This is the first in the new Mercantile Muse series, In Residence. I love learning more about creative people, their process and their inspiration. I hope you will too.
First up is Cari-Jane Hakes of Hybrid Handmade. I can't quite remember how I met Cari, was it through etsy and then her blog or the other way around. I think perhaps the other way around. No matter, it's time for you to meet her too.
MM: What is the first thing you remember creating?
Cari-Jane: I think it was teeny tiny 'self published' illustrated books on my typewriter!
MM: Was your creativity nurtured as a child?
Cari-Jane: Not particularly and I don't mean this in a bad way - I think as a family we were always a bit busy moving house!
MM: Where did you grow up and do you think it has an impact on your current designs. If so, how?
Cari-Jane: Hmm, where didn't I grow up? I went to 7 different schools as a child spread all over the UK. I think the biggest influence on my designs are what I'm surrounded by right now but bits of wild remote Scottish highlands definitely creep into many of my pieces.
MM: How do you nurture your own creativity now?
Cari-Jane: I'm always amazed at what can occur when I create a little time and space and sit down with my sketchbook and just draw and draw and draw. That and getting out and about with my camera. Getting right down in the dirt on my hands and knees and looking at teeny tiny things up close is a constant source of wonder to me.
MM: What’s your favorite thing to listen to while you work?
Cari-Jane: Ohhhh podcasts! There is nothing better than someone talking in your ear when you are a solitary workshop based artist! It is the second most wonderful thing about my work that I get to listen to wonderful, inspiring and informative things while I work.
MM: What’s your greatest inspiration in your work?
Cari-Jane: Colour, nature and architecture.
MM: Having studied architecture, how did you come to be a jewelry designer and metal-smith?
Cari-Jane: I started studying jewellery at night school when I was pregnant with my second child. Designing teeny tiny perfect things in silver became my retreat from the rigours of motherhood. It used all of my architectural design skills but I didn't have to go to site meetings or deal with builders!
MM: Can you share some of the steps to your process?
Cari-Jane: It will often kick off with a theme, like the current one 'Into the Wild' (or the one before that 'The Myth of the Aurora Borealis'). I'll collect colours and images connected to the theme and then I make prototypes. Precious metals are so expensive now so I need to know that a design idea is going to work before I commit to cutting any silver. Paper and card models are all very well but I often have to go the extra mile and actually see it in brass or copper.
MM: What are you favorite materials to work with and why?
Cari-Jane: Silver, naturally. I find it amazing how many guises it can take - the way it accepts leaf skeleton textures still knocks me for six every time I get a really good print. I love the way silver patinates (when it oxidises and goes black) which gold doesn't do. It is a very versatile material.
MM: What tool can’t you live without?
Cari-Jane: Rolling mill! It's the way I get all my textures into my silver. That said, my brother is building me a hydraulic press - so I reserve the right to alter this declaration at a later date.
MM: What’s your favorite thing about creating?
Cari-Jane: Sending the pieces off. I love the thought of these pieces scattered all over the world, becoming part of people's heritage, story, being passed down and on. It is a privilege to be asked to create these special pieces.
MM: Is there something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Cari-Jane: I accidentally moved to France for 4 years. No one saw it coming, not even me!
MM: When is ‘your time’ in the studio when you’re really ‘on’?
Cari-Jane: Solitary, no distractions, probably late at night (although, I don't make a habit of it).
MM: If a song was written about your work, what would it be called? Or if there is a song that reflects your work, what is it?
Cari-Jane: I think I have a mini-play list. I often get completely hooked on songs in films - it is the combination of the music, the story and images and often I create my deigns with a whole world of images and stories and music in mind.
1. Falling Slowly from the film 'Once' composed by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.
2. Comptine d'un autre été -L'après-midi from the film Amélie composer by Yann Tiersen
3. Hard Sun from the film 'Into The Wild' composed by Eddie Vedder
MM: What’s your favorite memory of creating?
Cari-Jane: Getting messy on the kitchen floor with a big long roll of paper and two small paint covered boys!
MM: Messy or organized?
Cari-Jane: Organised - but messy when I'm actually making.
MM: If you could sit down and enjoy a glass of wine with anyone (living or dead) and talk about the process of creating, who would it be?
Cari-Jane: Barbara Hepworth.
MM: What does it mean to you to be creative?
Cari-Jane: I honestly can't imagine NOT doing what I do. I'd go as far as to say that it is essential to my being as a person. In moments when a design comes together I feel completely whole.
MM: Is there anything that frustrates you when you’re working in the studio?
Cari-Jane: When things don't solder properly.
MM: What’s your studio space like right now?
Cari-Jane: Right now, it is busy with a new commission so there are a couple of paper models, my sketch book is out covered in copper dust from the two prototypes I have been making.
MM: Favorite sound?
Cari-Jane: The chattering sound of pebbles when they roll around on a steep beach as a wave retreats.
MM: Favorite place?
Cari-Jane: Besides HOME, it would have to be West Dean College, Chichester. I went there once for a residential course. It was like heaven on earth. So, so beautiful.
MM: Favorite thing to create?
Cari-Jane: Rings! They are so expressive and dynamic. I love expanding the canvas of a ring, making them almost armour like, fiercely feminine, tough enough to smash through glass ceilings and go adventuring with.
MM: Is there a quote that speaks to you as a creative person?
Cari-Jane: My late Grandfather once wrote to me following a disappointing time in my life. He sent me a watch from the Oxfam shop he was volunteering in, and wrote me a letter telling me….'you've still got time'. Wise words from a wise wise man.
MM: Can you share two pieces of advice with other creators?
1. It's good to look around and see what is going on, what other people are doing, but then you just have to shut that all off and do it.
2. Doors close for a reason. Get up, dust yourself off, and get on with something else.
On a side note, I can't close without mentioning the uuber cool shoes Cari is wearing in the last photo. The award-winning Mojitoes, designed by none other than the Hybrid Handmade husband, Mr. Julian Hakes.
Many thanks to my friend Cari for sharing and having the guts to be the first creative person featured. I truly appreciate the thought and time that went into answering my many questions.
In case you missed them the first time, here's two of the reasons that make me so happy to have connected with this creative, talented and thoughtful woman.
"The chattering sound of pebbles when they roll around on a steep beach as a wave retreats." I never would have thought of 'chattering' myself, but that's exactly it. I too love that noise. I could sit and listen to the waves retreating for hours.
"I love expanding the canvas of a ring, making them almost armour like, fiercely feminine, tough enough to smash through glass ceilings and go adventuring with."
Merci, mon ami.
Here's a little something from Cari's interview. If you don't know Glen Hansard, you should. Enjoy this lovely song. This video makes me really miss Dublin. If you're reading via email, click here.
Any plans for the weekend? Tonight is hockey night. Have I told you I'm a rabid hockey fan lately? It's scary. I do love my Bruins.
Have a good one whatever you do.
Ciao for now,