Monday, 21 October 2013
LONELY SOLDIER DESIGNS
EYE WATERINGLY STUNNING and UNIQUE!!!!
That was my initial reaction to JAMES FERRIS's
wearable wire art! And if you've not already heard of his talent
... read on ... and find out more!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND?
When I left school in 1991, I did 10 years of further education on
various art courses: graphic design, fine art and photography.
I got kicked out of university in 2001, which to my pleasure, left
me to pursue my love of underground psychedelic dance music
(psy-trance) and my love of DJ'ing, playing in clubs, warehouses,
fields and forests across the country and generally giving the
police a good game of 'cat and mouse' on a Saturday night! I still
DJ today, although mainly in clubs - as I'm getting too old to give
the police the run around these days ... (I leave that one up to
During my time at University, I met my long-term partner,
Tabatha (we have the most beautiful daughter called
Belle-Blossom) and in 2005 we moved to Somerset. In 2010,
we decided to give up the 'rat race' and open our own Bead Shop
in Glastonbury, MINERVA BEADS and CRAFTS. I can't take
the credit for this idea, it was Tabatha's bead collection that just
got too big ... we had to do something with all those beads,
before we physically drowned in them ... !
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO SET UP 'LONELY SOLDIER DESIGNS'?
'Lonely Soldier' was never intentional, it just kind of happened.
We had opened the shop and obviously, I had to learn about beading
so that I could offer advice and teach the basics. After nearly 9
months of stringing, I felt creatively stunted. I was getting bored ...
until one Sunday, Tabatha came back from a bead fair in Wincanton
with a book by Sharilyn Miller. Now, this was my 'cup of tea'!
Molding and wrapping wire in infinite ways, opening up a world
of creative possibilities - I had always loved doing sculpture at
art college! With this inspiration, I started making bracelets and
necklaces, buying as many books I could find on the subject to
feed my hungry appetite for twisting wire!
Then one day, 'Chrissie B' (one of Minerva's designers) came into
the shop and said: "Jim, have you seen this wire artist on Facebook
called JASON BURRUSS? Go check him out!" So, I did just that.
"WOW!!" was all I could say ... his pendant making was something
I just had to have a go at ... and that's how, 'Lonely Soldier' was born!
I had at last found my niche in life! A way that I could finally
express my creative side and possibly make a living out of it.
Something I had always dreamed of doing!
DO YOU HAVE ANY FORMAL TRAINING?
I am completely self-taught. Never had a workshop, just learnt
the very basics from books (Linda's being some of those).
I have a very good understanding of design, due to my many
years at college and also, my hero, my Granddad, Bill Oakley,
gave me a great understanding of tools from a very early age.
He was head master carpenter for the Queen at Windsor Castle
until 1981. I credit him a lot in my workshops and quote him all
I have put a lot of time into it, it's the only way to get good! I
have dedicated and immersed myself in my art, striving to
improve on every piece I create to better myself. You have got
to really love it and want to make it work ... its borderline
obsession with me, I'm like that when I get hooked on something.
It first started with juggling, then DJ'ing and now it's wire sculpture
that can be worn! I can't wait to see what the future holds, now I
am on this path!
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR DESIGNS?
My inspiration comes from all over: movies, music, books
(I'm a big fantasy reader), nature, art, other designers, etc...
When my good ideas come to me, I find that I'm not in my
workshop and as far away as possible from a piece of wire.
Normally with my headphones on and spinning some tunes on
my decks, or out walking the dog. I also find, that if I think of
something as I go to bed, my brain will process the idea while
I'm asleep and have the answer ready for me when I wake up.
My daughter also inspires me every day to better myself and
work towards a better life for her. Hopefully, she will be proud
of me in the years to come (she is only 2 years old) as I would
like to leave a legacy for her to follow if she so chooses. (No
doubt, as I teach her the craft, she will be showing me up in
years to come!).
