Tes Gamwell: ‘So Sweetly Unique’

Tes Gamwell and mum, Kath  produce hand-made accessories unlike anything available on the highstreet. Here they talk about setting up their business.

‘So Sweetly Unique’ – run by Tes Gamwell and mum, Kath – produce hand-made accessories unlike anything available on the highstreet. Their solid silver jewellery is made from clay, enamel, 24CT gold other embellishments, and their very popular fingerprint jewellery preserves a loved one’s fingerprint in silver. ‘So Sweetly Unique’ also run jewellery making parties, where friends can relax together whilst creating their own amazing pieces from start to finish – an experience to really get those creative juices flowing. Our Creative Content producer, Abi Barragry, met with ‘maker’, Tes, to find out more.

So, how did it all start?

I got back creating and making a few years ago after working as a translator, a job I just fell into. After deciding to stay at home with my second little one, I began a degree with The Open University in Design and Innovation. My mum, Kath, has many years of design experience. ‘So Sweetly Unique’ developed organically; we began to make jewellery for ourselves as we wanted unique pieces that weren’t mass produced. From there, we started designing, learning more techniques and generally playing with materials until friends started asking us to do bits for them, and so it began…

What inspires you to be creative?

Lots of things! But what I learn from the most and what provokes my creativity is, unusually, failure. I find failure creates opportunity; to see the materials I work with in a different way, discover their true limitations. Sometimes, weird and wonderful things happen when not everything goes to plan.

How does being creative affect you on a personal level?

As someone who has suffered from GAD (generalised anxiety disorder) for quite a while, overthinking and worrying is a big part of the anxiety. Creating enables me to focus. I find the process of having an idea in my mind, following a process and eventually creating that idea, making it a reality, really helps me to gain some clarity. I forget the chores, the studies, the bills and all the general responsibilities of modern life. I love the idea of giving physical form to something in my imagination. It’s soothing and thrilling at the same time.

How has Sheffield influenced your art?

Being a maker is Sheffield is amazing! People are beginning to take more interest in the designer of a product and not just the final product, looking more closely at the design process. This is fantastic for small businesses that invest a lot of time and energy into getting that process just right. There are some incredible designers and artists in Sheffield who support others with get their stuff out there. Although Sheffield is losing its industrial reputation, it has become an art and design opportunity for many.

How do you overcome challenges to your creativity?

The main challenge I faced was accepting that the pieces I was producing by hand were not going to be machine perfect. But I learned to adapt the making-process to suit my own creativity and soon, began to see that those little imperfections were what made them individual, special and beautiful- like the people we were making them for. Hence the name ‘So Sweetly Unique’…

Necklaces

What advice do you have for other creative types who may be inspired to set up a business like yours?

I say go for it! Try and spend a little time each week doing something creative – you don’t have to be a master of the arts – I’m not! Just imagine you’re an 8-year-old let loose with glue, feathers, paint and glitter. Children don’t restrict their imaginations like adults do, let go of those boundaries and get stuck in. Be playful, be 8!

This is, in part, why we provide the jewellery making experience. Get a few friends together with a few glasses of wine, relaxed in their own home, and those limitations drop away. Clients design and make their own pieces, from shaping the clay, to firing it and turning it into the silver that we recognise. We give guidance in regards to the materials but the rest is down to them.

Sometimes you just have to give stuff a go and not be too hard on yourself if doesn’t quite go as expected the first time!

Sounds like you work incredibly hard! How do you unwind? Action-packed adventure holiday or horizontal-type vacation?

At first I would say a relaxed holiday but after 2 days of doing nothing I would start getting twitchy and agitated. I am the furthest from an adrenaline junkie you can get but I love to try new things. I may be reticent at first (and I may never do it again) but at least I can say I tried!

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