Dovile Kondrasovaite has set up her own successful jewellery business, designing and hand-carving exquisite pieces in ebony and amber. Like many young designers, she built her business from scratch, and had the added challenge of being in a new city, away from her native Lithuania.
'I came to Birmingham with no contacts and only knew there was a district called the Jewellery Quarter. I was searching online for workshop space, so I could start my career.'Back in Lithuania Dovile had been working full time as a teacher with no time to develop her artistic practice, and so she left everything behind to start afresh in the UK. The Jewellery Quarter proved the ideal place for her jewellery business.
New beginnings'I brought only some tools and came to this country, looking for a place where I could work.' She found Artisan Alchemy, and rents bench space from the gallery in the dedicated workshop and communal bench area. 'I'm here most days and fit my designing around bits of work and teaching classes in the Jewellery Quarter. I make contemporary jewellery, a lot of it in bog oak and amber. Being from the Baltic States, I wanted to reinterpret the use of amber. You find a lot of it is mass produced, and I am exploring how else to represent it. 'I studied jewellery in my country, and see thousands of bad examples of mass-produced jewellery. I don't want that negative association, so I carve the amber into shapes, keeping the raw material.'
Jewellery business in BirminghamDovile has worked from her space at Artisan Alchemy for three years and adds:
'It's great! I like the location because I can go to St Paul's Square for lunch, and there's a little courtyard down by the workshops, giving the place quite a European flavour.
'I'm in my second year of exhibiting at national craft fairs and shows, and at various galleries. I'm still starting up, really, but this space is ideal for young creatives, graduates and anyone just starting out.'
Forging aheadDovile enjoys the 24/7 access at Artisan Alchemy, and adds: 'I'm often here on a Sunday, earphones and mask on, drilling away. I get completely lost in my work.'
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