Creativity Found: finding creativity later in life

Ruth Chipperfield – science, silver and staying awake

April 02, 2023 Claire Waite Brown/Ruth Chipperfield Episode 70
Creativity Found: finding creativity later in life
Ruth Chipperfield – science, silver and staying awake
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers
'I was unaware that it wasn't normal to fall asleep when you're sat still.'
Ruth Chipperfield, a goldsmith and jewellery designer, had always experienced excessive tiredness, but didn’t think anything more of it until a chat with a friend at uni revealed to her that not everyone struggled to stay awake at their desk in the same way she did.
With the advice of her great uncle in Australia – where the condition was more recognised – Ruth was diagnosed with narcolepsy, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain’s ability to regulate the sleep-wake cycle: when wanting to sleep a sufferer can wake up every second, and when awake they will want to sleep.
At its worst for Ruth this meant collapsing up to 30 times a day, and needing constant care from her husband and mum.
Ruth took time out from studying chemistry at university to apply for funding for the medication she needed to improve her life – with the help of her mother – and then to get used to it and the fundamental physiological and emotional effects that had on her.
During those three years Ruth was able to visit antique fairs – always accompanied, for obvious reasons – where she was inspired to take her childhood love of junk modelling to new heights, and taught herself to work with precious metals and gems, as well as how to solder, make moulds, cast metal, and more, to create her own jewellery designs.
Ruth was determined to return to uni, and completed her chemistry degree and Masters, which she is rightly very proud of, even though she had already decided that jewellery designing was the field she wanted to pursue.

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Researched, edited and produced by Claire Waite Brown
Music: Day Trips by Ketsa Undercover / Ketsa Creative Commons License Free Music Archive - Ketsa - Day Trips
Artworks: Emily Portnoi emilyportnoi.co.uk
Photo: Ella Pallet

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Claire Waite Brown:

For this episode, I'm speaking with Ruth Chipperfield, who has a degree and master's in chemistry, and designed and repurposed his jewellery based on the owners memories, stories and style achievements made all more impressive, since at one point in her life, Ruth would find herself collapsing up to 30 times a day. Hi, Ruth, how are you?

Unknown:

I'm very well, nice to be here.

Claire Waite Brown:

Good, lovely to have you. Please start by telling me how you express yourself creatively.

Unknown:

So I'm a goldsmith and jewellery designer. And basically, I play with toys. The toys have just got progressively more expensive over the years. So I absolutely love anything sculptural. I think in three dimensions, I love miniature. So that's very much expressed in my jewellery in creating three dimensional shapes. I sort of see them as miniature sculptures, I guess. So yeah,

Claire Waite Brown:

super. We will find out more about that. Let's start at the beginning. Did you have a creative childhood at home or in education.

Unknown:

So I was always really creative. As a child, I wouldn't say I grew up in a particularly creative family, it was much more of an academic family. But my mom's a very practical person. So she always encouraged it just by saving all the yoghurt pots and the foil chocolate wrappers and all sorts of things. So junk modelling was a thing that I did from a very young age. And it sort of gradually grew from there in various different forms. But it was always something three dimensional. And it was always just fun for me really, because I never originally plan to pursue anything like that as a career, I was going down the academic path. So yeah, I think a lot of how I've developed creatively is probably down to my mum just encouraging me to play.

Claire Waite Brown:

I love the yoghurt pots. So you mentioned being academic and I know you have a scientific background. So tell me more about that.

Unknown:

So I have a past life in the world of chemistry, which is not quite as far fetched from jewellery as you might think. So I did chemistry at Warwick University. It took me seven years to complete a four year degree and master's course so had some time out in the middle where it wasn't well and it really comes back to I love sculpture and chemistry is basically just molecules in three dimensional space. Ace, I just love how things work finding out how things work. So how does one molecule react with another to create something else? That's something that's always fascinated me. And that's how I ended up doing chemistry. And I've always loved merging disciplines as well. So something that fascinated me is just all the chemistry in the world around us. So what's the chemical reaction of glue, for example. And so I did chemistry at university. And I did also, as part of my master's year do research into environmental sustainability, which means that a lot of the greenwashing just doesn't get past me. And you refuse to use it in my marketing as well. But in my master's thesis, then I looked at, I basically looked at silver nanoparticles, so silver on a teeny, teeny tiny scale, which has got loads of properties, antibacterial, etc.

