live near the Roman Baths down south and I like to visit their extensive Roman jewellery collection as often as I can. I use mostly gold tones in my designs, which is heavily inspired by both Roman and Egyptian jewellery. Although I don’t study it directly in my course, I really enjoy looking at ancient art, it inspires my work a lot. It’s always interesting to use my course for inspiration and reference.
IT: Are there any pieces that you’re particularly proud of or that are particularly memorable for you?
EE: Ohhh good question. I quite like a gold pair I made a while ago where one piece was texturized and one was smoothly polished. Although the earrings look simple at first glance, you can wear them about six different ways by moving the different parts around to make an ear jacket or studs or have them dangling, which is pretty nifty. I personally like to have just one pair of earrings as a signature pair, so it’s nice to be able to wear them again and again and do different things with them. I’m quite pleased with that, and I think it’s quite unique as well. I’ll also always have a soft spot for the first pair of earrings I ever made. It was in a jewellery class and they’re an ear jacket with a gold hoop at the front and a silver hoop at the back, with a little bit of labradorite set into them. I think they look quite special and are important because they’ve helped set my style.
IT: At the moment you focus almost exclusively on pieces that are for the ear, do you have any plans to expand in the future?
EE: Yes! I’ve been getting back into making rings recently, getting to grips with details like sizing them accurately. I love making rings, but I find them a bit trickier than earrings. I think this is because I see earrings as an integral part of an outfit, so ideas for designing them tend to come a lot more naturally and freely to me. I also appreciate the fact that I can make my earrings from scratch whereas if I was making a necklace, I’d only be able to make the pendant and would have to outsource the chain. I prefer having control of the production of the whole piece if possible. I’ve been getting quite a lot of commissions and requests to measure people and make rings to size which I’ve really enjoyed, so hopefully I can keep that up and make some sets in the future – but I guess we’ll just have to see where it goes!
IT: Do you have any advice to any other students who’d like to turn their hobbies into a small business or have become quite inspired by what you’re doing and want to give it a go?
EE: If there’s anything you want to get involved in just do a couple of workshops or classes to start of with. Hunt around in your local area or look for Facebook groups. After that it’s just all about having confidence in what you do, I know for a long time I didn’t have the confidence to turn my creations into a business. If you have confidence and people back you and like your designs that’s all the validation you need! At the end of the day, if you like what you’re doing then go for it, and make sure you do talk to anyone you can about the business side of things. I know I’m not the most business minded so some of my friends have given me pointers which have been invaluable.
IT: Thanks so much Elizabeth and that’s it from me!
Elizabeth has a stall at the Neighbourhood Collective Christmas Craft Fair on the 1st of December.
To discover more about Elizabeth’s designs, find her on Instagram @elizabethfje.design , and on Etsy and Facebook under ‘Elizabethfje.Design’.