We thought it was about time to introduce you to the makers behind our fabulous handmade goodies in-store…so, in the next of our Meet the Makers of OHC specials, please say hello to Zoe of Urban Magpie….
How did you become a designer/maker?
The first pieces of jewellery I made were Christmas presents for family. The Urban Magpie brand came about by accident, as people started asking me to make pieces for them. I got the bug and carried on making pieces of jewellery for fun. Eventually I’d made so many that I realised I should start selling them.
I studied Fine Art at De Montfort University in Leicester, where I focussed on mixed media art & assemblage collage. Years later, and my jewellery making has at its root the idea of jewellery as tiny, wearable mixed-media artworks. I’m interested in recycling and upcycling objects which have a patina of age and use, a back-story, or a historical resonance.
How did you choose your business name and what’s the meaning behind it?
I wanted a business name which would serve as an alter-ego as well as a brand. The name Urban Magpie comes from my habit of collecting shiny found objects wherever I go, and my love for recycling the flotsam and jetsam of the city. I think it describes me rather well.
Do you run your business full time or balance another job as well?
I have a part-time day job, as a retail layout designer for a large supermarket. Most of the rest of my time is taken up by Tiny Magpie, who is nearly six, and Micro Magpie who is nearly 10 months old. I squeeze jewellery making into what’s left of my spare time, as it gives me a creative release from the computer-based design work of my day job.
How do you make time for it all?
I’m an obsessive list maker, and I grab tiny pockets of time throughout the week to get through all my tasks! Most of my making is done in the evening once the little Magpies are tucked up in bed. The bigger Magpie likes to ‘help’ me with my product photography.
What’s your favourite thing about running your business?
I love having the chance to be creative and experiment with materials which aren’t usually associated with jewellery (for example brass architectural antiques.) I also really enjoy the idea that I’m rescuing long-lost treasures and giving them a new life. For example with the vintage bone china flower brooches which I painstakingly restore and convert into necklaces, rings & hair accessories. What’s even more exciting is knowing that people enjoy wearing them, and sometimes even become avid Urban Magpie collectors.
Of all the things you’ve ever made, which has been your favourite?
I recently had the privilege of designing a bespoke collection of jewellery for a mini series being filmed in Yorkshire. Unconstrained by considerations such as scale, practicality, or the need to produce multiples, I could dig into my box of trinkets with gusto and do some really fun recycling. I created a collection of mixed media jewellery for the show, which included recycled Victorian brass drawer handles, antique metal belt buckles and copious vintage pearls. My favourite was the complex shoulder-piece worn by the main character.
Describe your business in three words
Jewellery from Junk!
We just love your whimsical and fabulous creations Zoe – and we adore your Recycled Jewellery Creative Craft Classes too! Thanks so much for dropping by and telling us your story. You can find the Urban Magpie collection in store now.
See you at the shop x