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MEET: Rachel Wonders of Rachel Gaw Jewellery

EMILY PARKES meets Rachel Wonders of Rachel Gaw Jewellery. Rachel makes gorgeous Jewellery using polyester resin, aluminium and silicon rubber. Emily talks to Rachel about her inspiration and her new range.

What do you do and how did you start?

I'm a jewellery designermakerI graduated from Staffordshire University in 2005 with a degree in design:crafts. Since then I have been producing my own range of jewellery and at present, my jewellery is stocked in a number of galleries throughout the country including The New Ashgate Gallery in Surrey and Manchester Museum

What kind of formal education / training or experience do you have that applies to what you do?

I have A levels in art and design, a degree in design crafts and a PGCE in primary education. All have helped me greatly on my jewellery journey. I currently run after-school jewellery clubs for young people, and so I am utilising all my skills at the same time as well as nurturing young talent.

Describe your work setting.

I work from home; I have a mini office in my living room and a workshop at my father's home. Oh and of course my little shed – that's where the resin creations come to life. Most daughters get shoes, smellys or clothes for Christmas and birthdays. I got a shed!

Handmade sterling silver ring with machined aluminium and resin detail

What has been inspiring you lately?

Simplicity and colour. I love colour , you will very rarely see me wearing all black. I like to keep it simple in my work and enjoy working with aluminium as it allows me to create both high shine and machined finishes. I'm currently working on two ranges, Peacock and Home. Peacock is a range of highly colourful brooches and necklaces and the Home range features simplistic landscapes with little houses. These are created in a step-by-step casting process, as well as carving shapes out with my beloved dremmel. 

Hand cast resin and aluminium necklace on a 18

Of your tools of the trade, which is your favourite?

My Dremmel its amazing! Silicon rubber - becuase it's great for moulds - and our metal lathe, because without it, I'd be scuppered! Oh and my dad, he’s the best 'tool' anyone could ask for. I've never ever met anyone as knowledgeable, he is invaluable.

How do you get the word out about your work?

Galleries and the press. I participate in local and national exhibitions, and selling events through Made in Cumbria; through Facebook, and my work has also been featured on blogs and other gallery and contemporary design sites. 

Handmade aluminium and resin contemporary brooch

What is your main goal for the next 6 - 12 months?

I'm currently working on a inexpensive range of Kitsch Jewellery which caters for all tastes and ages (you can see more on my Facebook page). I'm keen to expand my business and gain funding to purchase some necessary equipment, as well as carrying on working in the community, either in schools or developing a jewellery evening course.

Who are some of your favourite artists/designers/makers?

Peter Chang, Adam Paxon and Vivienne Westwood

Hand machined aluminium cufflinks with resin detail

What's your definition of the perfect day?

I love selling events. Its great to meet my customers and get feedback, so I guess a summer's day selling and having my sketch book with me for new ideas, then finishing off with a well-deserved pint.

What's the ethos behind your work?

I took the gamble of quitting my day job back in October 2010 because I was so unhappy, and it was sucking all my creativity out of me. I now live to work not work to live. Of course I have good and bad days like everyone else, and I still have rent to pay and food to buy but I'm happy. I'm doing what I love and I'm discovering more opportunities for me and my work every day. I'm a firm believer in determination. There is only one person responsible for what you do and where you end up in life and that's yourself. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Take a risk you never know what will happen, because if you don’t, you’ll spend the rest of your life thinking “what if”. 

Beautiful quirky handmade resin and aluminium brooch with sterling silver brooch

If you would like to view more of Rachel's work, you can see her online shops at Bouf, Etsy and Folksy.