Cor blimey, hello November! Where did you sneak up from?! This year sure is whizzing by and well, the start of the month can only mean one thing at Adventures & Tea Parties, Blog Gem interview time and ooh this month I'm introducing a new question - what one song represents your blog? Read on to find out!
For those less familiar with my Blog Gem interviews, each month I interview a crafty, creative type blogger, finding out what inspires them, how they work and more. You can check out all my previous interviews out here.
This month I'm super duper proud to be interviewing I Am Acrylic who I have been a fan of for years!!! So, fancy finding out more about the people behind the biz? Me too!
Hello there, who be the faces behind I Am Acrylic?
We are Ruth & Brendan and we are I Am Acrylic. We met at Winchester School of Art whilst studying Fine Art in the 90's. We moved to London in 2000. Brendan got a job with Camden Council Highways Engineering department and Ruth worked for Foyles bookshop. We've had a few other jobs since then but now we are self-employed and make jewellery!
We live in Spitalfields. Our little flat is full to the brim with 'stuff' (some useful, some really not!) and it also serves as our studio space. We'd have more room to work if it wasn't for Brendan's large collection of vinyl and Ruth's rather too large collection of kitsch royal memorabilia!
We use a fretsaw to cut out all the components for our acrylic and wooden jewellery. We finish off all these items by hand before piecing them all together and attaching the chains, brooch pins and earrings etc.
Brendan is a Libra and Ruth is a Virgo - but actually neither of us really knows what this means!
What is your creative space like?
As previously mentioned, we work from home. We have separate work rooms which is good as we have quite different music taste sometimes! In amongst all the hoarded things in our flat, we also have a lot of useful tools and equipment: Two mechanical fretsaws, a pillar drill, a few hand saws, lots of needle files, wet & dry paper, vices, a workmate, sewing machine, lightbox, 5 work tables (3 of which were being thrown away by our various neighbours!), a mini photostudio for product shots, boxes of jewellery boxes and lots more!
If you had to take one craft tool to a desert island what would you choose and why?
Ruth: A pair of knitting needles please! I could knit strips of bark together or something to make tents and baskets (I don't know how to weave!) I could also use them to spear fish for my tea! And I could knit recreationally too when I'd done all my chores!
Brendan: A Swiss Army Knife! (totally cheating! but would be useful on so many occasions : ) )
How do you both work and get inspired?
We are both fans of scraps of paper and sketchbooks if they are to hand. Quite often an idea will spring to mind whilst watching something on the telly, during a conversation, trip to a museum, something we see from the train window...and it will get hurriedly written/badly drawn to be worked on again later.
Recently we went to Edinburgh and on the train journey we saw quite a few power stations which prompted us to try and design a cooling towers brooch to go with our factory brooch that we already have.
We'll quite often mock up a design in coloured paper before making a prototype from acrylic or wood. And then we'll usually test the reaction to this prototype on social media and on our market stall before rolling it out properly.
What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog or running an online shop?
We would love to do more blog posts than we do, but simply don't find the time! So perhaps one piece of advice would be not to promise posts on a too regular basis if you can't deliver them! We have a 'business card of the week', a 'door knocker of the week' and an 'inspirational item of the week' but actually it's sometimes months between each post! So, unless you're sure you'll be able to live up to your billing, keep the setup quite casual!
For running an online shop:
- keep lead times realistic
- keep in contact with your customers - if there is a delay eg, let them know!
- clear photographs and descriptions and lifestyle shots to show size are all important. Don't assume that they have any prior knowledge of what you are selling.
- have extra info about you - so they can put a face/story to who they are buying from.
- it's worth investing in some level of good packaging - don't go overboard but you want their item to arrive safely and first impressions do count for quite a lot!
- Good customer service obviously!
Is there a story behind the name I Am Acrylic?
We can't remember how it came about, but at one point when we were hand writing our packaging tags we did have the name in different languages for a laugh...Ich bin Acryl, Je suis Acrylique, Soy Acrílico.....
If you could go to a Creative Blog Award dinner with any 5 people/fictional characters - dead or alive - who would you choose?
Samuel Johnson who wrote A Dictionary of the English Language. His mind would be blown by all the amount of data it is possible to collate now online and digitally. He'd probably be impressed with all the different blogs and ways to categorise stuff these days!
One of our favourite blogs is by Jon Crispin who has documented his work photographing the suitcases of the previous residents of the Willard Psychiatric Center in Willard, NY. The contents of their suitcases are both sad and joyful - it's so interesting to see one person's life in a suitcase and see what they held dear......it would be great to talk to him for the evening and also perhaps he can win the biggest award of the night!
Jessica Fletcher would be a great guest to have. She'd have great tales of the 'Murder she Wrote' already but also, from watching all the episodes, a lot of murders seem to take place at these kind of award ceremonies in her world, so it would be good if she was there to help solve things if necessary!
According to Wikipedia, the term "weblog" (web log) was originally coined by Jorn Barger (who used to write a blog called Robot Wisdom) on Dec 17th 1997. The short form "blog" was coined by Peter Merholz who broke the word weblog into "we blog" in the sidebar of his blog in 1999. It would be really interesting to hear what these two early protagonists of weblogs have to say about the blogging world today!
And finally, what one song represents I Am Acrylic?
"Blackbird" by the Wurzels! One of our favourite ever designs is our Blackbird necklace and Brendan is from the West Country, so perhaps it's the perfect song.
Thank you so much Ruth and Brendan! It's been truly wonderful hearing all about your creative world and boy oh boy, those tips on blogging and running your own shop are fantastic! I'm sure we can all take note from them. And oooh, I've never heard of Jon Crispin, so looking forward to checking him out and well I might just have to put Blackbird on the dukebox now! Thanks again!
I hope you've all enjoyed this month's Blog Gem! Stay tuned for next month's, which takes a slightly different angle - I'll say no more! ;-)
All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Ruth and Brendan at I Am Acrylic. Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.