Interview with Jeweller and Ceramic Sculptor,  Bianca Edmonds of BinkArt

Nature, mythology, folk art, and narrative have influenced Bianca Edmonds work. Using a variety of techniques and mediums along with her appreciation of ceramics, organic forms in nature such as sea glass and pebbles, she creates the imaginative work we see here.

1. When, who or what inspired you to begin ceramics and making jewellery?

I discovered ceramic sculpture and throwing on the wheel in my senior year in high school (sixth form) and was immediately hooked.

My first experience with jewellery making was in the late 70s, when my dad, an amateur jeweller, would do lost-wax casting using his home-made vacuum casting machine. He would employ my help holding the torch on the molten silver and pouring it into the moulds. The process was dramatic and exciting and the seeds were sown.

2. Do you have a studio space you work from, tell us about it?

I feel very fortunate to have a studio. It's quite tiny, considering I work in mixed media- ceramics, metal work, and beading, with various other bits and bobs thrown in.

It's a space that shares the outer walls of our house and our neighbours' house, so my partner and I have decided that my activities are too noisy for that space, so a new shed is being built in our back garden to be my new studio. I'm very excited!

3. What medium, materials or techniques do you work with?

My main medium is ceramics. I've worked with clay since '78 and it's a material that I'm very comfortable with. I love its plasticity, and its versatility seems infinite. A vast array of results are possible with this one material.

I'm also obsessive about beach glass and beach combing, and can while away hours at it. Likewise, I love driftwood and beach pebbles, especially very smooth, sensual pieces. Rusted metal is another favourite.

Drilled beach pebble earrings and pendant

Above images: Drilled Beach pebble earrings with sterling silver and Friend pendant. The stones were gifts from two friends, who collected them from beaches in Greece, Italy, and France.

4. What is the main inspiration for your designs?

For some of my ceramics, the humorous side of animals, but also their spiritual side, as represented in Native American culture. Also, my Japanese mother taught me an appreciation of wabi sabi, or the beauty of impermanence and imperfection, as well as asymmetrical balance.

Nature, mythology, folk art, and narrative also have strong influences on my work.

5. Do you have any anecdotes about your work?

There was an open-to-all-artists exhibition of ceramic cups and saucers at a Shipston art gallery, whose brief was fairly wide-open. I wasn't really making anything like practical dish ware at the time, so as a completely tongue-in-cheek gesture, I made a large ceramic cat, eyes closed in a meditative state, with only the teensiest, tiny teacup & saucer on its head.

The sculpture sold, which was a happy enough result, but by public jury it was voted best cup & saucer in the show!

Sometimes it pays to be cheeky, was the moral of that experience.

Above image: Teacup Kitty head. Stoneware, porcelain, oxides.

6. Do you have a favourite piece you've made?

I tend to love the thing I'm working on currently. Once a piece is made, I usually want it to find its way to someone else who also loves it. That said, I still enjoy seeing the beautiful Indonesian beach pebbles that I put into my Heart Cairn pendant necklace. Those pebbles are some of Nature's treasures - so simple, graceful, and perfect.

Heart Cairn Pendant as featured in Lark Book's 500 Art necklaces

Above Image: Heart Cairn Pendant. This photo is published in Lark Book's 500 Art Necklaces

9. Do you have a favourite tool?

My favourite clay tool is a small wood one with a ball shape on one end and an elongated spade shape on the other. It's beautifully finished and smooth and also aesthetically pleasing, with a gentle 'S' curve.

When it comes to drilling, I love my little Proxxon jeweller's bench drill, which, combined with my superb Eternal Tools diamond drill bits (:-D), make drilling stones and glass relatively easy. (Stop it, you're making us blush)

Drilled sea glass and beach pebble, ceramic and opal pendants

Above images: 1) Mermaid. Hand sculpted porcelain, fired glass, sterling silver bale. 2) Beach pebble and autumn sea glass cairn. Drilled pebble, drilled sea glass, sterling silver wire spindle/bale. 3) Australian boulder opal in porcelain 'cocoon'. Sterling silver wire-wrapped boulder opal suspended in hand-sculpted porcelain.

7. What keeps you going whilst you work?

I love listening to You Tube videos while working ~ TED talks, audiobooks, Buddhist lectures, or to BBC's Desert Island Discs and other podcasts.

My cat 'Mitts' often keeps me company in the studio and has her own soft spot at the side of my beading bench, so we have little cuddle breaks.

Hot tea in my lovely travel mug and sea-salt chocolate never hurt...

Mitts the cat in the BinkArt studio

8. Do you have any advice for anyone looking to start their own craft business?

I'm not the best person to ask about being business-like, though I'm improving year on year. Do what turns you on, and for the business side, there is good, free advice to be found all over the internet.

Stay in touch with your professional community because your support network is invaluable.

Fellow artists and makers can really help with all manner of advice, resources and materials.

It helps to join or start a group of like-minded artists or makers to have meetings with and to exhibit with. Especially for women, having a group to encourage you and with whom to discuss issues (professional, technical and personal) is very important.

10. Tell us about where you sell your work and any upcoming exhibitions.

I'm a member of the Gallery at the Guild in Chipping Campden, UK. This is a beautiful artists' cooperative, where my jewellery is on sale year-round: We're currently having our annual Christmas exhibition and the theme is miniatures.

My Etsy shop features sculpture and jewellery: and I'll be exhibiting at Alice Shepherd's annual Christmas exhibition at Arts@Unit 13, in Ditchford Farm. This will feature the work of a range of artists and prices so it's a terrific place to go for unusual and handcrafted gifts. Open from 30th November through to 22nd December. This event will be announced on Alice's Facebook page.

11. What's next for BinkArt?

I want to devote more time to making sculpture and jewellery.

I still have a part-time job to supplement my income and will be cutting down my hours there, which will give me more time to make things in my studio, which I love.

My work naturally evolves over time, so I just let the process develop as it will, which allows for surprises and spontaneity... who knows what will come? That's part of the joy.

A big thanks to Bianca for the interview. It's been a pleasure. To see more of her work visit her Etsy page or visit The Gallery at The Guild in Chipping Campden, UK.