Five minutes with designer/maker duo, I Am Acrylic

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Today we’re finding out about the creative world of the designer/maker duo behind the fabulous jewellery brand, I Am Acrylic.

Hi there, can you tell all of us at Simple Stylish Makes a little bit about yourselves?

Hello! We are Ruth Williams and Brendan Fan. We make individually hand-cut jewellery under the name I Am Acrylic. We primarily work in acrylic (obviously!) to make our sometimes stylish, sometimes cute, and often a bit silly jewellery. Sometimes we’ll add the odd bit of wood or embroidery here or there for a different texture and to give a nice mix of materials.  We are based in Spitalfields, East London.

When did you both start designing/making?

We’ve both enjoyed making since we can remember really! Brendan has always loved to draw! And my Dad is a retired CDT teacher so I grew up surrounded by tools!

When we found some acrylic on the street near our flat back in 2004, it seemed like the obvious thing to try and make something out of it using the fretsaw we’d borrowed from my Dad. Since then we’ve developed the things we make from a few key-rings, just for fun, to a range of jewellery that we sell online, at markets and in about 30 shops in UK and Europe! (And we’re still using that same fretsaw to make everything!)

What do you love about designing/making?

It’s a very satisfying feeling being able to translate an idea that you have in your head into a 3D object whenever you like! It doesn’t always turn out the way you planned – but that kind of experimenting is fun too!

The making process itself is also very therapeutic. Hours of cutting, filing and sanding stuff isn’t such a bad way to spend your time!

Can you share your top designing/making tip?

Possibly my top tip would be not to be too precious about an initial idea. Be prepared to adapt and change it and even go back to the drawing board if it’s not working! Leaving something for a while and then re-visiting it at a later date is a good way to get a fresh perspective too.

Actually I think one of the most important lessons I ever learnt was way back in A Level Art. I had spent literally HOURS making a clay torso, complete with an intricate rib cage inside, when my ceramics teacher came along, and with no warning, got his cheese-wire and cut it in half and then in half again! I couldn’t believe it! But after my initial horror I realised that the pieces he’d created looked AMAZING! I’m not saying cut everything up if it’s not quite working, I’m just saying consider it!

When you’re not designing/making, what do you like to do?

I love a good long (or even very brief!) museum visit from time to time, such a rich source of never-ending inspiration! And trawling around vintage shops and markets is a favourite past-time of mine too (usually trying to find anything miniature!).

Brendan loves to cycle and can be found, pretty much every day after work, cycling around London discovering new short cuts, and interesting objects and buildings that are dotted around this great city!

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