Claire Waite Brown:

Yeah. And we're going to talk more I know, because I've chatted to you in the past about those connections that do come about between jewellery and science and chemistry that you might not think instantly are as connected as they are. But let's also go back to taking time out of university, you were diagnosed with narcolepsy while at university, can you explain first, what that actually means, please,

Unknown:

to narcolepsy is an autoimmune disease. So basically, your brain no longer creates a particular hormone that regulates the sleep wake cycle, metabolism, and all sorts of different things. And the way it manifests is a normal person's at work or be asleep at night and then awake during the day, broadly speaking, where somebody with narcolepsy, then one wanting to sleep, they'll constantly be waking up. And that can be sort of every few seconds every sub second, even when they're awake. They're constantly falling asleep. So the way to treat that is essentially stimulants on the one hand, or sometimes both to anyway, we'll cut that out.

Claire Waite Brown:

Don't worry.

Unknown:

A bit worse and the way to treat it and then,

Claire Waite Brown:

okay, let's leave that out. We'll come back to that. Presumably, you weren't falling asleep all the time at school? How did your symptoms come about? And how did it come to be diagnosed? When you were partway through your university degree,

Unknown:

so I'd always always been really tired, didn't need a bed time from age about eight. I just went to bed one I knew I needed to, I was unaware that it wasn't normal to fall asleep. When you're sat still, I just thought it was normal. It wasn't till my first year of uni, where one of my friends remarked, who'd sort of been on a full on night owl night before, probably only got an hour's sleep and not lecture, I actually thought it was genuine, you're gonna fall asleep. And I didn't say anything. I just thought hang on. Isn't that normal that when you sit still, which is really hard to stay away. It just hadn't really occurred to me. And I'd sort of fallen asleep, kind of in school and six forms and mock exam and I sort of vaguely mentioned in my main exams to the examiners that oh, yeah, I fall asleep, can you wake me but sort of the doctors always brushed it aside, and it wasn't really something that was ever looked at. And it wasn't until it got to the point in my second year where I was literally, I could not sit still for more than 30 seconds, or even sit down for more than 30 seconds without interacting, talking messing about something like that, where I would fall asleep. I mean, my friend used to jump me in the side with his elbow, and fall asleep three times whilst trying to write the same word, I'd fall asleep mid word, and then he'd sort of jab me I'd wake up and try and write it again. And I mean, my notes are a complete mess. I'm trying to write something to do with carbon monoxide, and I'm drawing Greek lambda symbols, and it's a complete mess. So sort of the first half relient my second year, I remember absolutely nothing. I mean, we had up to seven hours, lectures a day, and then two days labs, and I went to every single one and literally didn't remember a single thing. Yeah, because it taught myself for a lot of my second year.

Claire Waite Brown:

Yeah. And this hadn't been noticed in other people. I mean, I know you said you didn't realise it was odd to feel this way. Did other people around you notice it in you and think?

Unknown:

Yeah, we didn't initially sort of it would be funny, it would be a joke or whatever. But sort of, I mean, Am I wrong at times when it's funny, but when you're feeling so rough and trying so hard, and people think it's a little bit funny, and your whole life's probably less funny. My so my great uncle in Australia, he's passed away. Now he lived to 100 or 101. He was a doctor. And yet she helped found the Australian equivalent of the NHS, I think it's called Medicare. And my granny happened to sort of mentioned to him when I was in sixth form about falling asleep. And in Australia, they know an awful lot more about narcolepsy. And he sort of mentioned it. And anyway, when I started to sort of really feel it falling asleep all of the time, then my mum sort of started Googling, and the GP didn't want to know. So went private, and got diagnosed that way, and filtered back into the NHS for the tests, etc.

