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  • Ruth Leslie in her studio

One to Watch: Ruth Leslie

We speak to Jeweller Ruth Leslie about discovering metalwork, finding inpiration from looms and Hothouse 2017

Ruth is a jeweller who recently graduated from The Glasgow School of Art. Working in a variety of metals including silver, gold and titanium she creates sculptural jewellery inspired by the irregularities within fabrics and the structural forms within textile machinery.

Ruth has been selected for Hothouse, the Crafts Council's Talent Development Programme for emerging makers. Find out more about Hothouse

What first got you interested in making?

Of course art was my favourite subject at school, and I always knew I would go down a creative path career wise. I think it was a combination of both my education and family influence. The school I attended was very focused on ‘fine art’, so there was a lot of painting and drawing, but I enjoyed the few design projects we were given. My auntie has an amazing collection of contemporary jewellery, which I was fascinated by. I loved how everyday items and ‘rubbish’, for example, paper, ring pulls, safety pins, tape and so on could be made into beautiful objects. However the idea of being a skilled craftsperson and being able to work with metal was what I was drawn to most, as before I went to university I had no idea what metalwork entailed and it seemed unattainable in a way.

Gold plated heddie earrings courtesy of The Scottish Gallery

What in particular drew you to silver and precious metals?

Initially, I struggled with metalwork. It didn’t quite happen for me as naturally as it did for others, but it was in my final year that my confidence significantly grew and I began to really enjoy the process of working with metal. 

Part of me is a bit like a magpie, I am just naturally drawn to silver and gold! And they are both so satisfying to work with, when it goes right! The titanium came later on when I wanted to add some colour to my work but also still wanted it to be metal based. 

Where have you shown and sold your work so far?

To date, I have only exhibited in a few places. My first exhibition after the degree show was New Designers in London then followed by Gill Wing’s winter showcase in London. A few pieces from my degree show collection were taken to Lake Garda for the Premio Fondazione Cominelli annual exhibition. I was approached by The Scottish Gallery where I then had a showcase entitled ‘Next Generation’ in May 2016 and they still currently stock some of my work. I was an Artist-in-Residence at Edinburgh College of Art from 2015-2016 so at the end of the year we had an AiR show at both the Tent gallery in ECA as well as St. Margaret’s House in Edinburgh.

Which project are you most proud of so far and why?

Since graduating over a year ago, my work has continued to be inspired by my degree show. My final year at university was a culmination of hard work, dedication and creativity and I still feel proud and enthusiastic about this work. This is partially due to the success and positive feedback I have received from friends, customers, galleries and fellow jewellers, but also because there still seems to be a continuous stream of ideas related to this project.

Inkle 3 Neckpiece 2016, Silver

What do you hope to get from Hothouse?

I hope to feel more confident in my decisions, be that creatively or when it comes to business ideas. I acknowledge that it is a difficult task, being able to continue to be the designer I want to be, but also to be able to support myself financially, as they do not teach you much about that at art school. I also think Hothouse will be a great way to meet other makers in the same boat, with the potential for future collaborations. 

Your jewellery is inspired by details within fabric – what is it about this that appeals and why?

Alongside metalwork, I have always found textile design attractive and exciting. The close-up details and repetitive patterns of fabrics such as the warp and weft in a weave are satisfying and inspiring. I thought I would try to translate the colour and weave into metalwork, but in the process found myself drawn to their means of production, the looms, and more specifically, the heddles within looms. 

Who would be your dream client and why?

I would like to have a fairly broad appeal and sell to anyone who has an interest in unique jewellery, and preferably someone who will commission me every year for the next ten years!!  

You can see more work from Ruth and follow her at the Crafts Council Directory