Thursday 29 September 2011

Introducing....Jo Tinley!

Welcome to my little blog series, Introducing....where I ask some of my favourite artists about themselves and their work. It's just my excuse to be nosy, really!

This week, it's my lovely colleague from Beads and Beyond magazine, Jo Tinley. She is based down south in the UK, and I've long been a fan of her clean lines and beautifully finished work. Very different from mine, but I love it! I have made a pact with myself that at some point, I WILL make it down to her place for some silversmithing day. But without further ado, I will hand over to....

Q1.How long have you been creating, and what led you to begin?

A1. I have been creating something for as long as I can remember! I’m really lucky that I come from a family where crafts were valued and encouraged. My Mum and my Grandmas taught me how to sew, knit and crochet when I was very young and I was always making simple necklaces or bags as presents for friends. Although crafts were encouraged, the idea of making a career out of one just didn’t occur to me and I eventually ended up as a Head of Year at a large secondary school. In 2002 I had was involved in a car accident and had to have 6 weeks off work. My birthday was at the start of the 6 weeks so to stop me from going insane with boredom my family bought me proper jewellery pliers and other lovely things to replace the cheap DIY tools I had been using, and off I went! I ended up selling my jewellery at local shows, teaching simple jewellery making at my school’s summer school sessions, teaching classes at a local art gallery and, after answering an advert in a magazine, writing magazine projects. Making jewellery helped me to relax after a stressful day at school. By the time my eldest son was born in 2005 I had a small business going and we decided that I should leave my job to look after the baby and set up the business properly around him.

So, you could put my current career and way of life down to a wonderfully supportive family and a woman in a white rover in Sainsbury’s carpark who thought her accelerator was her brake!

Q2.What do you get out of creating – be that emotionally, physically, mentally?

A2. I absolutely have to create. I get cranky if I don’t! I’ve learnt the hard way that as much as I adore my family and love spending time with my two boys I also need time in my workshed hammering and soldering to make me the best mum that I can be, so that when I’m not working my attention is completely on them. I find my work soothing and very therapeutic. I can shut the shed door, put the radio on and I’m in my own piece of heaven. I do get very nervous, however, when a client comes to pick up a commission! It’s not so bad when I post commissions to people, but I find myself holding my breath when people open up my little brown boxes in front of me!

Q3.What do you find inspiring?

A3. Everything! Patterns in fabric, the colours on the trees or in a ball of yarn, everything around me. The materials I work with are also very inspiring, especially the beautiful stones and lampwork beads I’m lucky enough to use.

Q4. Describe your workspace – are you lucky enough to have a studio set up, or are you like me and work in odd corners of your house?

A4. The tools and materials that my family first bought me fitted into a small wooden box – I soon out grew that! I am now the very proud owner of an 8’ by 12’ shed, fully insulated with electricity and lights. My partner built it for me with help from my brother. It overlooks the garden, so when the boys are old enough to play in the garden while I’m working I’ll still be able to look out and see what they’re up to. It’s big enough for me and two students, and I regularly run private tuition sessions in it. It’s got everything I need set up exactly how I want it, but despite the fact that I’ve got so much space I still spread out over all three workdesks much of the time! I am a very very lucky girl. My favourite time to work in there is early evening in the summer when the sun shines beautifully in through the long windows.

Q5.What are your favourite materials to work with and why?

A5. Silver and stones are my favourites by far. I love the versatility of silver, that I can use it to make my own chains, stone settings, rings, everything I need. I have had to learn to be more economical in these times of horribly high prices though, and recycle a lot of my scrap. Pieces of sheet left over from making a pendant get sent through the rolling mill to become a larger area of thinner sheet suitable for earrings, for example, and tiny pieces of scrap are melted to become the balls that I use on many pieces, including my poppy clasps.

Many of the semi-precious stones that I use are unique, and I get a lot of inspiration from them. They quite often tell me exactly what they should be turned into! A friend of mine has an etsy shop that sells amazing stones. We originally met when she came to me for tuition, and after I taught her how to bezel set stones she became so addicted to buying them that she had to set up shop to sell some of them on. She now pays me in stones for her tuition – the perfect arrangement!

Q6. Do you have a favourite bead or supplies shop you could share with us?

A6. There’s obviously the big shops like Cookson Gold and Sutton Tools, but two of my favourites are Mindy Macgregor’s lampwork beads at Moogin Beads ( and my friend Brenda’s semi-precious stones at Iced Hot Rocks  (

Q7.If you were to draw attention to a favourite designer or artist, who would it be and why?

A7. It has to be Mindy Macgregor! Her lampwork bead are so beautiful, such a wonderful use of colour. Her poppy beads are my favourite and I was lucky enough to snap up a poppy cabochon that I’ve set in silver as the centre piece of a necklace. I love that she sits in her workshop at home and makes the beads, I then sit in my workshop at my home and make something with them! Work that I make with her beads always sells quickly.

Thanks so much Jo! I love your work and especially your new range of findings - but then, I think you knew that already, didn't you?!

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Jo said...

Thank you so much for featuring me Rebecca!

Heidi Post said...

Oh I am jealous of Jo's shed! Isn't it funny how what probably seemed horrible at the time (the accident) could lead to a really amazing career? Beautiful work; I enjoyed reading her interview.


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