5 questions with designer Julie Hannath Randle

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Julie Hannah Randle lives and works in the small seaside town of Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, England, with her very supportive husband Mark and chocolate Labrador Thornton. Her two sons, Jake and Connor, grew up surrounded by beads and think that it is normal.  She has been making jewelry for around 25 years, and teaching for 5 years. The name of her business is Pretty Little Acorns -- a name that was an offshoot of her husband’s business, which at the time was called Major Oak. She thinks it a clever fit, considering her jewelry students as little acorns whom she hopes to mold in to oak trees one day!
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1. HOW DID YOU LEARN TO MAKE JEWELRY?

In the early days, when my boys were young, I was working as a medical secretary at my local hospital and making jewelry as a hobby.  I had a little board in my office with items I had made pinned on it for sale, and other staff members used to come during their lunch break to purchase my jewelry or give me their ideas to make a design for them.

I had studied silversmithing at our local college, and although I really enjoyed working with silver, it seemed to take forever to produce a piece of jewelry with all the filing, sanding and polishing involved. That frustrated me in those days, so I decided to look for other ways to make things. I studied beading, polymer clay, and wirework. and found this enabled me to produce pieces of jewelry within hours. It opened up a variety of ways to make something pretty and unique.

Following on from there, my husband would give me gifts of workshop vouchers for birthdays and Christmas so I attended workshops on PMC, glassmaking, etc. I even attended a course on pyrography, which I enjoyed very much!   I often thought I knew how to make something. But, after attending a course, I would pick up tips and techniques that I had not thought of, eventually making the job quicker and easier.  I have the ethos that learning is “life long,” so I will never stop learning.

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2. WHAT STYLE OF JEWELRY DO YOU MAKE?

I love the vast mediums and possibilities that jewelry making offers.  I work with wire, beading, silversmithing, stamping, kumihimo and will generally turn my hand to anything creative.  I have attended workshops on glass bead making which is something I am keen to add to my skills list.  There is still so much I want to learn and pass on through my workshops. 

3. WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR WORK?

My inspiration comes from many places but particularly nature and the outdoors.  I recently visited a Buddhist Centre and the garden had the most beautiful twisted willow tree.  The next morning I created a twisted silver pendant with the inspirational quote "I am enough" stamped on it.  Inspiration for me can come in a flash from anywhere.

I find beauty in lots of forms.  I live by the seaside so am drawn to sea glass and drift wood and beautiful natural forms. I have a beautiful garden with trees and flowers that inspire me every day. My lovely workshop was built by my husband in our garden, where I work and also now teach jewelry making. I love to sit at my bench with the view overlooking my garden. I have the workshop door open even on a rainy day--it’s such a beautiful peaceful space and a perfect setting to be creative.

4. WHAT’S THE GOOFIEST/MOST EMBARRASSING MISTAKE THAT YOU EVER MADE?

I turned up to teach a jewelry-making class at a local holiday park one summer. I was assured I would be given a suitable room so did not check the venue before the day. When I arrived with all my tools and students, I was given a small dark corner in a big hall which I had to share for the first hour with an aerobics class.  It was slightly embarrassing to say the least, but it taught me a valuable lesson in that it is important to check the venue and lighting beforehand.

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5. TELL US HOW YOU CAME TO MAKE THE PIECE THAT YOU ENTERED IN THE HARMONY DESIGN CHALLENGE. 

I was contacted by my local hospital to make some stoma jewelry for a patient who had a laryngectomy. This particular lady, Marlene, had always taken huge pride in her appearance and worn lots of jewelry, but had now  lost all her confidence and did not want to leave the house. The jewelry had to be functional yet look pretty, and also be light enough for her to lift and press her button underneath the piece to speak.  The pieces that I created enabled Marlene to be able to breathe through the jewelry but also be able to remove it very quickly if there was a problem. I used a magnetic clasp so that she could just pull it off in an emergency and it will fall away (no fiddly clasps to hold up removal). 

Marlene was such a brave lady coping with her laryngectomy and always trying her best to still look glamorous. She loved me to make jewelry for her to match her different outfits. We had many afternoon chats while I sat with her and made her personalised jewelry to fit. I was so honored to have shared those times with such a special lady. 

The feedback on this jewelry was so overwhelmingly touching and rewarding that I am now putting together a collection for post-op patients to browse through. I am attending an image day at the hospital in a couple of months for patients to show them that they can still wear jewelry after their surgery.  Who would have thought that my messy hobby could turn out to be something that would touch someone’s life in such a positive way! I feel very blessed.

You can follow Julie's progress and learn more about her classes and workshops by following her Pretty Little Acorns Facebook page!
FIND MORE: beads , bead weaving , necklaces

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