Kat McLean Irish fashion Jewellery Designer

Fire and Fae

Kat McLean Irish fashion Jewellery Designer

Kat McLean Irish fashion Jewellery Designer

Kat McLean is a Northern Irish jewellery designer, based in Belfast who is a sole designer, owner and metalsmith for her brand Fire And Fae.

Often inspired by the magic of myths and legends, Kat is a self-confessed ‘texture-vert’ – which can be seen in her love of layering, the finish of her pieces, as well as the choice of materials she uses – sometimes dark, sometimes sparkly.

Her initial collection ‘Fire And Ice’ launches on Friday 28th August which showcases a range of creations for your inner goth or inner faery. We at Fashion.ie caught up with Kat to find out more about the master behind such wonderful creations.

What got you interested in jewellery design?

I have always had an interest in fashion, and in jewellery in particular, for as long as I can remember. It is great when people can express themselves through their clothing and adornment choices.

I buy a lot of jewellery and am particularly drawn to big, statement pieces, and unusual textures and materials.

I have a particular interest in found object and more rugged / organic jewellery design and this led me to find Susan Lenart Kazmer, which, at the end of last year, led to me taking a course with her online.

This is where I really got started with designing and creating my own jewellery.

Did you have to go to college to train?

I didn’t train in college. Actually I studied languages at university, although my course involved a lot of study on surrealist artists, This allowed me to take an in-depth look at other cultures around the world.

This was certainly beneficial to me as I start on this journey out in the world of Jewellery design. I actually took a 6-month online metal-smithing course with Susan Lenart Kazmer, which started at the end of last year, I only got properly into designing my own pieces in the last couple of months.

Pieces from the Fire & Ice Collection

Pieces from the Fire & Ice Collection

What type of jewellery do you design?

The easiest way I would describe my jewellery is ‘untamed’ and unconventional (a bit like me!) Mostly I work with silver and a variety of gems, although I like to use natural objects / bone / wood as well.

I like to experiment and play with the normal ‘rules’ of metal-smithing. I am a ‘texture-vert’ – I love a juxtaposition of unlikely materials put together – something rich and sumptuous with something jagged and jarring.

As a creative designer I am not into overly polished work. I like my jewellery to be intentionally rugged and interesting to look at.

What is the most challenging thing about being a jewellery designer?

As I am at the start of my designing journey, I am brimming with ideas and I often find that translating my ideas into a cohesive piece of jewellery (or even a drawing!) can be challenging!

For this same reason, I also find it hard to concentrate on one piece of jewellery from start to finish before I start a new piece!. Sometimes I have several projects on the go at once.

I also find time to be an issue – I work another job part-time and I have two children, so time is a precious commodity. Lots of people will be able to relate on that front, given the past few months of lockdown!

I also think my lack of confidence sometimes holds me back – I have so many wild ideas, but because I am still learning as I go and because my designs are somewhat unconventional, Sometimes I feel that I am not qualified enough to interpret these ideas into reality.
I’m not sure when a designer ever gets past this though!

Would you say your designs appeal people of all age groups?

Yes, I think I would have something for everyone! I am quite contrary in nature, so I tend to flit between very detailed pieces and more minimal designs. There is definitely room for both! And I think this means I would cater to a wide variety of tastes and age ranges.

What piece of jewellery have you designed to date that is most special to you and why?

I think my most special piece to date is a necklace that I made for myself. It is a huge piece, with an agate druzy as the star of the show, and it incorporates a lot of the new skills I learned into one design.

It took me quite a long time to make and, although I had my design in mind, it had to be tweaked a lot in order to become a wearable piece.

Have you seen an increase in demand for your work since the lockdown?

I have just really started to put myself out there, in terms of a social media presence, and I am about to release my very first collection of jewellery, so I have no comparison with demand as of yet.

In general people do still seem to be interested in spending money, and there has definitely been a lot of support for what I am doing, which is encouraging.

What is the most unusual piece of jewellery you have been asked to design?

I haven’t been taking commissions yet, as I have been working away on my own collection.

What’s the best part about designing jewellery for a living?

I find it very therapeutic to have a creative outlet. To me it’s one of the best parts of being able to design as a job.

I also LOVE when someone just falls in love with a piece I have made – it is such a great feeling to know that you have made something that resonates with someone else.

Are there any designers that inspire you?

My two favourite jewellery designers are Susan Lenart Kazmer and Ace from Studio Luna Verde. Both women are very different in terms of style, but it is their approach to jewellery making that appeals to me.

They are both very much doing their own thing / making their own rules in terms of their processes. And the results are spectacular!

Fire and Fae Jewelry

Fire and Fae Jewelry

How do your designs differ to that of other jewellery designers?

I think probably my tendency to experiment leads me in a lot of interesting directions! The process of creating a piece is just as important as the final result and I think a piece of jewellery should hold whispers of the person who made it. Personally, I prefer interesting, unusual jewellery and I think the personality of a piece is more important than ‘perfection’.

Can people request bespoke items?

I am not really sure how I feel about commission work at the moment. I am not taking requests for bespoke items as I am concentrating on my collection release.

For me, designing is an intuitive and artistic process, and it is fluid – always changing and evolving, so making something to request seems like the opposite of that for me.

At the moment I want to be free to create whatever is in my head and my soul, and I’m never quite sure what the end product will be!

From a more practical point of view – it also depends on what materials I can get my hands on – a lot of what I use cannot be easily sourced, and therefore not easily replicated.

I don’t like making the same thing twice anyway! Who knows whether that will change!

If you could design any piece of jewellery for any celebrity, who would it be and what would you like to design for them?

Probably someone like Helena Bonham Carter – I think my jewellery would fit with her sense of style and I would be able to play with some over the top, theatrical designs.

What advice would you offer to anyone thinking of taking up jewellery design?

Don’t be afraid to explore. I haven’t exactly chosen a conventional route into the craft, but there is room for everyone, no matter what your background is. Also – be prepared to make mistakes – a lot of them! Mistakes are all a part of the learning curve.

Here at Fashion.ie we love to support and promote Irish fashion designers. You can keep up to date with the latest news from Fire and Fae by following them on Facebook, Instagram or their website

The good news is you will be able to purchase pieces from Fire and Fae at their new shop at Etsy which is expected to launch at the end of this month.

Kat McLean Irish fashion Jewellery Designer

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