Meet a Maker: The Workbench

Meet a Maker: The Workbench

After attending one of their workshops AND making a ring at home with their Workbench Box we couldn't wait to get the girls up North to deliver their workshop here at Fred Aldous. Here's what they have to say about what you can expect from their workshops, and a little bit about themselves.

Where did you two meet?

Katie:In a bar... Only joking we met at uni we both studied Jewellery together but we mostly bonded over our love of indie bands. Since then we have lived together, travelled together and now we get to work together! Couldn't work with anyone else.

Kirstie: Exactly what Katie said. We met on our first day of uni and we've been BFF since that day!

Why did you decide to set up The Workbench?

Katie: It was actually a completely organic thing. We wanted to set up a fun craft night with some girlfriends and after a few posts on Instagram and some glowing reviews we had emails from people asking for the next class. We never imagined we would be doing it as a proper job. We love it! And feel really lucky to have created this special company.

Kirstie: We’ve always wanted to be our own bosses and be able to work on something we loved. The Workbench allowed us to give up our retail, part time jobs and focus solely on jewellery!

Where do you usually hold your workshops?

Katie: We like a good cafe, bar, shop, museum, art gallery CRUMBS anywhere we would want to hang out in our free time. Our venue is almost as important as the night. Brings a whole new element to the nights!

Kirstie: It’s really important that it’s somewhere exciting and independent. It’s always great meeting the people behind the places that we hold the events in. Making connections in business is vital and when it’s a smaller business, they feel more like friends and we have made some great, loyal connections through The Workbench.

Tell us what people can expect from a Workbench workshop?

Katie: Lots of fun, proper real life socialising and perhaps a totally new crafty experience. We pride ourselves on professional quality polishing so your ring will be something you can really feel proud of and love to wear.

Kirstie: Firstly, and incredible ring that is completely unique as we only cast what you create. There will literally be one of your creation, which I think is pretty darn cool. The social element is pretty much as important as the ring. The main objective of The Workbench is FUN and that this isn’t a strict, step-by-step lesson. It’s about having fun and expressing creativity in a way that you might not have done before.

Now a little bit about your own work…Where do you get your inspiration from?

Katie: I seem to get lots of my ideas when I’m relaxed and happy. Like falling asleep or on holiday. Currently, I'm loving the 80s - films, music, fashion, wallpaper its really driving my new collection. I'm especially loving designing hoops and signet rings! Most designers get their inspiration from artists or nature but I'm more excited by fashion and graphic design. I used to spend hours in the magazine section of the library because it always felt more fun and interesting.

Kirstie: Mine is predominantly through modernist architecture. There is something about the shapes within certain constructions such as Eileen Gray E-1027 house and incredible buildings like Unite Habité d’habitation in Marseille. In fact, there are so many beautiful modernist buildings in the south of France. A French architecture road trip a few years ago has left me with enough inspiration for my whole life!! More recently, I’m feeling very drawn to sculptors such as Barbara Hepworth. I’m obsessed with the shapes she uses, and then the futurist elements of Brancusi and another sculptor called Den Holm, who is based in Australia.

Where do you make most of your work?

In our London workshop, we’re pretty chained to our bench to make jewellery as it involves fire and specialist tools.

What are you working on at the moment?

Katie: Working on lots of fun secret projects for 2017 which we can’t wait to shout about!

Kirstie: I’m working on new collections of jewellery, including men's jewellery, which I’m so excited about!

Who are your favourite artists or makers?

Katie: We have met some amazing makers from throwing workbench events. So many women doing incredibly well in all sorts of industries; Jessie Harris, Clarice Price Thomas, Mariel Osborn, Holly Exley and Rosie Webster to name a few!

Kirstie:  Similarly to what Katie said, I’m so inspired by some of the creatives we know. I love Jessie Harris and Clarice Price Thomas’ work - it’s so, SO beautiful and I know how hard they both work which is also very inspiring. I really love the collage and print work by Laurie Maun and Aliyah Hussain, the beautiful food styling work of Olivia Bennett, who runs the supper club - Tentacle.

Another few, who are also good friends are the incredibly motivated and hardest worker that is furniture maker Sebastian Cox and my other bestie, Mariel Osborn who works so beautifully with colour and texture. I love the way she is so experimental with bright, exciting colours that can be made into delicate, beautiful forms.

What exhibition or art event have you been to recently that you think is worth shouting about and why?

Katie: It’s been so busy this winter, I wish I had made more of an effort to see some lovely art. But normally the Tate and V&A museum are my go-to destinations for feeling inspired. My favourite museum is the Pompidou in Paris. I just love everything! I could easily spend a full day daydreaming and sketching in there!

Kirstie: I recently visited Picasso gallery in Antibes (I really love France, can you tell!?) I discovered an artist called Pierre Soulages and I just fell in love. I really love monochromatic artwork but I was obsessed how black paint could have so much texture, reflection and depth. All of my packaging for my jewellery is black and I’d love to make things a bit more experimental.

I feel like so much time when building my business was spent making something suitable for a commercial outlet, but now I’m regressing into wanting to make something that is much more fun - why does it have to be a standard box. Talking of other people that inspire me - Elke Jewellery is amazing her her packaging is incredible!

Do you have any tips for artists and makers who are starting out?

Katie: Celebrate your successes and keep positive at all times. We’re really lucky because we can go through the highs and lows together and that's really important. Oh and also to take charge of your own life. If you’re not happy, DO SOMETHING SHINEY AND NEW!

Kirstie: It’s got to be something that you truly love otherwise you will never be passionate or excited about it. Do what you love but also try and do something new. Simple skinny bands and tiny earrings get a bit boring on Instagram - sorry if that is a bit harsh.

Where can people buy your work?

You can buy our own work at kirstiemaclaren.com & cruxlondon.com And for our workshops and kits theworkbenchlondon.com

If you can't make it to one of their workshops then you can try it at home with The Workbench Box.

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