I can’t think of anything better than being creative for a living, to be honest! Creating things by hand gives me a much-needed break from the computer… and I get to make beautiful things!
Sarah Buchan from Dear George makes bold vibrant geometric jewellery from resin and wood. It’s a time-consuming process – the resin alone takes three days to cure – but for Sarah being able to make something beautiful with her hands is a privilege… and a very necessary reprieve from the computer screen. We talked to Sarah to discover more about her inspirations and her jewellery making techniques…
Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
Hi! My name is Sarah and I love to create vibrant artwork and jewellery. Using lightweight materials such as laser cut wood and resin, I create bold jewellery and accessories derived from my sketches. I use a variety of colourful materials to tint the resin to the desired colours, such as oil paints and even old eyeshadow!
If you’re Sarah, who is George?
George was my Grandad on my mother’s side. It seemed like a nice sentiment to call my freelancing/crafting business after him as we shared a love for travelling and exploring. It is also called Dear George as if I would be writing to him, telling him about my day and adventures.
Who is George? George was my Grandad. It seemed like a nice sentiment to call my business after him as we shared a love for travelling and exploring.
What was your experience of craft in education? Were you encouraged to be creative at school?
Yes, I think from an early age I was encouraged to be creative – it’s always been a part of my life. However, it wasn’t until I went to college and university that I truly found my tribe. Being surrounded by like-minded people really sets a different pace and environment where you can hone your abilities. From then on, I continued to research what I liked and my style followed naturally. In the last few years I’ve gradually built up more designs to sell and I’ve now got a good catalogue of items I can produce. Every year I build it up a little bit more.
Can you talk us through your making process?
I like to draw designs by hand first with fine black pens – I like to be as precise as I can. I then trace the image with Illustrator and the files can be used to cut out various shapes with the laser cutter. The wood then needs to be sanded down and varnished, so the coloured resin doesn’t bleed into the grain.
I love experimenting with different colours and textures, I like how opposites work together such as wool and leather, resin and wood.
Then it gets messy! Mixing the resin together and pouring it into the wooden shapes is tricky so I use toothpicks to direct it into smaller areas. The resin takes three days to fully cure, after that it’s sanded down once more and a clear coat of resin is applied on the back. This is so that the necklaces have two different looks in one. At any stage the resin can bleed into another part of the design or it can even stick to the table! However it’s a fantastic material to use. I love experimenting with different colours and textures, I like how opposites work together such as wool and leather, resin and wood.
You spend a lot of time travelling. Where’s the most inspiring place you have been?
I travel as much as I possibly can! I got the wander bug when I travelled to New Zealand back in 2011. It was the furthest I’ve been alone and seemed like a big scary step to take. One of my dreams growing up was to see Hobbiton from the Lord of the Rings in the flesh, which is why I went. What perfect timing it was, as they had set it all up for filming The Hobbit and it was so, so pretty. I spent six incredible months there, meeting wonderful, friendly people and eating amazing food. I was sad to come home but it was time to finish my honors degree. Immersing yourself in another culture can be one of life’s most enriching experiences. I’m so glad I did.
I travel as much as I possibly can! Immersing yourself in another culture can be one of life’s most enriching experiences.
How have your travels influenced your work?
Travelling and taking photos helps me create new colour schemes and patterns. For instance, when I was travelling in Rome I loved all the mosaics and the architectural features, so I used those in my work and tried to put a geometric pattern spin on them.
Apart from travelling, what or who else inspires you?
Various things really. Endlessly sketching sometimes sparks something new as well, so it’s a real mixture of things. You never know what might inspire your next design.
By day I’m a designer in a busy studio in Aberdeen and by night I get to make beautiful things. I absolutely love the combination and I think both have helped each other flourish. Creating things by hand gives me a much-needed break from the computer and vice versa.
Can you describe your workspace?
Currently it’s any space I can get! I’ve had to learn how to make use of the space that’s available, be it the bedroom or the dining room table. I’ve got a piece of wood to work on and over the years it’s got so many layers of resin and paint, it’s almost marbled with layers. This year, however, a big fabrication lab opened up in Aberdeen and they have lots of tools and space to create, which has been super helpful. In a couple weeks I’ll be able to upgrade a bit as my partner and I have bought our first home. I’m very excited to get an extra room to make a mess in!
I’ve got a piece of wood to work on and over the years it’s got so many layers of resin and paint it’s almost marbled with layers.
Have you got a dream piece of furniture, art or design that you’d like to see in your new home?
I can’t wait to get started decorating! As you can probably guess I’m really into geometric forms and colours and will love incorporating that into our new home. I think a neutral grey and white with splashes of colour here and there is my perfect home (and you can’t escape colours with me!). I adore this Hello Bear Door Mat by Jimbobart and reckon it would be perfect for my new home because my nickname is Sarah Bear – it would make a great first impression!
What’s the best thing about being creative for a living?
I can think of nothing better to be honest! By day I’m a designer in a busy studio in Aberdeen and by night I get to make beautiful things. I absolutely love the combination and I think both have helped each other flourish. Creating things by hand gives me a much-needed break from the computer and vice versa. Plus it’s an amazing feeling to say you’ve been able to buy something solely because of something that you’ve created.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you do?
I’ve always wanted to be a film maker or animator. I fell in love with storytelling at an early age, although as I grew up I realised how unlikely it would be to be successful, so I picked a more stable career in design.
What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
Soak up as much information as you can. There’s a tonne of resources and articles on the various parts of the business. Taking photography and writing good descriptions is key, but you also need to know how to look after the finances and make sure you’re getting paid enough. It can be a lot of balls to juggle but it’s very rewarding. If you’re unsure where to start, I find researching what people are selling and how they present their work online is a great exercise. Observe how they write their descriptions, and what they choose to highlight in their photos, and it will spark inspiration on how you can show off your work.
If you’re thinking of selling your handmade work, I’d say soak up as much information as you can. Research what people are selling and how they present their work online. Take lots of photos of your creations so you learn what makes your work shine. It can be a lot of balls to juggle but it’s very rewarding.
Take lots of photos of your creations so you learn what makes your work shine. You know your work best, so try to capture its character and show it off. For instance, I find it’s important to highlight the shininess of the resin in my pieces and also the wooden textures. Over time you’ll get into the rhythm of your own ‘brand’ and what you want to project to potential customers.
Could you recommend any good reads for people starting out?
One book I recommend is Show your work! 10 Things nobody told you about getting discovered by Austin Kleon. It has some valuable advice for artists of any discipline on how to get their work noticed. The chapter that stuck with me was ‘Think Process, not Product’ as I think the process of creating something is as interesting as the final piece. I love seeing how people’s minds work around creative problems and the solutions they come up with. Showing people how you work and what you’re working on bridges a gap between you and people interested in your work.
What does craft mean to you?
To me a craft means a particular skill that a person has spent a lot of time perfecting. When you meet the people behind the craft you can see the passion they have and you immediately know they have slaved for hours learning their skill. Being surrounded by things lovingly crafted enriches your home and your soul.
Enjoy 15% off all Dear George jewellery with the discount code GLOW15 (valid until 5th August 2015)