Claire Waite Brown:

and at what time was that? Did you then have to leave university after diagnosis had you got so will pre diagnosis that that was when you left? How did that all timeline. So

Unknown:

in the first term of my second year, so by the end of the first term, I started on medication stimulants. So that meant that I could sort of pick up and the latter half. And thankfully, my lab work was still decent, because I was on my feet, I was, I wasn't sat still, so that was fine. And that was before another symptom called cataplexy kicked in, where you just collapse and use muscle tone. And all of that, which we'll get onto in a minute, I was advised to retake the year, I didn't want to, and I'm so glad I didn't, because I would have never finished my degree. And that's something I'm really proud of that I actually stuck with it and finished it or B, it took seven years instead of four. But I think I developed a lot as a person. And yeah, so I've lost my train of thought you'll probably want to cut that bit. But sorry, you're gonna have to deal with me.

Claire Waite Brown:

No, no, you're being very illustrative of what you're talking about, though, aren't you?

Unknown:

I do need to cut down that. No, no.

Claire Waite Brown:

No at all. So right now, for example, if you don't mind me asking this now, Rose. If you'd had to take stimulants to be able to talk to me for a prolonged period.

Unknown:

Yes. In fact, I've been while I've been speaking, I'm thinking I need to take my next tablets. I'm actually going to do that right now.

Claire Waite Brown:

Do that right now. Does that make you? I guess it's trying to even out but do you think it makes you overstimulated as well? Or slightly? Or does it get you to a normal level do you find

Unknown:

overstimulated in some ways and under stimulated and others, so I still struggle with concentration? Focus, it's probably why I like to flip between lots of different tasks all of the time, which, in some ways can make me really creative. But it also means that sometimes finishing projects is more challenging, but often, then it can just make me really jittery. So there's a limit to how much I will take a try and take as minimum as I can get away with also because the more I take long term, the more you need. And yeah, if I'm just really jittery, I'll still feel really rough and really tired or just be jittery. So if I'm feeling like that, then actually is better to try and sleep it off. I didn't wake up refreshed, like other people might. But

Claire Waite Brown:

yeah, help. Yeah. So you mentioned and I can't remember what you'd call it, but something like catatonic that things got worst about that element of this illness.

Unknown:

Yeah, so it was in my third year, I developed the other symptom of narcolepsy. cataplexy is basically a sleep paralysis. People have it at night, it's you Don't lash out and kick and punch your partner, ideally, but it will just come on at random points and sort of off No, kind of No, it's calming, but other times, then it would just sort of suddenly hit me when I was at my worst. So I was collapsing 30 plus times a day got to the point where I couldn't leave the house on my own. Because also people didn't understand what it was It literally looked like I was being absolutely drama queen. There's someone who's just suddenly collapsed on the floor, often kind of conveniently, in a sort of decent position. Like I just managed to avoid hitting myself on things most of the time out of the hundreds of times I collapsed, I only hit myself on something twice. So it looks like someone's being a drama queen, because then my eyes would be flickering, and it just looks like you know, just want a bit of attention. And on one occasion, the paramedics were called and they thought exactly that. But the problem is it's emotion triggered so then when they say Wake up, we were going to put a needle into you trying to shock me into stopping being a drama queen, then, I mean, that's all my muscle paralysis full on locked for the next hour or whatever it is. So there. And it's quite funny story in a sense because I was carted off to a&e and then they had heat rash where my body keeps my vital organs warm my limbs, less important. And then they stripped me naked all the while I didn't know that I could hear absolutely everything because that's the other thing I'm fully conscious of just can't move. And then at the time, and this is going back to sort of 2011 pre me to movement. But then there's one of the male staff making snarky comments or maybe she's allergic to the blanket Oh, isn't that funny? And I was confident in my body. I didn't feel particularly threatened. It was a silly comment. And I sort of gave them medics as a poor student medic, who was there when I finally was able to move after they left me alone for a little while. Go right mouthful. And but yeah, that's cataplexy. In a nutshell.

