At craft insurance we have never been shy of admitting that we are simply in awe of the crafts we see being produced by our clients. Some of the work is quite simply mind boggling! How on earth do you manage to think these things up, let alone make something so stunning from what started as a thought over breakfast?
Over the course of a week, we might deal with crafters who vary from soap makers, wood turners, or candle makers, to people who demonstrate raku firing, or makes yurts or coracles. Then there are the people who make jewellery, or decorative knives, or dolls house miniatures. Knitting, sewing, embroidery, pyrography, calligraphy, decorative knot tying, screen printing, not to mention good old fashioned painting and drawing. The list goes on and on. Cupcakes..ok, I’ll stop now…jams chutneys and preserves. BUNTING (bellowed in the style of the booming Brian Blessed)…can’t believe I nearly forgot bunting! Anyway, I digress.
Out of pure self indulgence, we thought to ourselves, how on earth can we see more of what crafters make, and find out more about their crafting passions?! And so, our blog, “Meet the Makers” was born.
The first of our ‘makers’ who was kind enough to have a chat with me was the lovely Aimi Charnell of Silver Handprints, who was absolutely brilliant. Here’s what she had to say:
“My name is Aimi Charnell and I have a passion for jewellery! I run two small businesses side by side, my main business is Silver Handprints for handprint, fingerprint & paw print jewellery, Silver Shadows Jewellery is a smaller entity for contemporary jewellery.
I was once told at an event that I “didn’t look like a silversmith”, I was so surprised by this comment that I was stuck for words, to this day I wish I had asked what I looked like I did.”
(Haha at craft insurance this made us laugh, we’ve also been told we don’t look like insurance brokers..I wonder if we look more like silversmiths?)
“I completed my Jewellery & Design course nearly 20 years ago and I started my first business with the help of The Princes’ Trust selling my hand crafted silver jewellery at a local craft village. I gave it up when my children came along & continued to dip in & out of silversmithing as a hobby. Within the last three years I have put heart & soul into building my new enterprise ‘Silver Handprints’ up. I gave up my part-time day job in October 2014 to concentrate on the businesses properly, it is hard work but love every minute of it.
My favourite products are usually my new introductions, I spend the time completing them and then I am excited to showcase them to my clients & Facebook fans for their valuable feedback. My favourite new products at the moment are the Dewdrop range for hand prints or fingerprints, they are very elegant.
Seeing the joy and awe of the parents and children when I show them their hand prints or fingerprints in silver is something that I still feel a huge compliment from. Recently I have been asked to take prints by a local funeral director. I feel very privileged to be able to offer this service, to personally take the prints and put them into a sentimental keepsake of their loved ones memory.”
We know a lot of our clients work a full time job or have families, or both, as well as run a craft business (you crazy people, but we love you for it! How dull would life be if there weren’t arts and crafts to brighten your day) how on earth do you do it? This is how Aimi does it..
“My day begins earlier than I would like as I have to bundle my two daughters out of the door in time for school! I then arrive at the studio and begin with any admin, so replying to emails & Facebook messages etc. I then get started at the workbench and make up samples, orders and commissions. I take studio photographs of most of the completed orders, then I take a daily trip to the local Post Office to dispatch them. My workbench time ends usually around the end of school time as I collect my daughters from school & carry out all of the ‘mummy’ tasks. Once they are in bed, my night-shift begins (9pm!), again carrying out more admin, making stamps and putting the handprints & fingerprints into the silver clay ready for baking in the kiln to work on the following day.
“The work & home life juggle is a very fine balancing act, I find that the two have to interact for me to achieve either successfully. At any point in the day, there can be a time where I have to drop something to carry out a home task or a work task. That is the joy of being a self-employed worker & a parent. At weekends and during school holidays I am often attending events so I need my life to be flexible.”
And how did Aimi’s passion for jewellery begin?
“I was a magpie to jewellery from an early age and my favourite story that my mum told me when I was at pre-school. It was about a little girl that bought an old handbag from a jumble sale. She found a secret pocket in it and inside was a sparkly ring & necklace! I’m still hunting for that illusive old handbag.”
Knowing that a lot of crafters are just starting on their journey, trying to turn their hobby into a business, we asked Aimi if she had any words of wisdom we could pass on to you folks. This is what Aimi had to say:
”My words of wisdom to new starters in the craft world, is that it takes a while to get established. Ensure that your products are made to your highest standards. Don’t get too disheartened if you don’t sell huge amounts at fairs & events, websites take longer than you will expect to be successful & always keep your business cards handy wherever you go.”
Lastly, in case anyone wants to see more of what Aimi makes, we asked how people can get in touch…
Social media is definitely the way forward in this day and age. I am on Facebook: www.facebook.com/silverhandprints, Twitter: , my website is: www.silverhandprints.co.uk and email address is: email@example.com.