Handmade in Leyton – why British artist Lucie Ellen chose East London to work in
Have you heard the news? There’s a new breed of artist and designer in town using digital, mechanical and handcrafting methods on an artisan scale. Described as ‘making’ we caught up with Lucie Ellen, an East London maker putting Leyton on the map.
Can you explain what ‘making’ is?
For me, making is using my hands, tools and raw materials to create, in my case a piece of jewellery.
How did you become a maker?
I started making after leaving my graphic design degree with a need to do something with my hands, and away from a screen! Since I can remember I've always made things. I started making jewellery as a hobby until a friend suggested getting a market stall. That was ten years ago and things are still going strong, but I'm making very different things.
Can you explain the making process?
The main materials I use in my jewellery are wood and paper. I laminate paper onto plywood, and then use a fret saw to cut out the shapes, which are then finished with a sander and given a good coat of varnish to protect them. I use hand painting and collage to add layers of texture to the pieces, which often mean that they are unique.
You work out of your garden studio in the East End. Why here?
My wife and I moved to Leyton five years ago. We knew we wanted to live in East London and Leyton was affordable and easy for me to get back to Suffolk to see family. Working from home is brilliant, and working in the garden is even better - my cats seem to like the company when I'm out there! I like having a studio that's not in the house, it makes it easier to lock the door and walk away from work in the evenings, which is not always easy when you're self-employed.
How would you describe East London?
I wouldn't know where to start! I like Leyton a lot. It's one of the most diverse areas of London and that makes it a very interesting and exciting place to live. It's changed a lot in the five years that we've been here. We're very close to Francis Road, which has some great shops, and my amazing hairdresser! There's a lot of green space nearby - Epping Forest and Walthamstow and Hackney Marshes for instance, which is brilliant because we love walking.
What is your signature style?
I think mint green, copper glitter and hand painted speckles have become my signature colours and textures! My style is changing constantly. I get bored quite easily so I'm always coming up with new ideas!
Can anyone start ‘making’?
Anyone can make something if they put their mind to it, but not everyone can do it professionally and make a living from it. It takes a lot of hard work and patience - and skill!
Have you got any advice when it comes to ‘making’?
Try different things, be prepared that things will go wrong - it's all part of the fun of learning!
What is next for you?
I would like to learn some more traditional techniques, woodcarving and metal work hopefully, which I can incorporate into my existing making process.
For more information, visit www.lucie-ellen.com.