Claire Waite Brown:

Yeah. Goodness, may oh, gosh, that must be kind of scary. And then for you to be so alive in the head, to know that everything's going on that other people don't think you can know that everything's going on.

Unknown:

Well, I was trying to figure it out myself at that point. And the Met poor medics bless them, they've not come across it, they were there looking it up on Wikipedia on their phones. I mean, they hadn't read far enough to realise that I could hear everything. But it's something that people just just don't know about. But tell you what, the one thing we're actually it was really helpful is it was something that people could see. So finally, a lot of people took me seriously because they could see that there was something that was was up because I'd been asking for Nap Room at uni for awhile, and it just wasn't really happening. And then the Royal Society of Chemistry was visiting and I went to the stand and then collapse right in front of them and then napped in the secretary's office, and things got moving after that. So it's something that people can see. Because that's how we're wired as humans is the classic Oh, you don't look like there's anything wrong with you. That can be deceptive for so many people.

Claire Waite Brown:

When people park in the disabled by a supermarket and then other people get crossed, because those people don't look like they're disabled. But

Unknown:

I'd always feel really embarrassed on the bus when I didn't offer my seat to someone elderly or something. I'd be there sort of try and sit somewhere not near the front, just so that I wouldn't sort of feel oh, yeah, shouldn't be sitting here or,

Claire Waite Brown:

yeah, you're young and you look perfectly normal. And you probably look like an arrogant young person getting up from your seat. Listen to they know that you will collapse on them if you did. So you took the time out from uni, you got a diagnosis, you've mentioned about stimulants and balancing the drugs tell me a bit about that.

Unknown:

Timeout wasn't actually for the diagnosis. So I have the diagnosis. By that point, my second year. However, I took time out because I needed a different medication, which is basically the date rape drug knocks you out at nights you're awake during the day horrific drug, somehow imagine doing it without now. And my health is roughly sort of how it was kind of well not free cataplexy, because I still sort of get it but not sort of full on collapsing like that would be really rare that that would happen. So yeah, I was applying for funding for this drug and my mum glasses for about six months, it was her part time job doing all the paperwork, the application, the appeal, the sifting through No, and freedom of information, act on the decision process and all of these things until I finally got it. But the problem with that, then is that what sleep does, you've kind of got the deep sleep recharges the body. Obviously, I had none of that for about 20 years. And the REM sleep or the dream sleep recharges the mind. So I'd had loads of that. I mean, it probably helps with creativity. But then when you suddenly switch to just the deep sleep in your mind left to fend for itself when all of a sudden your whole life is changing. You expect to suddenly function as an adult again, when you haven't for a couple of years. Really I was completely reliant on my husband for most things. Then your brain kind of goes crazy. That was the next stage really. I thought this drug would be my happily ever after and it didn't quite pan out that way.

Claire Waite Brown:

How does that relate to the time that you were taking time out?

Unknown:

So I had three years out while I was applying for this drug and then basically getting used to it.

Claire Waite Brown:

Right? I see. And while you were going through this process, what are you able to do? So I believe that you are able to dabble with your jewellery at this time. Is that correct?

Unknown:

