Beadmaker Interview, Emma Ralph

Calabeads by Emma Ralph: A set of tri-tone earthenware beads, inspired by lilies.

1.What is your personal name, business name, website and location?

Emma Ralph, EJR Beads, http://www.ejrbeads.co.uk/ and I am based in the North Surrey Hills in England, just south of London.

2. What kind of beads do you make? What kinds of processes do you use? What is your favorite beadmaking technique?

I make beads using a variety of methods and materials. Mostly I focus on lampwork glass and polymer clay beads, creating matched sets that have proven popular with designers and collectors both in the UK and abroad. I also like to dabble in ceramic and metal clays too. For me it is all about the beads really – I don’t mind what material I use, just so long as I get to make beads each day!
Nouveau: Lampwork glass beads from my Graphical Tabs series

3. How did you get into beadmaking? What are some of the important things you do for your business?

I have been into beads since I was young. I bought my first set of beads from a toy catalogue at age 5 and enjoyed beads on and off throughout my childhood. When I was around 12, I started to get more seriously into beads, jewellery design and beadmaking. I discovered the remarkable Fimo as well, so my passion for polymer clay started young. The rest, as they say, is history. I just never seemed to grow out of that particular childhood phase!

I think the most important thing I do for my business is simply to stay passionate about it. I love everything about what I do, from making my Art beads through to selling them and see what my customers create with them. No part of the process is a chore. I spend pretty much every waking moment working on my business, so it’s just as well I keep feeling that passion really!

4. What is your workspace like and how do you work in your studio? What is a typical day like?

Oh I wish you hadn’t asked that. My workspaces are all best described as “ordered chaos”. Usually anywhere I work looks like a tornado has swept through it, but it doesn’t stop me creating and I always know where everything is. I do wonder sometimes why I don’t just stop and tidy up once in a while instead of trying to work in a 4 inch space carved into the desk’s ever-present debris!

A typical day starts with me turning on my computer and checking for any orders, customer emails etc. I will then pack orders and attend to any business admin until mid-morning. Hopefully by then, I am able to get on with making some beads then.

Some days are simply too hectic to find the time to make beads though. I might instead need to spend all day attending to paperwork or be cleaning and photographing beads, listing them for sale in my online store and so on.

Some of my best selling polymer clay art beads – my Clarice series, inspired by the colourful tableware by Clarice Cliff.

5. How do you stay inspired and motivated?

I don’t often have a problem with inspiration or motivation. I think it helps that I work in so many mediums, so I can always pick and chose from any number of projects I have on the go, which suits my Gemini temperament. If it is one of the days where inspiration really won’t come, then I just turn to the business side of things. There is always a mountain of paperwork to go through when you are self-employed.

6. What type of beads and jewelry designs do you feel best compliment your art beads? Do you design your own jewelry too?

If I have learned anything from my customers, it is that there are no rules when it comes to designing with art beads.

I have seen designers take many diverse routes when working with my art beads – going down creative paths I never would have thought of. I think if the designer has a real passion for the particular set of beads they are using then that shines through in their finished design. So maybe the designs that best compliment my beads are simply those coming from designers as obsessed and in love with beads as I am!

I do still design jewellery myself from time to time, but my customers are so much better at it! They really know how to bring out the best in my beads, so I tend to leave the jewellery design in their capable hands.

Colourleaves: Earthenware stylized leaf pendants.

7. What beady plans do you have for the future? Do you have new designs or ideas you will be exploring soon?

My immediate plan is to keep doing more of the same, because I love how my life is right now. I always have new designs to explore and the only trouble is finding the time to get everything done. Longer term, I want to streamline the business side of things a little and take on a helper so I can free up more time for beadmaking and spend a less time on admin.

8. If you have a discount code you would like to give our readers, please list it here, including the expiration date:

No discount coupon, but if any readers mention this website in the comments section of their order, I will make sure an extra little something is added to their packet!

(all beads handmade by Emma Ralph, images all © E. Ralph, 2007)

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1 Comment

  1. Jean
    July 12, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    what a great interview, Emma!

Comments are closed.