Today we're so excited to share with you a guest post from Kate, the jewellery designer behind Little Silver Star.
Getting your jewellery workshop right can be a tricky task and although you don't need a huge amount of space, it's important to ensure things are stored properly and are accessible while you're working on a project - but the most important thing is that it's a space you love working in!
Kate recently gave her space a makeover, so we asked her to show us around her space full of personality and tell us her top tips and tricks for the perfect workspace.
Need tips on setting up your workspace for the first time and getting a workbench?
I was actually inspired by a competition that the people who own my building Meanwhile Creative were running. The competition was to win a months free rent for the best workshop makeover. It was too late for me take part but looking at all the amazing workshop transformations really made me think I want to do mine now.
I am a very 'spur of the moment' person so I just decided to do it there and then, me and my boyfriend went to B&Q and bought the paint and we got to work. I love colour so much and my fashion is very colour centric and I also have really colourful hair so I wanted to extend this to my work shop. I spend so much time there that I want somewhere that feels comfortable and cheerful and that makes me happy when I am there. Its really hard sometimes running a small business and you never have time to do anything so it's nice to have a safe comfy space to work in.
I am from Wolverhampton but moved to Bristol in 2016. I have been making jewellery for about 8 years, silversmithing for about 4 and a half and have been in business since February 2014 - so coming up to 4 years. I am fully self-taught and am learning new skills all the time.
A lot of my designs can be personalised and I love to use colour wherever possible. My spinner rings are my bestselling product and what I am most known for, but I also do lots of different stacking rings and necklaces earrings and bangles. I also use handstamping in many of my pieces and have worked with an illustrator to develop design stamps that are exclusive to Little Silver Star, most recently with my Starry Foxes Collection.
I wanted a space that would make me happy whenever I entered it and I also wanted some cool backdrops to take photos for my Facebook and Instagram. I love to use colour in my jewellery wherever possible with colourful stones or enamel and resin. I am also into Japanese fashion which is really colourful and I also have blue hair haha.
I make so many rings so definitely my ring mandrel, saw and rawhide hammer. I also could not live without my mitre cutting jig which makes filing straight lines so easy and my most prized piece of kit my GRS Benchmate for stone setting.
Ikea is so great for space saving ideas so a lot of my stuff is from there. The magnetic strips hold my stamps, files and burnishers (or anything else metal and not too heavy). I have some of their wall rails with hanging hooks that hold lots of my mandrels and filing sticks. These are all in easy reach of my right hand (I am right handed) so that it makes my working time more efficient. I also have some cool little drawers from Lidl that hold all my stones and casts and ring blanks and Wilko have these amazing under shelf baskets which are great for splitting up orders and stuff without taking up too much shelf space.
Christmas 2016 was so busy for me, actually that whole year was really overwhelming. The business expanded really rapidly and I wasn’t quite ready for it. I had so many orders that Christmas and I had to work 18 hour days, 7 days a week in the 6 weeks running up to Christmas. Sometimes I was so tired I would fall asleep at my bench as I had nowhere comfy to go in my workshop.
So when I was decorating I knew I want to add a comfy area to my studio. Somewhere I could just relax in and be able to get away from it all for a while. The little seat actually folds out into a bed and I have a blanket and some pillows so if I want to have a little nap when I have been working too hard I can haha. It is also a great place for my 4 year old daughter to go if she comes into the studio with me, she actually thinks that it is her space and that I made it especially for her.
That area also has some display boxes in it so that if I do an open studio or customers come to visit I can some jewellery on display. I am actually going to be doing some silversmithing workshops in the future so it will also be a good place to take photos of the students work.
It doesn’t have to be expensive, I picked up my paint really cheap from B&Q and places like B&M, Wilkos and Ebay are great for getting bargains. Ikea is just brilliant for space saving ideas so its good to go to their store for inspiration, also if you google Ikea hacks you will get so many ideas. You don’t have to do it all at once, I actually implemented a lot of my space saving things at the beginning of the year and then waited until now to do the painting.
Pinterest and Instagram are so good for getting ideas too. Also make sure you get someone to help you, I couldn’t have done I without my boyfriend and my workshop assistant Laura. There was a time when I had moved everything off the walls and to the middle of the room and I was thinking to myself ‘why have I done this’ haha it felt like such a big job but with them helping me it was so much quicker.
I love the blue moonstones and I actually use them in my sun, moon and star stacking ring. Moonstone is actually one of my favourite stones and the blue hues in these ones are so dreamy.
The collection of coloured drusy stones Kernowcraft stock are so beautiful I have made a beautiful ring for my best friend with a black oval one and I have two more in my stone collection waiting to made into something special (when I have the time haha). I have some designs in the pipeline which will include drusy so watch this space.
I can't talk about Kernowcraft without mentioning the stunning collection of boulder opals. I am always drooling over them, but can never decide which one I want to buy.