Yeah. So I'd obviously like I mentioned before, I'd always done junk modelling and all sorts of things, made things out of other things, repurposed, that kind of thing. So I'd been sort of making bits of jewellery, just from things I found around, I really enjoyed looking at odd vintage pieces. So I'd essentially learn by taking things apart, putting them back together, making other things out of them. So I'd go around teak fairs, obviously, always with someone because I'd collapse on various occasions whilst getting around. And I'd buy the all these often broken jewellery pieces, make new things out of them. And gradually, people started buying things. And it was soon sort of after that, then I realised, well, there's really something here, this is something that I can really turn into a business. And I thought, well, unless I do mass production, which obviously I didn't want to do, then you've got to work with things that are higher and materials, so precious metals. So I taught myself to work with silver, then I learned to make lace, I was at one of these antique fairs. And my mum pointed to this gadget for making lace and said are by that you're enjoy it. So I got it for a couple of quid, taught myself to do it on YouTube, and about five minutes, it was a sort of stitching II thing. And you could make it up as you went along, which I really like, I don't like working with other people's patterns. And then I thought, well hang on a minute, it's possible to make moulds around things and then cast in metal. So I could make a mould around this, right. I mean, it's not easy to do, there are various other steps you have to go through. But I developed this and got a casting company to cast it. And I made all of these essentially lists, stitch models in silver, having no idea how to work silver. So then I had to get all this kit and learn that actually, you can't just fix things with little jump rings, you have to actually sold her because you're creating higher end pieces. And then you have to pick on acid and all the polishing. I mean, there's so much to learn around polishing, I'm always learning just on that topic. And then the next step, you're you're creating mounts for stone setting and the sort of gradually, I think my inspiration grew wider. And my aspiration in terms of what designs I'd like to create grow. So then I had to upskill and that's a journey I'm still on today.

Claire Waite Brown:

Do you think your whole being feels physically as well as emotionally and mentally better when you're doing rather than learning to do to be actually physically doing things? Yeah,

Unknown:

so actually approach learning and doing quite differently. It's almost like I've got the sort of academic side and then the doing side, I never enjoyed labs did not enjoy labs. So then when I was banned from the lab for being unsafe, I wasn't particularly sad. And I'm incredibly grateful for that timeout, which means I'm not stuck in a career making a white powder from a white powder from another white powder for more white liquid. Nothing against white powder. I've just taken a tablet of white powder, compressed white. But yeah, I've sort of approach those two quite differently, in a sense. So the way I do is with absolutely nothing to guide me whatsoever. dentally, it's a case of right I want to do this, this is the pathway I think I need. I'm going to try it and when it goes wrong, I'm going to then figure out how to do it and if I can't do that, then I'll maybe ask someone I mean it drives my husband nuts because sort of around the house. Or many just do this in my studio because that's sort of my space. I've got my studio at the front of the house but sort of when it comes to say drilling holes for shelf in the wall when I'm trying stuff how I'm not very accurate, so I'll just drill in them realise it's a little bit wonky Never mind where's he's the precision man the tidy man, I'm messy. I've got stuff everywhere. For this call just inspire me creatively. I've got two boxes of a heck of a lot of gemstones next to me just sort of got something pretty to look at the process.

Claire Waite Brown:

Oh, amazing. Oh, I love that. We should all have some gemstones to look at when we're doing things.

Unknown:

Yeah, I have to remind myself that I am a designer creator, I'm not a I'm not a collector. Collector,

Claire Waite Brown:

they are there for a reason. Something else. So why I'm gonna ask it very bluntly, you've already said, you're very glad you did. Why did you go back to university to complete your chemistry studies? And did you have expectations of what you wanted those completed degrees to lead to?

Unknown:

Yes. So the reason I went back was, I think I'd always assumed I would do a degree. I remember once that a level on my chemistry class, my teachers, you'll be a candidate to do a PhD. And I always sort of saw myself as someone like that who's going to be researching discovering new things. When I was little than I wanted to be an inventor. And in a way, I still do. And so I just couldn't ever picture myself not doing a degree. So I took the maximum out I could, which was three years, but equally, I very much knew that after my degree, I want to be doing my jewellery business. So I was constantly looking at my degree through that lens of what can I apply to my business and the creative industry? What am I learning that could be applied in a different way, it sort of gives you a little bit of freedom and a little bit more inspiration, I guess, to do what you're doing. And I didn't have an easy time with accent undiagnosed, post traumatic stress disorder. And I mean, it's quite hard to concentrate on learning when you've got that. But then, of course, I was like, Oh, can't do the lab work. So I message the supervisor, who was sort of in the engineering commercially, department at work University called Work manufacturing group. So I emailed him saying, so we need to chat about a risk assessment for the lab, this could potentially be a bit tricky, if you've got any other projects I could work on. And I think you just have this sense of, I've got nothing to lose, I'm just gonna ask that kind of thing. He then gave me a project that was sort of lined up. So then I emailed him saying, Can I do my master's project in your department to before I'd even done the internship, have you got any projects that I could do? Unbeknownst to me, he was at a conference with the person who organised all of the master's projects in chemistry. And it was this guy who was holding his phone and saw the email notification. So he looked at it saying Ruth Chipperfield, she's chemistry, right, like I know, is a big part, people knew me because it was a first part and needed special treatment for absolutely everything. And so he was there and knew me. So they went, had a chat about it, unbeknownst to me. And I was able to sort of pick a project, and I worked on the silver nanoparticles and the environmental impact, which is great, because you can apply that to making anything. So that was fab.

