Kick-Starting Elements 3 and our Latest Project on Ethical Jewellery Practices
It’s been a very busy February for the Elements’ team! The time has come for Elements to refresh its sparkle and get ready for its upcoming third edition! Having launched our call for entries only a week ago, we are pleased to have received a substantial number of new talents unknown to Elements before. We have also marked the international #FairTradeFortnight (27th February – 12th March) by organising the first of series of Symposiums on ethical jewellery making practices – part of our latest project on launching the first of its king online ethical jewellery resource informing makers who want to make the transition to a more sustainable jewellery practice.
What’s new this year?
We have updated our website so that your applications are now done via our online application form. We’ve timed it and it only takes 90 seconds (if you type fast)!
How to Apply for Elements 3?
If you are a returning or a new exhibitor, head over to our Apply page and fill in the form by Friday 24th March. It is important to provide your current email address and 4 high resolution images of your most representative work. Wait until you see a ‘Thank You’ message. Now, carry on creating! We will let you know by Monday 3rd April if you have been successful.
Maker’s Success Story:
Karen Westland on Ethical Jewellery Practices
At the beginning of February, the Incorporation of Goldsmiths was also busy organising the first of its kind Symposium on ethical jewellery practices in Scotland, accompanied by a practical designer workshop led by Ute Decker & Greg Valerio – designers & activists. Kick-starting the day under the motto ‘It’s in Our Hands!’, we also had the great pleasure to have Karen Westland, silversmith and exhibitor at Elements 2, speaking about her ventures in finding and incorporating sustainably sourced materials in her practice.
Karen is a young maker who, when still at Glasgow School of Art, had started to pose the moral questions of what is ethical in jewellery making and how she could make a positive impact to those distant, dispersed mining communities when sourcing her materials. During the Symposium, she provided us with her fresh perspective on the initial steps to a more ethical jewellery practice.
Winning the Outstanding Scottish Student Award from the Incorporation of Goldsmiths gave Karen her first opportunity to work with recycled silver and gold and re-purposed copper on a larger scale. After graduation, she went on the prestigious postgraduate diploma at Bishopsland. At that time, she started thinking more about her future buyers and the balance between form and function with regards to making longer-lasting, user-friendly items. There she also realised the essence that would later define her future work; that of embedding social responsibility, honesty, respect and transparency in everything she does. By changing and adapting her practice in a more sustainable way, she also had an indirect positive influence on her customers, as through the story of the origin of her precious items she could achieve emotional engagement – unseen on the high street!
on Sustainable practices
Karen defined a responsible practice as one in which you are honest to yourself and to your clients, being transparent to your clients and suppliers and being respectful to all in your supply chain. Karen noted that the responsible standards she prioritises in her practice such as her diligent reuse of studio materials and her partnerships with UK businesses comes from within her, they are not market-led.
For me, going to ethical-based lectures on an annual basis are a great opportunity to make time to reflect, think about what needs to be improved and to motivate you towards your aims for improvement. – Karen Westland
To deal with ethical dilemmas and the fragmented web of information on ethical making, Karen says that it’s not solely about the used metal, but also about being a pioneer in the field. As she notes, ‘if you don’t do it, someone else will do it‘.
Building a sustainable business doesn’t happen overnight. Karen advises to pay attention to the full picture by making items last longer by taking every commission case by case.
Tackle issues as you go and learn from your experiences and continue to ask questions. Find out what works for your business and be in control of it, this will add value to your business. – Karen Westland
I was originally overwhelmed by the idea [of ethical making], but now that I’ve heard more about it, I feel like it’s a journey I can definitely start on, and make a difference. – Jen Cunningham
Our Newest Project
The World’s First Online Living Resource on Ethical Jewellery Making
If Karen’s advice appeals to you and if you’re looking to embrace ethical making in your practice, we have you covered! Check out our snapshot of the Symposium on Benchpeg, including important tips from our keynote speakers – Greg and Ute, who focused on how to trace and tell the story of your creations. During the practical maker workshop, they explained often confusing terms, such as FairTrade, FairMined, Recycled & Ethical and Ute shared her 9-year-long research on ethical practices and her rich source of suppliers which can be found on her website.
That’s not all! We are currently working on our newest project to make ethical jewellery & silversmithing easy, by providing a melting pot for all interested makers in the form of a website of practical information with tips, techniques & supplier lists, as well as a virtual discussion forum.
Turning back to Elements, we are looking forward to hear from more designers using or interested in switching to ethically-sourced materials. Get in touch with your ideas at email@example.com and stay tuned for more developments on our part!