Friday, 3 September 2010

The Friday Interview: Loretta Hurley

And iiiiiiiit’s… the Friday interview! :-;. My mother likes these very much and rings me up afterwards to tell me whether she thinks my questions are good or not. So I hope my questions are sufficiently probing and you enjoy this one, mother (and everyone else as well, obviously don’t feel excluded).

OK, so today’s interview is with Loretta Hurley, who makes lovely beaded jewellery. (All photos/ designs are copyright Loretta - shoot her an email if you want to use any of her photos. The slightly crappy use of the smudge tool is, I'm afraid, all mine ;-) ).
Clockwise from top left: Tahitian Moonlight, Elizabeth, Lady of the Lake, Indian Ocean. Admire my use of the Gimp Smudge Tool
Loretta and I met at my last job where she was a beacon of sanity and calm, and I’m pleased to have her as a witness that I didn’t dream the whole thing up, like the last episode of Crossroads where it was revealed that it had all been the dream of a till operator called Angela. I was delighted to discover subsequently that she has lots of crafty interests, in particular beading. This is something I’ve always wanted to be good at, but am definitely not, so it’s something I admire in other people. Loretta has wide-ranging inspirations for her pieces, from Arthurian legend to the Floating World and works with beads in a variety of media.

I have recently initiated Loretta into the seductive time-suck that is Ravelry so I hold myself morally responsible for any forthcoming woolly adventures.

1/ How would you describe what you make, and what inspired you to start making it?

I would describe my pieces as wearable imagination. 

I started by mending a shop-bought bracelet. The heavy ceramic beads had been strung precariously on thread which subsequently broke.  Now they’re on copper wire with bead caps in a much more decorative and robust “banglet”.  In addition to choosing the threading material and findings I replaced some of the beads. I went on to design pieces to complement existing clothes or jewellery. I had no idea I could design before this so I would encourage others to try it.

Morgan Le Fay necklace
2/ Do you make the kind of jewellery you enjoy wearing, or do you make the kind which has techniques that interest you? (i.e. are you product or process orientated?).

I experiment with different techniques, but I’m motivated to create the design in my head.

3/ Which piece are you most proud of, and which did you learn most from?

I think I’m most proud of “Morgan le Fay” because it was my first chunky mixed media necklace [note from me, it includes paper beads, I think these are very cool] and I think an interesting use of colour and texture. You can see I’ve had a bit of an Arthurian thing going on!

I learnt most from the bracelet I mentioned at the beginning because it took a couple of attempts to make it work and I had to think about what materials would work best both practically and in terms of look, as well as learning about jewellery-making tools and how to use them.

4/ In Happy-Internet-Land, women who do crafts are celebrated, and practical skills are highly valued – in the real world, however, I still find there are some rather unflattering stereotypes of women who craft, and it can be seen as quite an odd thing to do. How has your experience been?

I think I may be one of the unflattering stereotypes!  [Nonsense, woman ;-)]

There’s something magical about creating an object and that transcends the mundane stuff of stereotypes.

5/ Has your experience of creating individual pieces affected your view of mass production, or altered the way you shop?

I now generally don’t buy other people’s finished work (unless it really speaks to me or it’s in a medium I don’t work in) but I shop for materials a great deal! Some of the materials may be mass produced but most are from small to medium producers and suppliers who provide information about content and sourcing. I choose quality components that are produced in the UK to reduce the “bling miles”, or that are at least ethically traded, and/or recycled, wherever possible. I also shop for specific often one-off items that will finish off a piece and help to make it special.
[Note from me, this underlines one of my problems with crafting – I do it (partly) to reduce my consumption, but it makes me buy (at least some) materials! I don’t know how you get round that. Also I believe 'bling miles' to be a new coinage so remember you heard it here first. Useless Beauty Designs: facilitating language change].
Merlin necklace
6/ Are there any beadmakers you particularly admire who you’d like to tell us about?

I bought some Celtic style silver jewellery years ago made by Ola Gorie. She’s retired from jewellery making now (though her daughter is continuing) and so this set is precious. I love jewellery and other crafts that celebrate and connect us with history and tradition, with those who have crafted before us. Read about Ola here.

More recently, I did think Lynn Davy’s “Fading Beauty” was beautiful; it won the British Bead Awards Crystals Category in 2009.

Generally I find other people’s work is interesting in terms of how they’ve constructed it technically. I’m more likely to be inspired by ideas sparked by music, art, history, mythology or literature.

If people are interested in beading, there are UK based magazines including Bead magazine and Beads and Beyond.
Blue Days at Sea necklace. I will not say anything about Aldeburgh, which could only ever produce happiness
7/ How would you like to develop your craft from here?

I can see more medieval-inspired pieces appearing. I also have Japanese ukiyo-e inspired pieces on the drawing board, using glass and decorative knotwork.

Loretta can be contacted at lorettahurley.vaire [at] for anyone interested in commissions. Thanks Loretta for the interview, and thanks for sharing your beading. I'm looking thoughtfully at the box which contains my round-nosed pliers, but I'm going to resist, because I know from experience it never ends well!


Marushka C. said...

I love the Friday interviews! Loretta sounds terrific and I love her jewelry pieces. Like you, my aspirations and talents do not meet anywhere near each other when it comes to beading. As for the language change, in this one piece you've given me bling miles and seductive time-suck that is Ravelry (YES) so all I can say is Thanks!

Susie said...

Thank you Marushka ;-). I think Ravelry should perhaps adopt it as their strap line.

Anonymous said...

Pleasant posting but I'm not sure that I agree. Then again, folks consider me difficult at the best of times! Thanks.
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