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Newcastle upon Tyne


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In the Studio with Alison Macleod - Jewellery Designer


Ahead of her forthcoming showcase at The Biscuit Factory - jewellery designer Alison Macleod talks to us about her creative process, how childhood memories influenced her path to jewellery design, and what it's like in her creative studio.

Alison's showcase at The Biscuit Factory concluded on 11 September. If you are interested in any of her pieces please email art@thebiscuitfactory.com or contact us below.

Tell us a little about yourself...

My name is Alison Macleod and I make jewellery. I work in Fairtrade gold and precious gemstones to create treasures inspired by antique jewellery and the stories each piece has to tell. My work is always heavily patterned, inspired by the Victorian aesthetic but with a more paired back, balanced approach.

What drew you into the life of a jewellery designer?

Growing up I was always creating, often rummaging through the kitchen bin to rescue old cereal boxes or plastic bottles to make things from.

I have strong memories of secretly discovering my Mum’s jewellery box as a child, trying on each piece and wondering at their hidden histories.

If anyone asked little me what I wanted to be when I grew up it was always a jewellery designer. I feel so lucky to have make it a reality!

Catkin Curiosity Coorie Pendand | Fairtrade Gold and Diamonds | £3790

Catkin Curiosity Cat's Eyes Studs | Fairtrade Gold and Diamonds | £2160

Where do you work?

After living and working in Glasgow for 10 years my family and I moved 6 years ago back to Dumfriesshire where my husband and I grew up. I have a studio on the main street of the village of Thornhill where we live. The walls are lined with little bits and bobs which inspire my designs: old postcards, dried seedpods, junkshop finds etc. We have 2 workbenches for myself and my assistant Sarah, a desk for admin and a seating area where customers come for consultations.

I love the sense of focus and calm that the studio brings me. It is a cozy home from home. The surfaces do get cluttered but I promise you it is organised chaos! And I’m never far from a tidy, I do love to have everything in its place. With so many tiny elements to making each piece of jewellery it is really important to have a good organisation system

What can you see and hear when you are in your studio?

As a working studio rather than a shop we have the window screened off which allows us to work uninterrupted. I lift the screen and open the studio for 2 events a year and locals are always curious to see what goes on behind the mysterious screen!

We love to listen to music in the studio, I have all sorts of playlists to keep us going. When I’m in on my own and I’ve got a full day at the workbench I find an audiobook or podcast series is great company.


What does your process involve - how does a piece of your artwork transition from idea to finished piece?

IWhen I’m working on a new collection I often start with a dominant shape or colour palate, giving me a theme to frame my ideas. There will be lots of rough drawings in my sketchbook and on my phone where I work out basic designs and which pieces will be part of the group.

If I’m struggling to work out certain details I will mock up the piece in photoshop which allows me to switch between design details and refine my ideas.

When I’m ready to start at the bench I work simultaneously on several pieces at once, so that if problems arise with one piece, I can set it aside to work on something else and go back to it with fresh eyes.

I am always intensely focused when I’m creating a group of new pieces, getting completely absorbed in thoughts about how to achieve the best outcome. Only when the collection is complete can I relax and appreciate what I have made.

Catkin Curiosity Gloaming Earrings | Fairtrade Gold and Diamonds | £2350

Tell us a little about the latest collection you're exbiting at The Biscuit Factory...

I am sending a collection of Fairtrade gold pieces from my Catkin Collection. There are lots of clusters of soft toned diamonds with colourful pops of ruby, tourmaline and sapphire.

One of my favourite pieces is the Catkin Happenstance Pendant with its cluster of precious jewels and patterned gold. This one of a kind piece was made as part of my Happenstance Collection which started life in my gem box, stones that I have collected over the years which have come together in an un-curated way, bringing unusual combinations.

Catkin Happenstance Pendant - Fairtrade Gold, Sapphire, Ruby, Diamond £2150

What is your favourite piece of art or craft that you have in your own home?

We have a beautiful clarsach (a small Scottish harp) which I used to play as a teenager but gave up when I went off to art college. Our youngest son has just started lessons and it is such a joy to hear it sing again.


What does the rest of the year hold for you?

I am working on two new mini collections which I can’t wait to launched later on this year with lots of diamonds and Fairtrade gold.

Alison's showcase at The Biscuit Factory concluded on 11 September. If you are interested in any of her pieces please email art@thebiscuitfactory.com or contact us below.

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