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Magical Metal Clay, Love of Nature and Gems With Beaded Magpie

Today, we're chatting with Kerry, the founder of Beaded Magpie Jewellery, to discuss her stunning celestial and nature-inspired metal clay creations. We'll explore how Kerry honed her skills, her experiences in managing a successful online shop, and her future aspirations.

Hi Kerry, we absolutely love your jewellery designs. How did you discover the world of jewellery making and what drew you to it the most?

I have always loved jewellery and enjoyed rummaging through my mum's jewellery box since I was little. But I remember going into a craft shop in a garden centre my parents had taken us to when I was young, which had a big table at the centre full of beautiful and colourful beads. So that started my love for making stretchy bracelets and long seed bead necklaces. I still can’t resist a table or stand selling beads! 

What’s the meaning behind your business name?

Magpies are known for their love of shiny things, and I’m just like them. I always head over to the jewellery stands in shops before looking at the clothes, and jewellery is normally one of the first things I notice about people too, so incorporating that with my love for beads, I came up with the name ‘the beaded magpie’.

Describe your jewellery in 3 words.

Celestial-themed, nature-inspired, unique.

 "I have always loved jewellery and enjoyed rummaging through my mum's jewellery box since I was little."

 "I saw metal clay mentioned in a jewellery magazine one time and was keen to understand what metal clay actually was - surely it wasn't a clay that turned into real silver when it was fired, but it blew my mind when I found out that’s exactly what it was!"

Tell us about your experience of creating a brand for your jewellery business.

I would say that this is definitely an evolving thing. I set up the beaded magpie about 8 years ago now, after a long time of thinking about it, and at that time it looked much different to how it does today. I started simple with beaded pieces and creating basic wire wrapped pendants with gemstones and sea glass. Then I discovered metal clay and how to bezel set stones, which really helped me to get even more creative and focus my style which is now mostly moon and star themed. However, I still incorporate beads and wrapped gemstones and sea glass from time to time.

How did you discover metal clay and what resources did you use to learn this technique?

I saw metal clay mentioned in a jewellery magazine one time and was keen to understand what metal clay actually was - surely it wasn't a clay that turned into real silver when it was fired, but it blew my mind when I found out that’s exactly what it was! I had previously done a polymer clay course with Jewellers Academy so when I saw they offered an introductory day course in silver clay at their studio in London, I signed myself up. I made a pendant and a pair of earrings that day, which I still have. 

What advice would you give to those wanting to try metal clay but not sure where to start?

The first thing I always say is that it's not as complicated as you may think to get started, and you can make pure silver pieces with just a few quite basic tools like some mini cookie cutters, wallpaper samples to add a bit of texture and one of those mini souffle torches that you may already have in your kitchen. 

I know working with fire can be scary (it certainly was for me) but there are some brilliant videos on YouTube which take you through the basic steps, as well as some great online communities like Facebook groups, where metal clay artists and teachers are really generous with their advice and offering tips. 

What platform do you use to sell your beautiful jewellery?

I've recently closed my Etsy shop and joined another online platform called The Silk Purse Guild which is a really friendly place where talented creative people sell all sorts of unique, handmade pieces. It's also more of a community where Sara who runs the platform helps with marketing, promoting each other, and runs get-togethers to go over new functionality like her amazing AI tool, which is brilliant for those of us whose least favourite part of owning a small business is writing product descriptions for listings.

What advice would you give to jewellers struggling to come up with new ideas?

Don’t force it. I quite often have bursts of creativity where the ideas really flow, but that is balanced with periods where the opposite is true, and that’s ok! There are so many fabulous makers on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook and I often find inspiration there.

What’s your favourite design you’ve made to date and why?

Probably my statement mandala ring. I set it with an opal, and this was my first successful ring I made after several unsuccessful attempts, so I would say I’m most proud of this one for that reason. 

Do you work on your business part time or full time, and how do you stay organised and on track?

I work on the beaded magpie at weekends and in the evening after I finish at my day job as a HR Director. 

I would love to be able to dedicate more time to creating jewellery and am just over halfway through the Metal Clay Jewellery Diploma with Jewellers Academy which has taught me loads of new techniques I hope will help to enhance my designs.

Tell us why you are using Kernowcraft for your gemstones and supplies.

There’s such a great selection of gemstones in different sizes and colours to choose from, I always end up buying more than I intended - I’m sure others agree that buying beads and cabochons is a hobby in its own right!

What are your favourite gemstones to use in your designs and why?

This changes fairly frequently, but at the moment I love deep red garnets and carnelianMoonstone is another stone I use a lot because of the blue, pink and purple flashes you can see when the light hits it right.

What’s the most underrated gemstone?

Tourmaline comes in so many different colours, I always think I should use it more in my designs, and also has great healing qualities.

What's the most sentimental piece of jewellery you own?

I have a ring which belonged to my gran which has a really vintage design and features marcasite stones which you don’t see much of nowadays. It’s a bit of a statement piece and I love wearing it.

We love your use of texture, shapes and patination, tell us more about your design process and where you find your inspiration.

I absolutely love texture as you can probably tell, so most things I make will feature a mandala or leafy-type texture of some sort. A lot of the time, a gemstone may inspire an idea or I'll see someone on the Tube or a piece of pottery on instagram which triggers an idea I can then translate into a pendant or a pair of earrings. I'm no good at drawing so a lot of the time it's not until I open the clay that the design properly forms in my head. 

Beads

Metal Clay Tutorials

Gemstones

"Tourmaline comes in so many different colours, I always think I should use it more in my designs, and also has great healing qualities."

Texturing & Polishing Advice

Cleaning & Caring For Jewellery

When you’re not making jewellery, where can we find you?

I'm a bit (a lot) of a telly addict, so you'll probably find me on the sofa with the cats, bingeing a boxset! 

Facebook or Instagram? What’s your favourite thing about using either one as a platform to promote your jewellery?

I use both, but personally prefer using Instagram, and can very easily lose time scrolling and discovering new creators and makers. Tik Tok is also great if you like watching how people make things step by step.

What design are you currently working on? Any hints of future collections?

I’ve just started the new term of my diploma so will be learning about enamelling and other new skills with silver clay. Recently, I've been working on a few blingy pieces which are a bit different to the pieces I normally make but still have a celestial theme with moon and star embellishments.

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