When Sarah, Kirstin and I headed to the Renegade Craft fair in London in September we were really blown away but some of the London-based designers and the unique approach they had to their handmade ranges. One stall we all fell in love with was the ‘I Am Acrylic’ duo, who were making a very appealing range of jewellery from acrylic and wood, but were doing it by hand live at the event. Having made a conscious decision to have a couple of sellers at each Brighton Craftaganza market from outside the area to keep things fresh an interesting, they were a natural choice to invite to sell with us. Luckily for us, Ruth and Brendan had a free selling-window on Saturday 8th December, so you will be able to see the and their mini-workshop in Brighton at the Fabrica Gallery!
Please introduce yourself….
We are ‘I Am Acrylic’ – AKA – Brendan Fan & Ruth Williams. Brendan grew up in a small former coal mining village in Somerset called Timsbury. Ruth went to a tiny junior school in West Sussex called Itchingfield County Primary School. A bit later on, we met at Winchester School of Art where we both studied Fine Art, and we now live and work in London.
Describe the products you currently make to sell
We make necklaces, brooches, and rings, mostly made from acrylic, but also
incorporating wood, metal and needlework. Our designs usually end up being fun, cute and quirky. All of our pieces are individually cut by hand on our noisy mechanical fretsaw. And then we file and sand them to make them look nice.
Where and when do you design and make your products?
We design and make everything in our little flat. We’ve converted the place so that it’s more of a workshop than a home – with no soft furnishings anywhere. This means we cannot relax and must work constantly from dawn until midnight. (except, that is, for a break at 4pm every day to watch Deal Or No Deal.)
How long have you been selling your wares and how did it begin?
I Am Acrylic began about 8 years ago when Brendan made Ruth a keyring for
her birthday. It was based on a big fat Robin logo that she loved, on the
side of a building in Soho and was made from some acrylic we found discarded
outside our flat.
This was the first time Brendan used the mechanical fretsaw (see below) that Ruth’s dad (a retired CDT teacher) had lent to us. (um….we still need to give that back…… We started selling keyrings soon after this, and from there it’s grown into the range we have today.
Ruth loves to sew, she’s been working on a quilt for 2 years now – with 999 hand stitched hexagons – but most of the time she likes to make funny props for our market stall! Brendan loves to cook and is always in charge of what’s for dinner!
What inspires the things you make?
Most of our designs start out as presents for our friends or from word association games and silly conversations….Such as our ‘A Bird in the hand is worth Two in the Bush’ ring and brooch (pictured below)…
We quite often test our new designs out on our market stall to see if other people like them too!
“Do your best and don’t worry!” (And if that doesn’t work – “Suck it up and stop crying!”)