Craft Sunday: Q&A with Aubin Stewart


30 August 2019

Our new Get Creative guide takes us from September to December 2019 and includes a whole host of exciting Craft Sunday workshops. Starting us off for the autumn season is Aubin Stewart, an Aberdeen-based jeweller with a love of mixing materials. We're really looking forward to welcoming Aubin to DCA for her Collage Jewellery workshop on Sun 8 September and decided to catch up with her to hear more about what's in store on the day...

Hi Aubin, we're really looking forward to welcoming you for Craft Sunday - what can people expect from your Collage Jewellery workshop?

I am too! I am planning to give an insight into how I approach making in a playful way by encouraging participants to think about colour, shape and composition. We will spend the day playing and experimenting with materials and learning some essential jewellery skills such as saw piercing, drilling, filing and riveting.

"We will spend the day playing and experimenting..."

We can't wait to see what's in your toolbox! What materials and techniques will we be using and learning?

Well, I'd love to take ALL my tools but I'll only be able to take the portable ones to Craft Sunday. There will be bench pegs, piercing saws, lots of hand pliers, drills and hammers so there'll be plenty there for people to get their hands on some noisy making. I'll also be taking some of my giant stash of perspex that I have amassed over the years as well as leather, brass, copper, cord and a few surprises.

You studied just up the road at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) in Dundee. Can you tell us about studying in Dundee and what you did after you graduated?

I graduated in 2000 which I cannot believe is almost 20 years ago! Where has that time gone? At DJCAD, I had a great time and loved being in the jewellery department and dare I say it the MARDI..... My interest in perspex and alternative materials really began there as I always wanted to find ways to introduce colour and playfulness to my designs. After graduating I went on to work in the jewellery trade for a number of years as commission designer/buyer and then later as an antique jewellery dealer for a while too. During this time I began to develop my own work on a very part time basis and began teaching jewellery workshops at Grays School of Art. Gradually I built up my small business over the years and I am now a freelance creative, juggling my own practice as well as teaching and facilitating various projects.

"...I have more creative freedom to make designs with less limitations."

How has your style changed since starting your own jewellery brand in 2008?

My style now is much more defined and with some improvements to my processes and making skills, I have more creative freedom to make designs with less limitations. I now combine traditional jewellery methods with digital surface pattern which is now a strong feature in my collections. 

Your collections mix precious and non-precious materials together, what are your favourite materials to work with?

I love pairing pearls with perspex. I enjoy subverting the idea of what is traditionally seen to be precious by treating non-precious materials in a precious way and throwing away boundaries of what should or shouldn't be paired together. 

Where do you find the inspiration for your work? 

I find that what I am immersed in, in my everyday life is my inspiration. When I worked in the antique trade I was strongly influenced by the art deco period and my work reflected this purely from being exposed to it all the time, it was completely unintentional. Since becoming a mother I am finding that the shapes, colours and compositions that I am creating definitely have a more playful style now that I am immersed in a world of childrens' culture.

All of your pieces are created by you in your Aberdeen studio. Why do you think making by hand is so important?

Making by hand is incredibly important in the high speed digital age that we are living in. Don't get me wrong, I embrace the use of some digital practices in making, as a professional it is sometimes inevitable to opt for the digital method when you only have 1 pair of hands. However making skills are hugely beneficial in developing problem solving capabilities, it can enhance positivity, plus it can encourage learning and self improvement in all sorts of ways. I have seen it transform lots of people who just need time to slow down and think about something else for a bit. 

Thanks Aubin, we can't wait to create some collage pieces with you! Tickets for our Craft Sunday: Collage Jewellery with Aubin Stewart are now sold out but you can take a look at all of our upcoming Craft Sunday workshops here, and watch this space for more maker Q&As.

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