07 Mar Maker’s Story: Beth Fairchild of Betsy Rose
They started with an experimentation with clay and an interest in geometry. “I wanted to be able to make unusual shapes,” says Beth Fairchild. And she wanted something feminine to go with those shapes.
Fairchild is the artist and maker behind the UK-based handmade company Betsy Rose. She began her creative path with jewelry, making fabric button earrings out of her home in Hertfordshire. They were popular amongst her friends and family, so the mother of three began selling them at the school craft markets. She didn’t have any intentions of launching it as a business, until she discovered clay.
“It came about a year and a half ago because I wanted to apply for large designer markets,” Fairchild recalls. These specific markets have a larger emphasis on handmade, and she wanted to push herself as a designer to create more unique products. Polymer clay was a popular medium, but she preferred to have more control over the shapes she created. She opted to use air-dry clay, and started playing with geometric designs.
“Shape is the important piece to me,” she explains. With polymer clay, color can be added within the clay itself. But with air-dry clay, color can only be added via paint, and the form of the object takes precedence. Color is only applied after the shape is set. “I wanted to do turquoise and gray because those are my logo colors. I’ll always do turquoise and gray,” she says. “I love those colors together.” With her signature hues chosen, she picked other colors that would coordinate, and built a collection on that.
It’s a multi-step process to create her designs. The geometric tea lights are made entirely by hand, with each uniquely shaped. “I make a bowl of clay, and I cut the candle hole out. Then I cut the edges of the tea light that I like the look of, and then they have to be heat dried to harden them,” Fairchild explains. The edges are then sanded smooth, and two sides are painted. This approach ensures that no two tea lights are exactly the same, save for possibly the pop of color.
The trinket dishes receive the same care and attention to detail. The clay is rolled to a specific thickness – 10 business cards to be exact – and cut to the correct diameter. “Each one is molded inside bowls that I have that are exactly the same,” she says, describing how she’s standardized the size and shape of the dishes, “I let them dry in there for probably about a day, then pop them out and heat dry them for about four hours.” The lace inlay, or other pattern of her choosing, is done when the clay is molded into the bowl. The object is again sanded smooth and painted after drying. She only has six bowls, so only six trinket dishes can be made at a time.
The result is a whimsical, delicate design that adds a touch of brightness to any space. The geometric theme is carried into her other work as well, including a line of handmade jewelry. And while the business side has come about more organically than planned, the artist does intend to further expand her brand, specifically through participating in more events. “I wanted to get in the center of it and feel like I was part of something,” Fairchild says. And there’s no doubt that her colorful creations are sure to make a splash.
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Beth Fairchild is one of the first designers of the England Collection, and we absolutely love how her geometric tea lights and lace print trinket dishes brighten our day!