‘Just go for it. It could be totally life changing!’ — meet The Workbench London team

‘Oh what, this old ring? I made it myself.’ This is the conversation you could be having in real life when you recieve flattering words from strangers on your silver-adorned fingers following one of The Workbench London’s workshops (or so we imagine). The Workbench London is the brainchild of Katie and Kirstie, two people with one shared creative vision. We wanted to know how it works, and how we can make our own jewellery too. Here’s what they told us:

Tell us about The Workbench London; how did it all begin and who are the masterminds behind it?

The Workbench London was created by us, Katie and Kirstie. We’re both jewellers and best friends. The Workbench gives people the opportunity to create a totally unique and special ring. The ring starts off life as a piece of jeweller’s wax, that the crafters carve into their desired design. We then cast the rings into solid silver, we have plated options and also solid gold options too!

We have quite a creative group of friends and were always trying to get a craft club together, making something that we don’t normally do. Some of us were making patchwork quilts and playing with embroidery but Katie had to make a ring for a client and was producing a wax carved sample, that was being cast into silver, to show the customer before being cast in a more precious metal. We realised that this was a really great thing for anyone to be able to attempt and create something really special, without needing the silversmithing training, that can go on for a long time. We do all of the post-casting work on the rings: so, filing, polishing and plating, if desired.

We wanted to really push that this isn’t a strict lesson or tutorial and that it can be really fun too. We host our events in independent bars and cafes around London so that people can come along with their friends and it becomes more of a social event.

What can people create at your workshops?

What people create wows us every single time. This is another very important element to The Workbench London: although we provide you with advice and information to start you off with your carving, people can create something that is whatever style they choose. Some people make a lovely textured band, others create slick geometric shiny numbers and we get a lot of signet rings being created. Signet rings have been so popular that we have launched a new signet ring class as there are a lot of technical elements to this style of ring. Our signet ring crafters also get the initials of their style and choice on the ring that they create.

workbench london

How did you become involved in jewellery making? Was it always a passion for both of you?

It has always been a passion for both of us and we met on our jewellery degree. We’ve always been very creative from a young age. A shared passion with both of us is that we were always very sure that we’d have our own jewellery brands. Katie has Crux London and Kirstie’s is Kirstie Maclaren. Our jewellery lives started off like this and then a few years down the line The Workbench was created!

How do you come up with new jewellery designs? What inspires your creations?

Well with The Workbench, the creators are totally in control of that. We’ve found that they get inspiration from our Instagram @theworkbenchldn as these are realistic creations and all done with the same process. It’s great to share photos of what people have carved as it’s also an update on their rings before they’re sent out.

How often do you hold workshops, and where are they held?

We normally host around 4-5 workshops a month. They are always held in bars and cafes that we love. Interesting places that make the ring making even more special. People can have a cocktail, a pizza or a cup of tea while they make!

Are there times when workshop creations turn into total flops?

Not really. it can be quite a hard thing to do – carving the wax, but we always help people along the way. It’s always great to see when someone has struggled in the beginning, but then they create an amazing ring design. We talk to everyone about their ring design and how they achieve it. We then re-visit everyone and show them how to do the other elements of their ring and show them special aspects to consider.

What are your top tips for wannabe jewellery makers?

We’d definitely encourage anyone to take up jewellery and to try a silversmithing course. We’ve had a lot of people who attend The Workbench and then go on to doing a jewellery course. That’s so great that we’ve inspired them but also people should realise it’s quite a laborious thing to do and there are still many aspects of the profession that are still very old fashioned. We love this though. So many of the tools are still the same as they were 500 years ago and it’s so interesting. Obviously, there’s CAD, which is a more modern way of working, but we love keeping it old school!

If anyone isn’t able to make our regular London, Manchester or Leicester events, then The Workbench Box is available. Our at-home kit comes with all of the tools and wax, along with our online tutorials.

What’s your advice for people who want to follow creative pursuits in 2017?

Just go for it, now is the time to do it, as there are SO many classes that can give you a taster into things. In the UK, if you’re under 18, there are SO many creative courses available for free, or at a heavily discounted rate, so try anything that could shape and inspire your life! Do it! Adults too – just go for it. It could be totally life changing!

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WRITTEN BY:
Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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