Claire Waite Brown:

Yeah, so that worked out really well. And you were in the right place at the right time.

Unknown:

So yeah, cuz I mean, I had a conversation with some of the people in chemistry and they said, Well, if you want to do your fourth year, which was you could just graduate off to three, which would have been fine. Then all you have to do theoretical chemistry. Now, theoretical Computational Chemistry, is calculating the energies of water particles most of the time. I need to say no more. If that's my only option, I won't do a fourth year.

Claire Waite Brown:

Yeah, yeah. It's fascinating for some people, possibly. Yes. You've touched there on sustainability and recycling. And I know that this is a big part of the work that you do. Now.

Unknown:

Whenever I look at any material, I always think what can I make with that? I mean, people also often they have these really sentimental pieces that have so many memories and stories, but yet, they just sit in a box, because they're not really their styles. So they didn't know what to do with them. And when my customers are talking to me about how maybe they've been into jewellers in the past, but the question always comes back to what do you want? And if they're not sure about that, then often, they sort of hit a bit of a brick wall. Whereas I take more of a kind of scattergun approach, I suppose. And so I look at two things. And initially, I look at them very, very separately, and then I bring them together. So the two things I look at are, what are the memories? Tell me about your grandma who used to own that ring or your mother? Well, I'm working on a piece at the moment where my lovely client she's her mother died when she was quite left Till, but she had a really close relationship with her stepmom. And so I'm actually I've melted together her mom, her stepmom, and her dad's rings, and I'm making rings all in one, but also to go with another ring that she already has. So we're making them so that they can stack all together. Because I said, if I do one ring with all of this, it's going to be too fussy for you. So I look at the customer, and what they would wear, also the memories, and that sort of thing before I look at the how, because often people say I don't know how you do it, I've got this, and I've got these ideas. And often they're very, very separate. And I don't worry about the how I can figure out the hat or that's what I do. I love bringing different ideas and different things together from different disciplines. So if I've got an essence of the memories, and what should this piece represent? And then I look at, okay, well, what would you Where would you like something that's worn every day? Or do you want something that is more of an occasional thing, and with this particular one that I'm doing then sort of both because it's going to be stacking, so you can wear the whole stack. And then it's almost like a big cocktail ring. But equally, you can wear the rings individually. Sometimes people just, they just want the gemstones to be reused. And then that gives different options in terms of the gold, there's so much you can do. And I also just love recycling gemstones, it's something that's only now really starting to become a thing in the industry. And that's partly because gemstones do scratch. So do we think of them as being hard materials on metals as hard materials. But ultimately, often they need re polishing, they need formal identification via lab work. So that's where my geeky chemistry slide comes in. And all the crystal structure and the elements and blah, blah, blah. I just love talking about, you're really sort of just love guiding people through it. And it makes me happy.

Claire Waite Brown:

I love that you do and I love that it's more it is as much about the stories and about the people than the actual item. I also I can see the parallels for you with the research. So when you were interested, not maybe into research into the water molecules, but the kind of research you do into the materials, you get the strains of your story come together. Really, you can see how they complement each other. Yeah. How do you manage from a self confidence but also a physical point of view, with actually the stuff you love the making the taking apart the putting back together the talking to people with the I do have to make money out of this. And I do have to go and find commissions and you know, make this work? from a business point of view? How do you find the two of those fit together? And how do you manage them?

