Meet the Maker: Etchable
Etchable was born when Hannah Preece decided to get out of a job that was making her unhappy, bought a laser-cutter and persuaded her partner Matt to bring his design skills to her new creative venture. As she says, they haven’t looked back, and now make a eclectic mix of fun gifts, jewellery and home accessories, hand finished with love, from their spare room in Newcastle upon Tyne. Fellow Folksy maker Shelly Lee caught up with Hannah to talk about their inspiration, their creative process and future plans…
To celebrate being our featured makers, Matt and Hannah are offering 15% off all Etchable products in their Folksy shop until the end of April – just use the code SPRING15. Click here to shop Etchable on Folksy >
We couldn’t imagine a life without creativity in it. When an idea is going well I’m completely absorbed in it.Hannah from Etchable
Hello! Can you tell us a little about yourselves?
Hi, we’re Hannah and Matt. We met 17 years ago in Sheffield and now live in the North East with our two dogs, Ellie and Doris. We have backgrounds in metalwork, jewellery and furniture making – we couldn’t imagine a life without creativity in it! When we’re not working, we love to travel the UK in our 28-year-old motorhome, accompanied by the dogs.
How did Etchable start and what difference does running your own creative business make to your lives?
I was working full time in a job that was making me unhappy, Matt was working away, and at a really low point I simply decided it didn’t have to be this way. We decided to buy a laser cutter – I’d worked with them for the previous seven years, so I knew my way around them, how to maintain and look after them. I haven’t looked back since. Matt still works away part time, but loves having the creative outlet available when he’s home as it’s so therapeutic. I find the creative part of the process is like escapism from the real world, and when an idea is going well I’m completely absorbed in it.
Matt brings the geeky element to our work, with influences from cult TV and gaming, while I’m usually drawn to wildlife and nature.Hannah from Etchable
As there are two of you, do you each have different roles in your business?
We don’t have different roles as such, I think it’s more a case of each of us bringing different interests and influences to our product range. While I enjoy designing and creating more decorative pieces, Matt is more focussed on 3D practical objects – something he’s looking to develop in 2020. He also brings the geeky element to our work, with influences from cult TV and gaming, while I’m usually drawn to wildlife and nature. It’s what gives Etchable such an eclectic range.
Your pieces have such wonderful detail. Do you design your items freehand before you use the laser cutter?
It depends on the design. The more organic shapes are usually sketched and developed by hand, and then scanned to use in the laser. For the more uniform, geometric shapes, the CAD CAM software is the easiest way to create the clean shapes and lines we’re after. We use a lot of repetitive patterns and shapes in our designs, so using computer software makes this a lot easier too.
I love the way our birds have turned out. Each one has its own features… and making them stand brings them to life.Hannah from Etchable
Do you have a favourite piece?
The standing birds have been my favourite to make so far. I love the way each one has turned out. Each bird has its own features, almost giving them different personalities. It was fun developing something more than a flat 2D product – I think it brings them to life. The painting stage is also really satisfying, as you can bring out the characteristics of each bird.
The more organic shapes are usually sketched and developed by hand. For the more uniform, geometric shapes, our software is the easiest way to create the clean shapes and lines we’re after.Hannah from Etchable
I love all your birds too, especially your blue tit. I was wondering if you had a favourite garden bird?
My favourite garden bird is the male bullfinch – they’re very handsome. Matt’s is the starling. He finds the way they trot around on the floor, looking for food, comical.
Who or what influences your work? Do you have a favourite artist?
A big influence for me is the American wildlife artist Charley Harper. I absolutely love the simplicity and geometry of his birds, in particular. We also love the work of the wood engraver Thomas Bewick. He was born only a couple of miles from where we live, and worked in Newcastle. The details in his engravings are amazing – if you haven’t seen his work, I recommend taking a look. Matt’s inspiration comes from a variety of artists. He loves the work of furniture maker James Krenov and the intricately detailed artwork of Kim Jung Gi.
Our workspace is currently our spare room… until we get round to building a workshop at the bottom of the garden.Hannah from Etchable
Can you describe your workspace. Do you have your own workshop?
I think we would currently describe our workspace as a work in progress! It’s currently our spare room, but has everything we need in it to cut and package products. Sanding and finishing is done outside until we get round to building the planned workshop at the bottom of the garden.
I love to have an audio book on while I work. Do you listen to music or background TV while you create?
I’m a bit of a true crime addict, so a good true crime podcast can keep me going for hours. If I’m on the laptop designing or updating social media, I’ll have a TV crime drama making some noise in the background. We’re currently in the middle of the Fargo series.
Wholesale is another place to explore, as well as expanding the product range. I think that’s enough to keep us busy for now!Hannah from Etchable
Lastly, do you have any big or new plans for Etchable?
We have a few things planned for this year. We’re sharing a pop-up shop with a friend in May, which we’re currently preparing for. We’d also like to try out a few carefully selected markets, as that’s something we haven’t ventured into yet. Wholesale is another place to explore, as well as expanding the product range. I think that’s enough to keep us busy for now!
Enjoy 15% off Etchable before the end of April with code SPRING15
Meet the interviewer
The maker asking the questions this week is potter Shelly Honey from By Shelly Lee. Visit her shop on Folksy and read our interview with Shelly here – https://blog.folksy.com/2020/03/02/by-shelly-lee-ceramics