Andrea Gardiner – A Jeweller Juggling all the Plates!

   Hello Andrea! It’s great having you here, I’m a major fan of jewellery design and a sucker for a good earring, how did you get to become a jeweller.

Hi Shonagh! That’s so nice to hear, I’m a sucker for an earring too they are my favourite to make and wear. So my first intention when I applied for Duncan of Jordanstone was to become an artist because I originally did landscape paintings. However, in the 2nd Semester of our first year we had the opportunity to go to the other departments in the university and I chose the Jewellery and Metal Department; after spending 3 weeks there I was besotted and found a true love for jewellery design.  I really enjoyed creating large sculptural pieces that could be worn on the body which was more like wearable art. Which is one of the reasons my jewellery is often more large, I love a good statement piece!

I find the process behind making jewellery fascinating, there’s actually a lot of chemistry behind it, it’s not just making things pretty! What process do you usually work with? And are there any you hope to try in the future that you haven’t before?

Yes there is so much to do when it comes to jewellery, there are so many various methods that I am still to learn because the options are endless. There is a vast amount of ways you c an choose to specialise in jewellery and different types such as fashion jewellery, fine jewellery, conceptual pieces, forensic jewellery…which are all kinds I would like to explore further but for now I have mainly been focused on fashion jewellery where I use silver and mixed materials. I love doing etching where I can create a 2D design and transfer it onto the metal by engraving or acid-etching. I also enjoy manipulating paper, leather, clay into various shapes inspired by my drawings and combine them with the metal to create an interesting contrast. I would like to focus on creating large sculptural silver pieces this year and perhaps some 3D printing for a change.

 

Are there any meanings behind the work you create? Who or what inspires your work?

Yes each collection I do is inspired by my heritage of Scottish and Mexican which I’m very lucky to have and it is a big part of who I am. Therefore it leaves me with several avenues that I can go down for example my Folklorico collection is inspired by the movement of the dresses of the traditional folk dancers in Mexico. I also have a Water Lily Collection which is inspired by the Water Lillies that are on my favourite walk in Pitlochry Scotland.

 

Putting on my jewellery is part of my daily routine and I feel almost naked without it – do you feel the same? What do you want people to feel when they wear their jewellery? What is it like when you see people wearing your products?

That’s really nice that it is part of your daily routine and that is one of the things I love about jewellery. It is a way of portraying your personality and as it is something that is everlasting it is really cool to be able to create something that is part of someone’s life. I love wearing jewellery but before I made jewellery I wore it a lot more than I do now because I think I became a lot more aware of what I was wearing and the significance of it. When I see people wear my own jewellery it is a huge reminder of why I love doing what I do because I can see them feeling happy and sometimes more confident. I sometimes surprise myself too by seeing how good they look on and it’s a great feeling.

 

So you have a studio at Wasps, Perth, what are the facilities like there? Are you surrounded by other jewellers and artists?

It’s fantastic it has amazing facilities and everyone is always available to help each other. Sometimes there are collaborations between people which is really nice to see. There is a room called The Famous Grouse Centre, that has Mac Computers, 3D printers, laser cutters and more for both the public and tenants to use to design their ideas. I am very lucky to be a tenant at Perth Creative Exchange, everyone is lovely and the building is a beautiful and fresh with views looking over at Kinhoull Hill. There are two other jewellers in the building that I have a really good friendship with and we all have completely different styles but we sometimes share tools and advice which is fantastic.

 

We know you’re working two jobs at the moment, how do you find running your own business AND working somewhere else, how do you find time for your practice?

It’s extremely difficult and is a temporary measure but it is something that is helping me pursue my other dreams such as travelling and saving for a house. It also helps me learn more about hospitality as I aim to have my own café one day where I do jewellery classes as well as being more social as my studio can be feel quite lonely. However, I have realised how damaging it can be to your body and soul if you work too much so I’ve recently created a stricter diary for myself. I have 24 hour access to my studio which also means I can make jewellery at any time, so I spend a few hours every day either before an evening shift or after a day shift to create my designs. It is hard but I believe the hard work will pay off.

 

Any obstacles you have faced running your own business? If so, what advice would you give to jewellers starting out?

 

Never give up and stick to what love. There are so many different styles of jewellery and sometimes we shy away from the jewellery that we enjoy making but keep going. Work on your business everyday no matter how small and remember to market yourself. And have fun! Enjoy every moment.

 

We LOVED having you at the St James Quarter pop-up last year, have you got any pop-ups planned for this year?

Thank you! I loved it too it was such an amazing experience! I am doing several markets throughout the year and my next one will be Perthshire Creates outside Perth Museum which I used to see when I was young so I’m quite looking forward to that one. I would love to organise another pop-up shop with Sook again but as a group as opposed to myself. I will also have several markets throughout the year which I’m looking forward to I enjoy meeting customers and getting feedback on my work.

 

What’s your dream for the business in years to come? Where would you like to be 1 year from now.

I would love to do a fashion show with larger pieces of jewellery and do a pop-up café along with my jewellery next year and between now and then just continue to be better every day both for myself and my business.

 

You’ve been a member of WBS for some time now, what do you love most about being part of this community?

I love being part of the WBS Community, everyone is so lovely and welcoming and often any fears or stresses just melt away the minute I step inside one of the networking events. I always take something away after a networking event whether it is a start to a collaboration or the fact that I leave feeling more motivated and confident. I just love the support network WBS has created everyone is friendly and so inspiring. My mental health has declined rapidly over the last few months which can be hard as you need to remain strong for your business but being part of WBS can really change that.

The photographs included in this article were taken by Mrs Photoshoot! Magdalena met Andrea at our V&A Networking in May! We’re so pleased that through our networking these two women were able to connect and collaborate!

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