Unknown:

I think the more I focused on the customer, and really just enjoyed customer stories, the easier it's become. And it started several years ago, I did a commission and the resulting ratings were really good. But the process I was in quite a stress period of my life didn't make the customer feel particularly special. I just made a lot of mistakes and how I dealt with it. I said I'd do this story card with pictures from the before, during and after I completely forgot about it didn't have any pictures of the original, she was quite upset, but absolutely lovely lady, so she sort of sent me a message. And I could tell that it was just her emotion. She didn't think that of me personally. So that obviously makes it a lot easier. So at the time, I sort of replied saying, really sorry. You're absolutely right. I've completely messed up Do you mind if I just take a couple of days to think about how I can best make it right. And I thought well, my husband's a professional illustrator. So I got him to draw the original pendant. Thankfully, I did have some process shots. So that was good. And sort of we did it from there. And when I saw her, sort of framed these story prints, so she was really happy gave me a massive heart. She's recommended me ever since. And it was from that point that the story started. And that's where I really learned how important stories I do a lot of business networking, which is really helpful on a personal development front when you find the right groups and build those relationships. But she would then say Ah, so Ruth did this. I had this pendant and then didn't know what to do with it. And then people tell I've got a piece of jewellery, I don't know what to do with and then they'd asked me about it. And I think once you start seeing those stories develop, it really, really helps. And then another thing I started doing is taking on repairs. And a lot of designers don't do repairs and with jewellery, the so many things that can go wrong, or have to have disclaimers in place. But it's really about communication. And I think the more I've improved it ability to communicate, the better it's become because when you're repairing a piece of jewellery that's really sentimental to someone where they've been into a traditional jewellers, for example, and they've had an incredible skilled Goldsmith, often men, because it's a male dominated industry, but it's not worth repairing. And that's like the only thing they've got that reminds them of their late mother. They just feel crushed. And actually just asked them, so what's your favourite memory of your mom? That it's about for them the journey of having it repaired as well as it actually being repaired? So yeah, I mean, I'm designing a new collection at the moment, around birthstones, I want to do it. So people can sort of mix and match a little bit in terms of different components sort of build their own engagement rings. I mean, this is sort of more than one collection, I haven't quite figured it out. When you've got customers and their story in them as a person to inspire. It's so much easier than when I've just got a couple of boxes of gemstones that I've gradually acquired. And I actually need to do something with them. But that will help sort of in terms of I'll have other avenues, because at the moment, I've sort of relied on the bespoke and very much word of mouth and repairs a sort of been a bit of a sales funnel, except that I've got paid for it rather than paying for the marketing.

Claire Waite Brown:

Yeah, you're doing some designing, you're doing some experimenting. What are your aspirations for the future?

Unknown:

I would love at some point in the future to have a retails obviously completely changing. And sort of when they will say, Would you like a shop, I can't think boring. So I mean, awesome, gorgeous shops out there, obviously. But I've always, as a kid loved the concept of a museum, I had my own little so called museum under my desk in my bedroom when I was in primary school. And I just put old things in there that I thought were museum worthy and and then tried to charge my friend to look at it, even though it wasn't covered. So they could look at it regardless. But I've always just loved that idea of sort of curiosities, kind of imagine it as sort of a yes, a shot, but also a kind of museum of just inspiration. It could be how things are made, origins of things, it could be old tools, level tools,

Claire Waite Brown:

really level tools.

