The JQBID will be attending the brand new international show Makers Central in May together with four local Jewellery Quarter makers; B18 Leather, Glenn Campbell Jewellery, Michele White Jewellery and Tina Francis Tapestry.
Leading up to the event, we will shed a spotlight on all of these creative businesses. Every Thursday (starting from today), you’ll learn more about the makers, from what inspires them to what they love about the Jewellery Quarter.
The first profile is on Deborette Clarke (B18 Leather).
Tell us about B18 Leather?
B18 Leather was born from the desire to experiment with leather and a pre-owned sewing machine. I always admired the versatility of the material and after many years as an educator, designer and maker I went back to working with leather after first experimenting with it at college.
Shapes are simple, and colour is key in my work and some pieces are hand painted using a variety of methods. The skin or hide is treated as a blank ‘canvas’ for the experimentation. The leather that I work with is chosen for its textural qualities as well as its colour. I use both mineral and vegetable tanned leather from reputable leather merchants based in the UK.
Why is your business called B18?
Being based in the heart of the Midlands I wanted a name that, although it is a local postcode, also evokes a journey or a destination. The Jewellery Quarter is one of Birmingham’s gems for a variety of reasons, for me the attraction was the buildings and the history of the jewellery trade.
Why did you decide on your chosen profession?
Gosh, well I was a designer/maker who was tired of not being paid on time, I was living in London and my cash flow wasn’t flowing. I applied for lots of different jobs in the creative sector and teaching won. I’ve worked as a creative teacher for years whilst making something or another. I started researching, developing and test marketing my leather ideas and products and last year decided to spend more time on my leather journey.
Have you got any advice for aspiring maker/designers?
Work a full/part-time job, research, test the market, ask people lots of questions, listen and don’t give up. It takes time, there is no fail-safe model.
Who or what is your most influential creative inspiration?
Eeeks! So much over the years, it’s a tough one to answer, as inspiration for me comes from many places, people and situations. I just keep my eyes and ears open, my nose too. Not the answer you were expecting.
What do you enjoy about working in the JQ?
There is so much to see, it’s constantly changing. The JQ community is brilliant, very supportive and some of the characters are priceless, mentioning no names.
Finally, tea or coffee? Which one keeps you going?
Both, it tends to be tea in the morning and coffee in the afternoon, although if I’m out and about that changes.
To find out more about B18 Leather visit the website