This week we have been catching up with the founder of the Histon Handmade fairs and local jewellery designer Claire Howieson. Check out our Q+A with Claire below to find out about how she turned her creative hobby into her career, the unique custom tension setting she developed, and the important role Cambridge Open Studios has played throughout her creative journey. Claire also tells us about the upcoming Christmas edition of Histon Handmade which is taking place this month, on Saturday 25th November 2017. The fair will be a great opportunity to meet the makers as well as make a start on your Christmas shopping!
(Image by Claire Howieson – Studio)
(Image by Claire Howieson – Ring Stack)
Tell me a little about yourself and how you became a jewellery designer.
I started my working life as a lawyer, which I stuck with for over 10 years. In 2004 I started an evening class and learnt how to make silver / gold jewellery. For a while it was just a hobby, but soon I discovered that people were interested in buying my creations and I set up a website and decided to have a go at being a part time lawyer / part time jeweller.
Eventually, when my second child arrived, I decided that I would let go of the lawyer role and focus on the jeweller role as that was more flexible and family friendly and allowed me to focus on my creative side. It has really taken off. In my pursuit of creativity, I have also established Histon Handmade: a contemporary design and craft fair, which so far has taken place over the Christmas and Easter periods. The next event is 12-7PM on Saturday 25th November at the St Andrew’s Centre in Histon.
Describe your style in 5 words.
Elegant, Contemporary, Simple, Handmade, Classic.
(Image by Claire Howieson – Leaf Cufflinks)
(Image by Claire Howieson – Tension Set Garnet Earrings)
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I am a treasure hunter: I will often be drawn to a stone without any idea of what I will do with it, so quite often it is my materials that inspire me. I am also inspired by simple geometric shapes and different textures that can be accomplished on the metal’s surface.
Could you tell me a little more about one of your pieces?
I am most proud of my custom tension setting. A number of years ago, I was drawn to a stunning aquamarine stone in an unusual “mirror” cut. Without any idea of what I was going to do with the stone, I purchased it. I then designed an unusual piece around it which resulted in a unique setting that I have since used to create unique pendants, earrings and cufflinks as well as rings.
(Image by Claire Howieson – Tension Set Rings)
(Image by Claire Howieson – Tension Set Topaz Cufflinks)
How do keep yourself informed about what is going on within the art, design + handmade world, in Cambridgeshire and further afield?
Social media! I am a big fan of Facebook in particular and like to follow local artists, groups and galleries. I also receive various art newsletters and I rely heavily on Cambridge Open Studios for details of local artists.
Are you a member of any local art groups?
I am a member of Cambridge Open Studios and have been for seven years. I grew up in Cambridge and whilst at sixth form college, my A-level art teacher encouraged us to visit the studios over the summer holidays. Ever since then, I have been visiting studios throughout the open weekends in July and eventually in 2010 I decided I wanted to have a go myself. I exhibited with Heidi Lichterman at her home studio, and she took me under her wing. I have been exhibiting with her ever since, together with various other artists. We normally exhibit over two weekends, leaving us with the other two weekends to go and visit other studios.
(Image by Claire Howieson – Tension Set Pink Beryl Pendant)
I am also the founder and organiser of Histon Handmade, a contemporary design and craft fair, which has so far been held twice a year at the St Andrew’s Centre in Histon. Participation is by invitation only and the standard is very high as a result. We are about to hold our third event 12-7pm on Saturday 25th November. It has been so popular, both with visitors and exhibitors, that we are expanding into the second hall this time, enabling 23 artists / makers to participate.
Where can people find your work?
Through my website, by prior arrangement at my studio in Oakington (contact details are on my website), at Histon Handmade on 25th November 2017, and at Cambridge Open Studios in July each year.
Thank you to Claire for taking part in our feature and for giving us an insight into her creative pursuits as well as the inspiration behind her beautiful creations. You can find out more and keep up-to-date with what Claire is up to by following her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you want to find out about who will be exhibiting at Histon Handmade this month then head over to Twitter for all of the details and for an exciting build up to the event!
We have just launched our community membership and are pleased to welcome Claire as our first jewellery member! Be sure to check out Claire’s profile. If you are a local artist, designer or maker and are interested in finding out about a feature or how you can become a member, please do feel free to contact us – we would love to hear from you and find out about your work.