Kat Abbott, Tara Hall and Shane Hutchinson completed the beginners jewellery course at Northcity4 last year and have now set up a fully equipped studio space in Collingwood’s Cavern Table Studios and have started creating and selling their jewellery. One of our Beginners Jewellery teachers, Anna Davern paid them a visit to check out how it’s all going…
Hi guys, this space is fantastic! Well done. Can you tell me how it all started? You obviously met at the beginners jewellery course at NC4…
TARA: And then we all did the stone setting course after that
KAT: We probably first started talking about it at the start of the stone setting course. Shane and I started talking about it and then Tara came on board.
So who found the space?
SHANE: Kat found it. We looked at heaps of places on line, but in the end it came down to between two places
TARA: The great thing about Cavern Table is that all expenses are included in the rent: electricity, wifi and public liability insurance.
Where did you see it advertised?
KAT: On the Creative Spaces website which is a great place to find work spaces. A lot of places didn’t want people who have noisy practices. I was really upfront about it: “We’re gonna be banging and sawing and drilling”. A lot of the spaces catered to architects and illustrators etc.
How much space have you got here and do you mind me asking how much it costs?
SHANE: It’s 12 square metres.
TARA: It’s $140 each per month. We’re looking for a fourth person, which will bring it down again (if you’re looking for studio space contact Kat via her website)
KAT: The other great thing is that the guys who manage the studios also have the shop Cavern Table on Johnston St and I’m selling my jewellery there now.
Talk to me about how you went about setting up your studio
SHANE: you can’t do a lot of stuff unless you’ve got the right tools
TARA: We started out using a butane torch but you can’t get enough heat in the metal so I invested in a better torch
KAT: It’s worth investing in the equipment once you get this far
How much have you invested in equipment
KAT: It’s all been Shane really (laughter)
SHANE: I’ve spent about $4000 I suppose. The rolling mills were the big expense. I went nuts with the Rio Grande catalogue. But even though I purchased the equipment, everyone’s free to use it. All the little hand tools add up too and I bought the more expensive stuff, it’s not worth getting the cheap stuff.
TARA: I spent probably $1500 but we share everything.
KAT: I already had lots of tools but I’ve probably spent a couple of hundred
So you could set up a studio like this between four of you for $4000
SHANE: Easily! You could come in here with $500 each and you’d have a great set up. I use the rolling mills a lot but you can buy metal in the size you need so they’re not essential when you start. One of the things we wanted to do when we moved in here was roller printing and no one’s done any!
KAT: I’ve done lots of roller printing!! (laughter)
How much was the postage from Rio Grande, delivered from the US?
SHANE: Dear! Nearly $700 to get it shipped but it still worked out about the same price as getting it here. It got here in 3 days!
So how often do you all get in here?
TARA: I work casually so I’ve started taking Fridays off work so that I can spend the whole day in here. I was living in Gippsland but I’ve moved up here now so it’s a lot easier to get in.
KAT: I come in at least 2 nights a week because I work in Carlton and live in Abbotsford so it’s on the way home and I come in a lot on the weekend because I live really close.
SHANE: I live in Sunbury but I’m moving closer to where I work so I’ll have more time in the studio this year
KAT & TARA: Yay!
SHANE: We email each other every day to see who’s coming in to work. It’s important for us to have a shared studio. I would’ve stopped making jewellery if I didn’t have it. Even if I’d bought all the same equipment that I’ve bought I would’ve stopped without a shared studio.
KAT: it’s exciting to be in the environment where other people work. Also, we come in here and we can tell each other everything. We’re not really attached to each others’ lives so we can be really honest, and bitch and moan (laughter)
SHANE: Yeah, there are 3 counselors in here – it just depends on who’s having a bad day.
TARA: It’s really cathartic coming here. We’re so used to sitting in front of a screen all day, it’s great to do something with your hands. I now have a better appreciation for the expression “blood, sweat and tears” I’ve literally put that into all of my work. (laughter) After travelling last year I came back looking for something that I could be excited about and something to learn that involved making and that I could use to start my own business. I wanted it to be my product, etc, so I took the class at Northcity4 and kept thinking “don’t think too businessy about it, just go there and enjoy it.” And I LOVED it!
SHANE: I nearly didn’t do the course, because I thought it was a girl thing to do rather than a guy thing. And then when I thought about it, it’s almost more manly because of the tools and equipment, etc.
We get a real mix in our classes. So you all have other jobs?
SHANE: I do estimating for windows
TARA: I work in marketing
KAT: I’m in design. Our diverse backgrounds mean that I can do the logos and artwork for the studio, Tara does the strategizing and motivation and Shane can help out with quotes and business stuff.
SHANE: And I can build all the tables and benches. Everyone brings something
Are you selling your work?
KAT: I get quite a few hits and sales on my website. I post stuff on facebook and that get’s lots of people there. I’m also doing the Makers Market at the Abbotsford Convent this weekend (see below for the flyer)
TARA: I had my first market in January and sold my first piece! It was an arts market in Warragul in Gippsland. I applied and they had a cancellation so I took the audacious step and signed up. I had about 2-3 pieces finished pieces when I applied and only 3 days left to make the rest of the work, so I took a few days off my other job and spent 3 days in here just bashing things out. I had 20 pieces at the end.
SHANE: I give most of my stuff away
You have to stop being so generous!
Thanks so much for your time, it’s great to see what you’re doing here and it’s nice to think that Northcity4 contributed to you setting up this great space.