This week we feature Annabel Neilson of Tinkan Designs!
Annabel comes to us from the green and pleasant countryside of Herefordshire, which is a border county of Wales, in the UK.
Who is Tinkan Designs?
Tinkan Designs is about quality, unique, handmade designs in recycled materials. The name Tinkan Designs comes from the jewellery I make that inspired me to start the business, made from ring-pulls from tin cans, and also from a nickname I have- Tinkerbelle or Tink, and also ‘tinker’ means to work with metal, and is slang for a gypsy, which I am a bit! (Or at least I used to be!)
What’s the first thing you remember making?
I’ve made ‘things’ for as long as I can remember, in all sorts of materials. I learnt to knit at quite an early age I think, and most probably I made a scarf first. But the first things I can remember I made to sell were some stripy purses, and stripy socks that I took to Glastonbury festival, which sold out very quickly!
Where do you work?
I have a workshop where I have a forge, welder, and other ‘heavy’ metal working tools on one side, and ‘light’ jewellery making tools and materials on the other. I like to be able to work on a few things at one time, so its good to be able to flit from one side to the other! However it is an old, cold, stone, farm building, and in the winter I end up making a lot of jewellery from home. In the summer however its great with the doors open, and sun streaming in! All the other many farm buildings on this beautiful old farmstead are now used either industrially, or artistically, so there’s usually other people, and noise, about. I also work for 2 days a week on an organic fruit and veg farm, near to where I live. This is what brings in a regular income!
Why work with recycled materials?
Why use recycled materials? Its always been natural to me to re-use and recycle things from altering clothing to create a new outfit, to keeping plastic pots and packaging to be used for some other purpose. Some of its to do with saving money, and being thrifty, but its also ‘cos I just can’t throw things away, and I hate waste! Why buy new when you can still make use of the old? I enjoy the challenge of working out how to re-use things creatively, and so many so called mundane objects are actually really beautiful in their own right, and beautifully made- it’d be sacrilege to throw them away! Things like mechanical parts, cogs, bike chains, keys, plastic components, ring pulls even! Even polystyrene packaging comes in amazing different shapes (I used to collect this off the street and make them into frames for mirrors)..
What are your favourite tools?
My favourite tools have got to be my rivet gun (I just love rivets!), and stud machine, doming block and punches, and of course the hammer and anvil. I also have a very old, very heavy, flypress which gives 4tonnes of pressure with the swing of a handle, making bending metal so easy!
How do you get from A-Z?
Often the material or objects I find, or collect, dictate what I make. In the case of my ring-pull jewellery I collected loads before the ideas started flowing. I knew I wanted to do something with them, ’cos they are great little shapes, but wasn’t sure what or how. It was through trial and error that the jewellery has evolved and become refined into what it is now, and as with most things, it is still evolving. It amazes me how much potential these little objects (ring-pulls) on mass, have, I am so NOT bored of them yet as a medium, and I have loads of other ideas brewing for them! (no pun intended -as they are mostly from all the beer cans that my boyfriend, and other alcoholic friends drink!)
What music do you listen to while working?
I usually have the radio on while I’m working, or if I’m at home the telly is often on as background noise.