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Workspaces and the Work / Life Balance

I am an Jewellery Artist creating silver and wooden jewellery that resonates with the ancient past. I am fascinated by the ambiguous nature of pattern-making, I think pattern can be interpreted as a common language that communicates between our past and present selves. Places such as Kilmartin Glen are of great influence, especially the artefacts found in hoards.

I use hand-forged tools, to translate the expressive quality of my drawings into textural jewellery. I also works with pattern in the grain of reclaimed wood, hand-mixing pigment recipes rich shades of blue.

This blog post is centred around my workspace and the work / life balance; I am based in Helensburgh, Argyll in my home studio. Working from home is often associated with self employment, but the pandemic has normalised across many careers. This seismic societal shift has surfaced the importance of a work / life balance which I would argue has always been a point of contention for the self- employed.

I have had a few different work spaces since starting my business 5 years ago. My journey started when studying my BA Hons in Silversmithing andJewellery at the Glasgow School of Art. After graduating, I undertook a residency there, teaching with undergraduate students which gave me time to slowly build my own workshop resources whilst making my own work in the department.

I then moved into a space at a shared studio with five other jewellers in WASPS Briggait Studio. This was great for me as I was still immersed in creative community, meaning I always had a person to bounce ideas off of or when I needed advice. The people I shared a studio with were a few years advanced in their businesses; I learned so much from them in terms of productivity and working with stockists and galleries. While I was there, I worked for one of the jewellers, batch making pieces, which again really helped me understand how I could grow and sustain my business.

These years in terms of my of work / life balance, I was always between the studio in the city centre, at my part-time job or traveling between the two. I felt like I never got much daylight or that I was perpetually on the move. I knew long term, I wanted to centre my life back in Helensburgh.

I think fate really played it’s part for me during these times, My parents kindly loaned me their shed to set up a base for my business which coincided with the pandemic. It was daunting at first thinking I might get easily uninspired or lost without a community of creatives around me, however everyone was in the same boat. I found my own space liberating and with thanks to the network I had created, I could and still do reach out to people when I need a bleather or advice. There were plenty of advantages of working in my studio shed (or ‘shedio’ as it was affectionately referred to in the family). I could keep working through the pandemic, I had lots of space and the money I saved renting a studio helped me buy more tools. Checking back in to my work life balance, I took tea breaks in the garden and my commute to work was less than one minute.

I worked there until my partner and I were able to get a mortgage on our own flat where I am lucky enough to have a studio now. It is in evolution but happily functions as my workshop an office for all things jewellery. It is a creative space with walls filled of inspiration, surrounded by books and all my tools have little homes.

I treasure being able to work from home and consider myself lucky to be working in a field that allows me the flexibility to do so. Working from home is by far not the ‘easier’ option, it requires discipline. It is a lot easier to get distracted by piles of washing or offerings from the fridge. However, overall I feel the flexibility suits me and my mindset; I take more constructive rest, gaze out the window more, make time for nature cold water therapy and play my music really loud.

My work / life balance? It is is far from balanced but I am working on it.

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