One of the things I love most about having my own creative business is that I get to meet so many talented and passionate designers, makers and artists!
I would love to use this platform to introduce you to some of them.
So, today is the first of what I hope will be a long running creative talent series.
A chance for me to introduce you to some amazing people and their beautiful products!
And, who better to start the series than Gemma Williams from Gem's Concrete Gems?!
Gemma is based in Reading, Berkshire and designs and makes beautiful and functional items from concrete. We met through Instagram and I just love her energy and design style. Here are her answers to my questions!
Hi Gemma, welcome! Tell us a little about what you make
I make contemporary concrete creations for the home, such as clocks, candles, coasters and pots. Each piece is designed, handcast and finished by me. Some pieces have additional decoration such as a stencil, whilst others are just sealed and kept as they are.
How did you get started making concrete items?
Back in 2014, I was sat in the garden of my in-laws having a family barbecue, with me bemoaning my boring accountancy job (again...) and wishing I was doing something more creative. From somewhere the idea arose of making concrete clocks. I think my sister-in-law had just bought one!
Nothing much happened for a while - I was pregnant with my second baby and work was going through redundancies again! I escaped the cut for the third time, but I started thinking that this really wasn't the life for me. I wanted more flexibility, more time to spend with kids, to be able to take and fetch them from school and be around for them as my mum had been for me. Also nursery fees are sooo expensive!!
So I started experimenting with the concrete idea and produced some quite good products. In 2017, I was told I would be made redundant for real this time, at the same time as going on maternity leave (not because of that though I hasten to add). So this was my chance to try the concrete idea for real! I now work 2 days a week in an office, which I hope will only be temporary. The rest of the time I look after my two boys and make concrete!
What is your favourite part of the job?
I really enjoy the whole process, however I love setting myself up in the workshop and experimenting with marbling pigments in the concrete.
There's something quite relaxing about it.
And, I'm always so excited to see the finished results once the concrete has cured, as each piece is always totally unique.
What process takes the longest/ is the most challenging?
The process which takes the longest is waiting for the concrete to cure.
As it cures, concrete gets stronger and stronger, only reaching full strength after about 28 days.
In the winter, it can take quite a while to cure, which leads me on to the most challenging part of the process, which is the de-moulding. Taking the pieces out of the moulds needs to be timed so that the concrete has cured enough and does not break, but is not in the mould so long that sanding the base becomes impossible.
I also want to get them out as soon as possible to free up the mould for the next cast. I do still get breakages, especially with thin-walled items, which is very frustrating after all the waiting.
What’s your top tip for looking after your products?
Concrete is an extremely strong material, however it will shatter if dropped on a hard surface, and corners can be chipped if care is not taken. Most of my pieces have a cork base to protect your surfaces, and therefore they cannot be washed. A wipe with a (damp) cloth should be all that is required to keep them clean.
Are you working on anything new?
I'm always working on new ideas. Right now, I'm working on some hanging Easter decorations, and also trying to perfect the finish on my large round marbled concrete clocks.
If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
I guess I would be working more in my accountancy job!! It doesn't bear thinking about.
Who are your three favourite online makers?
This is so hard to narrow down.
And, finally (the big one) ... what’s your favourite colour?
I've always said purple was my favourite colour, but right now I'm loving the teal colour on my dandelion candle.
Loved the products featured in this post?
You can find Gemma's online store here.
You can find Gemma on Instagram here.
What do you think?
Did you find something you loved? Would you like to see more content like this from us? Want to be featured in a future blog post? We'd love to hear your thoughts!
Let us know in the comments.
The small print
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