Meet The Maker: Foxes and Fables
Amy Prout from Foxes and Fables is a studio jeweller inspired by everyday experiences and the gardens and woodlands of Wales. She is also a hopeless romantic and daydreamer who loves period dramas and historical fiction. The jewellery she makes brings together all these strands, capturing the beauty of wild landscapes and the mysteries of nature and combining it with human stories and the glamour of the past. Amy talks to Holly from Wilful North about her whimsical handmade jewellery, her inspirations and her cat companion Daisy.
To celebrate being our featured maker, Amy is offering 10% off all her handmade jewellery and free delivery within the UK. Just use the code ‘featuredmaker’ when you check out before 12th September 2017. Shop Foxes and Fables Jewellery now >
I began as a textile artist/silversmith but now I specialise in whimsical and unique contemporary silver jewellery with semi-precious gemstones, gold and occasionally felt details.
Hi Amy! First off, can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do and how Foxes & Fables came to be?
Hi and thank you for having me as your featured maker! I’m the owner of Foxes & Fables, which is the business I started back in 2012 so I could sell my artwork. I began as a textile artist/silversmith and sold felt pieces and silver jewellery but I quickly came to realise that I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I now specialise in whimsical and unique contemporary silver jewellery with semi-precious gemstones, gold and occasionally felt details.
My favourite part of the process is working out how to make my doodled designs into something three dimensional that people will want to wear. I want my jewellery to be something someone can treasure for years to come.
How did you come up with you name, Foxes and Fables?
The name is really just a combination of my favourite things. I think foxes are fantastic and one of the first pieces I attempted to make was a fox necklace. Frustratingly I’ve yet to create a fox design that I’m completely satisfied with – it’s sort of become my white whale! The fables part is because I often try to tell a story with my work, particularly my earlier designs. For example, my statement sailboat necklace depicts a boat out on the rolling waves with the catch of the day and the seagulls circling hungrily. I based the design on my memories of battling the elements at the seaside with my parents.
I often try to tell a story with my work. My sailboat necklace depicts a boat out on the rolling waves with the catch of the day and the seagulls circling hungrily.
How did you come to the decision that jewellery was your passion? What other crafts did you try first?
It did take me a while to get to jewellery. Originally I studied Fine Art at Coventry University where I specialised in printing and paper sculpture. I was good at drawing but I would find it quite stressful and always preferred building things. After university I tried out a few different part-time craft courses and as soon as I started silversmithing I knew it was meant to be.
A lot of my designs start with a brainstorm and then plenty of doodling, then I just get stuck into making it in silver.
You live in the countryside and it inspires a lot of your work. Where else do you find inspiration, when you aren’t riding your bike down the canal and enjoying beautiful Wales?
I love to read and I can’t get enough of a good period drama. I suppose I’m inspired by the romance of eras past – in a lot of my newer work I’ve tried to capture a bit of that vintage glamour and romance and give it a slight contemporary twist. My wire bead work was me trying to recreate 1920s bling and pearl necklaces. I think it should be compulsory to have a martini while wearing them.
Tell us about your process, how do you go from initial idea to finished piece?
A lot of my designs start with a brainstorm and then plenty of doodling. I don’t get too hung up on perfecting my initial sketches, otherwise I would spend days getting every bit right and have a very pretty picture but no finished product. Instead I work on getting the shape correct and then I just get stuck into making it in silver.
It takes about three full days to make just one wire bead necklace as it’s so intricate.
How long does each piece take to complete?
I’m really bad at timekeeping and if I’ve not got a deadline I get distracted very easily and dip in and out of several projects at a time (I want to be doing everything all at once!). But usually, if I’m being good, I work in batches: I’ll spend a day cutting several pieces out of silver sheet, then another day filing and perfecting the shapes and finally a third day soldering all the components together. So after three days I’ll probably end up with between six and eight finished hand-cut pieces, depending on the designs. However, it takes about three full days to make just one wire bead necklace as it’s so intricate.
A customer asked me to create a piece inspired by her relationship with her late grandfather. I designed a necklace with a bird and a birdcage as birdwatching was something they used to do together.
You do lots of lovely commissions. Which one has been your favourite or most rewarding commission so far?
Commissions are always extra special and although they can be a bit daunting they are always really satisfying in the end. Last year a customer asked me to create a piece inspired by her relationship with her late grandfather. I designed her a necklace with a bird and a birdcage as birdwatching was something she and her grandfather used to do together. That was pretty great and it inspired a new piece for my wildlife collection.
When I’ve got a purpose-built studio where I can work and hold workshops, then I’ll know Foxes & Fables has made it
What’s your favourite part of the making process?
My favourite part would have to be working out the logistics of how to make my doodled designs into something three dimensional that people will want to wear and that will be durable. I want my jewellery to be something someone can treasure for years to come.
Do you have a favourite maker whose work you love? Who are they and what do they create?
I really like Becky Crow’s illustrative jewellery. She makes these fantastic detailed wearable narratives out of silver and copper. I actually have a pair of her fox earrings. I would love to be as successful as her.
It can be quite isolating working at home alone all day and I do occasionally find myself having whole conversations with my cat Daisy!
How do you find working at home? Tell us a little bit about your workspace and your feline helper.
Working from home is great. I’m more of a night owl than a morning person, so I tend to start work in the late morning and work into the evening. I currently work out of our dining room, which is my workshop/office/photo studio. It overlooks the garden, so there’s always some interesting bit of wildlife to see. It can be quite isolating working at home alone all day though and I do occasionally find myself having whole conversations with my cat Daisy! She’s great and keeps me company all day and warm through the winter. Working from home also has the benefit of always having access to a mountain of tea.
My wire bead work was me trying to recreate 1920s bling and pearl necklaces.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business? What do you wish you’d known when you started?
Keep a part-time job if you can. The financial support is a great help when starting a business and if it’s all about money it can be easy to fall out of love with your business very quickly. I wish I had had a creative support network or creative mentor when I started. There are loads of networks and mentor schemes available for artists and new creative businesses but I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. Foxes & Fables has changed a lot since I started it and if I’d been part of a support group I probably would of wasted less time and money getting to where I am now.
I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved so far and I think it’s great that I’ve still got loads to learn and can keep improving my skills.
What hidden talents have you discovered in yourself by starting your own business?
I don’t know if I’ve discovered any hidden talents but I’ve definitely developed plenty of new skills. My product photography has improved immensely since I first started photographing my pieces. I cringe now when I look back on my first jewellery images! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got a way to go but in the last few years I’ve had my images picked up by Folksy and published in a magazine. I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved so far and I think it’s great that I’ve still got loads to learn and can keep improving my skills.
What would be your dream come true for Foxes and Fables in the next few years?
My goal for the last few years has been to be successful enough to have a purpose-built studio in the garden where I can work and hold workshops. I think when I’ve achieved that I’ll be able to say that Foxes & Fables has made it! Until that time I will carry on learning and growing as an artist and enjoying exploring new ideas and products.
To celebrate being our featured maker, Amy is offering 10% off all her handmade jewellery and free delivery within the UK. Just use the code ‘featuredmaker’ when you check out before 12th September 2017.
Meet the interviewer
The maker asking the questions this week is Holly Picthall from Wilful North. Holly is a sock designer by day but spends the rest of her time on her own creative business, Wilful North, designing and making luxury silk scarves, accessories and homewares.