It’s rare to come across things that a truly unique, but the hand painted ceramic jewellery of this week’s creative corner interviewee is. I do hope you enjoy reading about Alexandra Symons Designs and looking at her beautiful work.
1. Introduce yourself.
Hi my name is Alexandra Symons, (Alex for short) and my company is just ALEXANDRA SYMONS DESIGNS , the reason I used my name and the choice of designs instead of jewellery is because I don’t just make jewellery, I love most crafts and also make cards, paint furniture and boots with personalised art also I love interior design and do room transformations plus lots more. On my cards it says jewellery and maker of things which puts in in a nut shell so’s to speak.
2. Tell us a bit about Alexandra Symons Designs.
I am a qualified Applied Artist with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree, specialising in silversmithing and ceramics. I work from home in my little studio in North Wales mainly making unique designed, handcrafted jewellery in beautiful Ming porcelain and silver.
3. What made you start your own business?
The reason I started my own business was so I could work from home and look after my kids in the school holidays and if they were off sick, but also because I’ve always been a ‘maker’ and craftswoman and wanted to work for myself and lead a more creative life.
4. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
studied at university but I was very disappointed with the actual so called practical lessons and so took it in my own hands to read and watch hundreds of hours of how to videos , so I could reach a very high standard of professional making in a short time, I would say since leaving university with my 2/1 that I have taught myself ceramics and all of my techniques are learnt and perfected through experimentation and hard work. I would say everyday I work with clay I learn something new , and improved my techniques.
They say it takes 10’000 hours of work to be a master of it, I think I’m getting there !
5. Explain your creative process.
My process starts off with wet porcelain clay, I roll it and turn it to the required thickness for whatever I’m making that day, then I cut out my piece and hand sculpt and push design stamps in to each piece to create individual and unique pieces of jewellery all different from one another, I leave to dry for a few days.I work in small batches.when they are all completely dry I very carefully sand by hand all rough edges then put in kiln for their first firing for 9 hours.
Once cooled the day after I hand sand and shape again then hand paint each piece very carefully, I finish by varnishing a few and leave to dry, once dry I fire again at 1200 degrees for 11 hrs. Once cooled I then choose the best pieces to turn in to pendants , brooches and earrings.
Any pieces that I want to add gold on to in the form of 22 ct gold lustre has to be glazed, fired again then carefully hand painted with the real liquid gold and fired again for 9 hrs. So it is a very time consuming process.
6. Describe your typical day.
A typical day is up early, turn off my kiln , which fires through the night, and get kids up for school and do all the mum jobs. Once I’ve checked all emails and orders I empty the kiln if pieces are cool enough and sort them out in to what’s worked and what hadn’t, as I’m very picky. Once out and sorted I sometimes start adding the silver findings and chains and get them finished off and photographed to add to one of my shops online or to send the pictures to one of my suppliers.
I stop to feed my 6 cats and puppy a couple of times at least throughout the day and make a few cups of earl gray tea to keep me going ! I package up orders to send out and try to keep up with my social networking constantly in case I need to answer a potential customers queries, and before I know it it’s time to pick up my kids from school and do dinner and chores ready for the next day.
Working from home has good and bad points, the main ones are your your own boss so if you need to do other things like cooking , decorating, shopping or looking after sick kids you can BUT the bad side is you usually end up working stupid long late hours to make up for it, and you work yourself a lot harder than you could ask an employee to work, if I had a boss like me I’d quit haha.
7. What’s your biggest seller?
My best selling items are pendants with my British wildlife hand drawn designs on. The National Trust shops in Wales stock a lot of these pieces. My jewellery is known for each piece being unique. I say every piece of Alexandra Symons Designs jewellery is as individual as it’s wearers.
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8. What would be your top tips for running your own creative business?
9. What are your aspirations for Alexandra Symons Designs?
10. Where can we find you?
You can see my work on my Facebook page ALEXANDRA SYMONS DESIGNS, which has a link to my Etsy shop. I’m also on Pinterest, Twitter, and wix but am in the process of having a new website made.
MY ETSY shop is called Little Swine Design .