The stones I wrap also give me inspiration. I'm not one those
types that believes in the powers of crystals ( I know ... I live
in Glastonbury, but not all of us hippie types go in for that!). I
also try and look for patterns in the stone that I'm using, which
can be complemented with the wire, however, this sometimes
just doesn't happen the way you want it - you have an image
in your head, but then it turns into something else by the
time you have finished!
DO YOU TEACH, OR CONTRIBUTE TUTORIALS TO
Yes, I do teach the art of wire wrapping pendants in my shop.
All are one-to-one sessions, or a couple of friends (check out our
website for the details: www.minervabeadsandcrafts.co.uk)
I am just revising my workshops at the moment ... yet again ...
to bring a wider range on the understanding of capturing a stone,
or bead in wire. The thing is, I have set myself a mission to teach
the art (craft and techniques), not the set designs. Wire wrapping
stones is endless and variable, it could be anything once you know
a few weave and wrap patterns, plus a few processes of capturing
the stone, it then becomes all about engineering the wire into a
pleasing design. It's a bit like chess at times, working your next
3 to 4 move's out and visualising in your head before you commit!
This is something I feel cannot be taught. Something that you have
to learn for yourself through trial and error, however, I can get
you started on the path of wire wrapping (a luxury I didn't have).
I also write projects for Making Jewellery Magazine every couple
of months or so. This I find really hard but at the same time,
immensely enjoyable. It's such a challenge to get a project to
work in 9 easy steps and 'X' amount of words per image. Writing
for the magazine has been great, as it has helped me towards
contextualising my first kit for the shop and has inspired me to
start thinking about writing my own book on the Art of Wrapping
Stones. I've got the layout for the book already sorted, just got
to get my head down and get on with filling in the gaps ... I think
I just need to lock myself away and get on with it!
HOW TO YOU PROMOTE AND SELL YOUR WORK?
Selling my work has been hard. We have just employed a new
member of staff that is well trained in this, to help with jewellery
sales in the shop. Mind you, my 'Tree of Life' pendants are selling
like 'hot cakes', I desperately need to make a new batch! We are
also thinking of putting a stall together to to take to festivals next
summer and some higher end craft fairs.
Promoting myself has been easy: having run club nights and raves
for the past 13 years and amassing all that know-how through
successes and failures! I have now applied some this experience
to the promotion of Lonely Soldier Designs.
Most of my promotion is done through social media, FACEBOOK
being the one I use most. My Facebook fan page got me the job
with Making Jewellery Magazine (the editor came across my work
and sent me a post asking if I would like to write projects for them).
Plus, having projects in the magazine has done wonders for
promotions on workshops - I have even had a lady from Vancouver
in Canada come and do a workshop with me thanks to the magazine!
HAVE YOU ANY SPECIAL ADVICE FOR OTHER'S JUST
STARTING OUT IN JEWELLERY MAKING?
Start with the basics and perfect them. In my workshops, I
always say perfecting and understanding the simple eye loop
is possibly the most important skill to learn. How do you
think I attach the wire in the most awkward spots? Also, take
your time and don't steam ahead. Pause to stop and look
properly at what you're doing. Making sure your finish is
spot on, whether it's a simple design, or super complicated.
It it's well finished, it will look good!
WHAT ARE YOUR YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS?
That's a tough question! I suppose I just hope the business goes
well and myself and my partner, Tabatha, make a good living
so that we can just carry on being creative. It's an environment
that I'm looking forward to my daughter up in. All I have ever
wanted in life is to be creative - it started from a very early age!
The other goal I want to reach soon, is to have my own studio,
so that I can expand on designs and ideas. Currently I am working
from home and I've taken over the lounge along with all my
daughter's toys ... so it's getting a bit cramped! ... plus ... I know
any time soon, my invite to Hogwarts is coming by owl delivery ...
THANK YOU, JIM, for taking time to do
this feature and for sharing your stunning
work! I have no doubt that your wire artistry
will soar to new levels and you will receive
the recognition and success that you truly