Welcome to BRICKS’ new Handmade at Home series, our new weekly feature highlighting sustainable creators and small businesses currently working from home in lockdown. We know this year has been especially tough for independent creatives, so whether it’s a small business venture or an artistic quarantine project, we’ll be meeting a new creative each week to discuss their DIY creations.
Image with thanks to The Clay Drop
Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your jewellery? I’m Jess (she/her), a 25-year-old jewellery designer from the South of England. I’m a huge lover of colour and all things silly and kooky. I love colour-clashing, pattern mismatching and offbeat, conversation-starting fashion, but comfort is a must for me! If it’s not easy, I won’t wear it. From this concoction of magical ingredients spawned The Clay Drop, a collection of polymer clay earrings and accessories made by me in my studio from home. I make striking jewellery for all types of people, from the cute and quirky to the sassy and spunky. I have customers from all over the world who have one thing in common: they like to dress playfully, feel groovy and express their individuality through the funky things that they wear!
What inspired you to start your own brand? The Clay Drop was born in December 2019, at which time I’d been working as a waitress for 6 years. I wore the same uniform day-in, day-out and felt stripped of my individuality, so took to earrings to express myself and feel a little more like me. I would turn up to work each day in a different pair from my growing collection of silly, funky, weird and wonderful jewels that I’d buy from small businesses. Each day became a guessing game with my colleagues of “what earrings will Jess be wearing today?!”
At some point in late December, while on a day off from work, I decided to pick up polymer clay and try making some earrings of my own. Straight away I was hooked. Shortly after, we went into lockdown and I suddenly had all the time in the world to work on my craft, practise my skills and experiment with all the silly ideas I had in mind. The Clay Drop comes from my love of statement accessories and a simultaneous desire for comfort and ease, so the lightweight and hands-on nature of polymer clay makes it the perfect material for me.
What inspired you to start your own brand? I really enjoy coming up with concepts and creating collections that revolve around a theme. The inspiration for a concept often comes from my own weird imagination and the ideas for pieces evolve organically from there. Sometimes I take inspiration from fashion, music and things that I enjoy. For example, one of my first collections was titled the Cosmic Cowgirl Collection.
The idea came from an obsession I had with cowgirl boots and a joint love of whacky shapes and colours, so combining the two themes inspired me to create an extraterrestrial collection of space X desert-themed earrings. I described it as like imagining a UFO full of disco dancing cowgirls hit a desert and turned everything a bit alien and funky. The most popular and well-loved piece by far from this collection was my Cosmic Cows, which have since evolved and taken on many different personalities of their own! They’re now my best-selling piece and the earrings The Clay Drop is most known for, hence “the home of the Cosmic Cow”!
Can you please describe your process for making your pieces? The process for creating my pieces is slow and time-consuming but filled with so much love at every stage. I first begin by conditioning and mixing a base colour of clay. From there I’ll create the patterns and cut the shapes either by hand or with my own unique custom-made cutters. Each piece is carefully handcrafted and cured in the oven.
Some pieces are varnished or coated in a layer of resin for extra shine. I then sand down the rough edges, drill the holes and assemble the earrings with hooks and jump rings. The final touch is to display them on my branded earring cards ready for packing and posting. I believe polymer clay is a precious material (it is PVC-based after all, so must be respected and used responsibly), so I take a lot of time and care to make my jewellery to a high standard that will hopefully be treasured for many, many years.
Where can we find you? You can keep up with the latest drops on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Twitter @theclaydrop and shop collections online at www.theclaydrop.co.uk
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