Maker of the Month: KATE TROUW
Welcome Home has been stocking Kate Trouw's jewellery since late last year but you could be forgiven for having not noticed as her pieces don’t hang around for long. People are enamoured by the playful, bright, wiggly forms as soon as they set eyes on them. They’re bold, fun and cheerful in their colour and form, but also maintain a cleanness and contemporary feel.
The physicality of her polymer clay pieces is just as pleasing as their aesthetic, when fired it hardens to a smooth matte surface. There’s something almost sweetie like about the texture, weight and colour of the pieces you want to wear them but also maybe just sink your teeth into them a little (we have refrained).
We’re always looking for designers based close to home and felt very lucky to stumble across Kate’s work. Based in coastal Fife, across the water from the capital she has her design roots in architecture but has evolved over the past few years into the self employed designer maker we meet today.
How long have you been making jewellery and what brought you to it? Tell us about your transition from architecture to jewellery making.
I've been making jewellery for almost three years now and I still have to pinch myself that it has become my day job. Working as part of a big team is what I found most fun about architecture, but that inevitably means that the design is affected by all of the people involved from the client to the builders who actually make the thing. Occasionally, if you are lucky, this feels like an amazing collaborative project and the end result is better because of it. Mostly though it involves compromises, and did I mention that it takes AGES for an initial design to turn into a building? A lot of projects often don't even make it that far. With jewellery it's much more intuitive, concrete and rewarding and there is something special about making something from scratch with your hands.
You’ve travelled a lot throughout your life. How does being based in coastal Fife effect your current creative mentality?
It's wonderful. I miss London sorely but I now have a beautiful shared studio space in a converted Art Deco cinema up on a cliff overlooking the sea, which is something I've always dreamed of. Moving from my spare room in London to this peaceful place has made my designs more expansive and free, but having a proper studio has also helped me feel more professional too. I feel a lot more focused up here and being able to clear my head by going for a swim or a walk on the beach is, well, perfect!
We imagine there's a certain immediacy to working in polymer clay but your pieces always look so well conceived and balanced in their form and colour. What does your design process look like?
It's long and emotional, but hopefully ends on a high! I usually have ideas already that I want to develop into a new collection, little doodles or one-off pieces that I have made in the past that somehow fit together around a loose theme. I then make hundreds of test pieces and go through weeks of doubt that I'll ever make anything good again. I have to force myself to stay at my desk and to keep making even though I'd rather be anywhere else. It can be painful but, eventually, something clicks and a design falls into place, and I feel exhilarated! That feeling is worth the wait.
Your imagery and styling really brings your pieces to life. Is this a part of the process that you savour and enjoy?
Yes, although I do find it challenging. I do most of the styling and photography myself with varying degrees of success! When I can afford it I use professionals for my look books as it's great fun to collaborate. I worked with photographer Kristy Noble and stylist Olivia Bennett on the look book for the Spline collection, and they produced really gorgeous shots. I'm launching a new mini-collection soon and this time I'm working with Susan Castillo. She has interpreted my brief in a really interesting way and I can't wait to see what comes out of our work together.
Lastly please pick a favourite product from the shop!
easy (if you let me have two)!
Beautiful and comforting - It's Okay Scarf by Need To Feel
Beautiful and practical - Atelier Cleo Folded Envelope Purse with Gold Foil