11 June 2012
Red Queen Boutique Interview
Since the spring, the Red Queen Boutique has been making a name for itself, with creator Helen at the helm. With a BA Honours in Design and Visual Art and speciality in contemporary textiles and surface pattern, Helen is a dab hand at creating unusual and original pieces of jewellery.
All of Helen's creations are lovingly hand-made using found or vintage items mixed with newer finds and materials, resulting in a range that varies from elegant gothic pieces, to cute kitsch items (sometimes rendered from toys), to beautifully unique vintage pieces. Helen says "The Red Queen strives to promote individuality" and, be it necklaces, bracelets, brooches, earrings or handbag charms (and even Captain Jack Sparrow-inspired costume jewellery!), the chances are that the Red Queen has something that you want.
Blackavar caught up with Helen to learn more about the Red Queen Boutique and its products:
Your qualifications indicate a creative personality and talent - was the Red Queen something you planned for some time, and how did you come to open the boutique?
I began studying for an art and design degree in 2004. Prior to this I gained a GNVQ in art and design and an art diploma. I specialised in contemporary textiles and surface pattern for the degree. During the 2nd year of the degree my father developed lung cancer and passed away. I became very interested in the Victorian era, particularly mourning jewellery and clothing. It seemed logical to use this subject matter for my studies as it was relevant to what was happening in my life. Through researching everything Victorian I became aware of the Gothic Lolita culture and the alternative scene.
After graduating I wanted a career where I could combine my interests and creative talents along with being a full-time Mum. Making jewellery seemed to fit in well with my other obligations and was something I enjoyed doing. After a year of producing jewellery I hadn't found a suitable outlet for any of it. I didn't want to mass produce anything, as the nature of my jewellery involves using vintage/discarded or found items. I like the idea of finding something which is past it's 'shelf-life' and turning it into something desirable once more.
The Red Queen Boutique is a progression of my ideas to date. I decided to open an eBay shop as I felt this would be the best way to reach people looking for alternative, handmade jewellery that isn't mass produced.
You told us that some of the items you use to create your products are 'found' or vintage. Where do you find these particular materials and what do you look for in these items?
I source items from eBay, charity shops, jumble sales, family heirlooms and sometimes things I've picked up in the street! I am a real hoarder, I save toys which my daughter has outgrown and just about anything that I feel has the potential to be recycled into a piece of jewellery.
You have many varied styles including Gothic/Alternative/Kitsch; where do you get your inspiration from?
I had a catholic up-bringing as a child. I was fascinated by all the decorative aspects in church and the ornate nature of rosary beads and medals from a young age. Many of my pieces feature beads and crucifixs from old rosaries which belonged to my Mum or Gran. Even though I no longer go to church or practice a religion, I undoubtedly continue to be influenced by relics from my childhood.
What are your favourite pieces/styles?
I really enjoy making rosary necklaces, I make them shorter than functional rosary beads so they are more practical for the wearer. I like to play around with the design, substituting a crucifix for a plectrum or beads for chains, the possibilities are endless!
What’s next for the Red Queen Boutique?
Keeping the eBay store well stocked and getting The Red Queen Boutique out and about at local craft fairs is on the agenda for this year. I am hoping to get a regular monthly stall at Stockport's handmade market very soon. Watch this space!