Unknown:

Another random thing I collect is old tools. Just a real kind of mix, museum sharp obviously workshop, in way be great if people can see myself and employees and whenever working. But then at the same time, sometimes you don't want to be watched. So I haven't quite figured that one out yet. So it's an idea that sort of developing I guess,

Claire Waite Brown:

it sounds super, I would love to visit and as you know, at creativity found we have lots of people that do workshops, and we love to share how people can get creative, but I think when and I want to share inspiration as well. So where our members, you know, have exhibitions and stuff, or I like to go out with our members to exhibitions, generally, or anything that can be a bit inspiring. But I think in a space like that, you could have workshops around what it is that you've got in the space, you know, around some of the tools or Yeah, I think

Unknown:

I always sort of picture it as a kind of an I don't like to categorise creativity is like high end and low end, because I just think that's been pretentious. And I'd need to be shot if I said that. And I just have said it. But where there's one way it's kind of it's much more sort of play and doing and sort of that could almost be kind of one, but then it's sort of a journey. And then you have got the higher end stuff that the people that dislike to play, and maybe they can never afford the sort of higher end stuff, but they can still engage with it a little bit. Because often those people are really good advocates. But then you do also have sort of an you need it to make money obviously as well, that kind of exclusive side of things. But I don't want it to be in a stuffy way.

Claire Waite Brown:

It can be it just takes the thoughts swimming around and the concepts swimming around until you hit on a way that you can make it work.

Unknown:

Yeah. Well, it sounds to me like you've already got loads of ideas around that space. So maybe we need another chat around the

Claire Waite Brown:

idea. Absolutely. We will continue chatting. I'm intrigued about the stones. Tell me more about the birthstones projects that you mentioned.

Unknown:

So birthstones are obviously quite a sort of story based thing. And I think When it comes to costume jewellery, people like to have lots of pieces that they maybe wear so that they match their outfit and kind of, it's almost like you wear that for other people to kind of not notice. But obviously people do notice and make nice comments. And that's great. I think, when it comes to Fine Jewellery, you're really wearing it for yourself and the meaning. And obviously, you do get those comments, but I think there's that other dimension to it. And I love the shape of rough gemstones, how they're formed in nature. I mean, I've got shed loads of rough tourmaline. I love tourmalines because they just come in so many different colours. Same with sapphires, they come in every colour apart from red bricks, and they're classed as Ruby, but it's the same stone. And so I'm really looking to kind of work with those and create all these different settings where you can then build your own ring or earrings or necklace with the birthstone but you can also add them together. So you can have a piece that represents two of your children for example, or it could be your own boss don't.

Claire Waite Brown:

So is this a kind of modular concept then yeah,

Unknown:

with the wedding and engagement rings then I wouldn't be using rough gemstones. I think with wedding and engagement rings, you need something that's a bit more classic bit more timeless that the same with my other collection, I'll be creating the gemstone mounts and settings in that by some hand stitching the model and then casting it so you get really cool sculptural textures. So be the same for the wedding and engagement rings as well but in a much more classic way. You can again sort of choose the band, choose the stone choose the setting, choose the side stones, and it's gonna be really cool. I'm very very excited but I've got a lot of work to do.

Claire Waite Brown:

It sounds absolutely beautiful. If people would like to see some of this because we've been hearing about it and it sounds just sumptuous, but to see it and to connect with you how can people do that?

Unknown:

So I'm all across the social media platform so if people search Ruth Mary jewellery, then they will find me Ruth Mary ma RT why sometimes people think Mary and I obviously don't say it very well. So yeah, search Ruth Mary jewellery. And my full name is Ruth Mary Chipperfield if people aren't on LinkedIn or whatever and want to find me, but my DMs always open if people have any jewellery related questions, be it commission based or repairs or do they need evaluation anything like that, then I'm always happy to help because it means I get to speak to more people and look at more shiny things. Because if I don't do that enough.

Claire Waite Brown:

Perfect, thank you so much for talking with me today, Ruth, I've had a really lovely time.

Unknown:

Thanks for having me.

Claire Waite Brown:

Thanks so much for listening to creativity found. If your podcast app has the facility, please leave a rating and review to help other people find us on Instagram and Facebook follow at creativity found podcast and on Pinterest look for at creativity found. And finally, don't forget to check out creativity found.co.uk The website connecting adults who wants to find a creative outlet with the artists and crafters you can help them tap into their creativity.

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