Time for another installment of Crafty Critters, my interview series where I chat to some of my fave creative instagrammers who share photos of their gorgeous work and their pets online! This is fast becoming my favourite part of the month!
This month I caught up with Layla Amber who creates stunning laser cut jewellery inspired by her surroundings in the suffolk coastal countryside. Layla is the proud owner of Ted, a super cute miniature wire-haired dachshund who keeps her company in her home studio. Find out more about Layla and Ted below...
How long have you been running your business and what inspired you to start making jewellery from your illustrations?
I started making jewellery when I left university in 2010. I studied Graphic design which involved a lot of computer work and I really missed making things with my hands. I had some spare time that summer so I started experimenting with different designs. One of the things I tried was turning some of my bird illustrations into jewellery. I loved how cute they were on a miniature scale! I did a few local fairs, opened an etsy shop and it’s all gone on from there. My design style has definitely evolved over the last 6 years and I now focus on more illustrative hand-painted laser cut designs.
When and where did you get Ted?
We got Ted in January 2015, so he’s about a year and half old now. It was a lovely way to start the new year! After a lot of searching we found a wonderful couple in Newark who bred beautiful, healthy puppies. We always knew we wanted a miniature wire-haired dachshund, we love how their faces have so much character with their beard and eyebrows!
Working in the Suffolk countryside must provide lots of inspiration for your work, is that where you're originally from?
Yes, I’m originally from Suffolk. I moved to Norwich for a few years while I was studying, but to be honest I couldn’t wait to get home! I’m definitely a country girl! I live in Southwold which is a pretty little seaside town, it's full of beautiful scenery and wildlife and I’m massively inspired by it. I especially love it in the summer when everything is bright and in bloom.
Where are some of your favourite places to walk Ted?
Out of season we love to walk Ted on the beach, but in the Summer it gets too busy so we mostly walk around the common. Ted loves it because there’s lots of long grass for him to leap around in, and everywhere smells of bunnies! It’s a beautiful, peaceful place, definitely a good way to start and end the day. Before we got Ted I didn’t go out during the week an awful lot…it’s very easy not to when you work from home! So getting him has been great for getting me away from the studio for a bit.
What's the process of designing a new piece or collection? How do you seek out inspiration or does it come naturally?
My inspiration usually comes from something I’ve seen while walking, such as a hare jumping through the grass or a beautiful flower. If I can, I take a quick photo and work on the idea when I get time. I used to do most of my designing in Jan/Feb as this is my quietest time, but I recently bought an iPad Pro and Apple pencil and it’s completely changed how I work. I can just sit on the sofa in the evenings and prepare designs for the laser cutter, rather than spending hours stuck at my computer. It’s made me far more productive! When the design is ready I do some tests on the laser, then make alterations if needed. This process can take a while! Once I’m happy with the design it’s time to play with colours which is my favourite bit!
What's your favourite memory of Ted?
I loved the day we took him home. I just remember him sitting on my lap staring up at me on the long car journey home. I totally fell in love with him! Ted is a tiny dog with a huge personality and there are so many funny little things that he does. He’s a massive attention seeker. If he wants attention he will stand like a Meerkat and move his little paws up and down. It’s so adorable. He is also very cute when he meets people. He LOVES tummy rubs and when someone comes up to him to say hello he just flings himself onto his back with his little tail wagging. When he was much younger he used to do this and wee at the same time, it was very funny/embarrassing.
Do you laser cut everything yourself at home or do you outsource
At the start of this year I decided to invest in a laser cutter. So I’m pleased to say that everything is now made by me directly from my studio!
Animals and birds play a big part in your work - what are your favourites?
I love birds, I just find them fascinating. How cool would it be to be able to fly! My favourites are swallows, in the Summer they nest behind our house and they always sit outside my studio window and sing. I also love woodland animals, my favourite being the deer. They are just so majestic!
Who are some of your favourite designer-makers (or pets/pet owners) on instagram?
I love @theworldaccordingtoharris and @brunotheminidachshund who are both adorable. My favourite craft/pet instagrammers are @onrshop who has 2 beautiful kitties and @pollyfern who makes gorgeous ceramics and has 2 canaries!
Thanks so much to Layla for taking the time to talk to me all about her work and her adorable pooch Ted. You can find her jewellery on her website and catch up with what Ted's up to on Layla's instagram account. He even has his own hashtag!