North Cornwall jewellery designer Carin Lindberg draws on her Swedish heritage and her adopted Cornish home for inspiration in creating her elegant work. Carin first showed her work at the Byre in summer 2020 and since then has won many fans, we're thrilled to have her back with us with a new collection for spring and that she took some time to tell us more about her work.
Has jewellery always been a passion for you?
No, not really. I started making jewellery as a hobby and it grew into a job from there. I have always been interested in crafts but never thought I would become a craftsperson full time. I have a Masters degree in animal science, but have also worked with web and mobile phone development, quite far from being a jeweller!
Why did you decide to make a career of it?
It sort of just happened as people were starting to notice what I made and wanted to buy it. I sold online from early on while still working in mobile phone development and later in our own web development company together with my husband. When we decided to move to Cornwall in 2008 the jewellery started taking over and now it’s my full time job. It works for me because I can work around our young family and it gives me freedom to be my own boss; I never liked being told what to do!
Your work draws on your Swedish heritage and your Cornish home, do you think one is a stronger influence than the other?
I’d like to say they are both as strong, but really you can’t take the Swede out of me! I sometimes try to develop my work to be more raw, asymmetric and bold but although I love textures that can be industrial and raw, the shapes of what I make tend to keep coming back to the simplicity of my Scandi roots. I think the two influences do sit rather well together though, they are both natural, relaxed and unassuming in a way.
Are you from a creative family?
My mum was always doing one craft or another, going on workshops, learning and making at home and she was also very interested in Scandinavian design. She was partial to a Swedish Christmas craft market, we had plenty of crafts in our home along with items by e.g. Marimekko, Georg Jensen and Josef Frank. My dad on the other hand doesn’t really have a creative bone (apart from being musical) in his body… Mind you, my paternal grandfather and his ancestors before him, were blacksmiths so I guess the metal work heritage does have something to do with my dad too!
Do you create jewellery that you want to wear yourself or are you influenced by current trends and fashions?
I’m not particularly influenced by trends but I imagine I do work with colours that are prevalent around me at various times. I do make things I want to wear myself, that’s how I first started making jewellery, but sometimes I make things that uses a particular technique that I have picked up or that I like the look of, even though it might not necessarily be something that I would wear myself. I do wear jewellery from both my two styles, the simple and the textured and more elaborate. I feel different things work for different occasions. My own tastes are the reason for having two “veins” of work, I love the elegant and understated but also the textured, industrial and raw.
What do you enjoy making the most?
It has to be rings! Possibly because it’s small and feels contained and controlled. It also usually involves making every single detail of a piece from scratch, no machine made chains or ear fittings. I’m a bit of a control freak and a perfectionist so I like the control I have there. The only thing I’m not so keen on about rings is that it can be tricky with sizes, but I do make a lot of them and it’s my biggest selling type of jewellery commission too. I sometimes dream of just making rings, nothing else!
The other thing I love about what I do is that there are so many things to try in terms of materials, stones and skills. I am always wanting to learn something new and that means my job never really gets boring. My latest thing is cutting some of my own stones, something I’ve been wanting to do for ages. We’ll see if it works out, not everything you try is necessarily successful of course, but it’s always fun trying!
What’s been the biggest thrill for you in your jewellery career?
Oooh, I don’t know! Not one thing in particular, lots of little things; my first online sale, getting accepted to Notonthehighstreet (years ago now), getting my first stockist, making jewellery my full time job, being accepted to Design Nation, making a ring commission for one of my heroes (!), having success selling in galleries such as The Byre Gallery! I think also, when I get a glowing testimonial from a client, that’s right up there as confirmation that what I do matters and is important.
And what’s been the greatest challenge?
Apart from the recent (pandemic) events, I think it’s probably been working around my children. Even though the way I work allows me to navigate around the family, and is partly why I’ve chosen to work like this, it’s also a real challenge at times. I sometimes envy those who don’t have a working day that finishes at 3pm, but of course I wouldn’t want it any other way!
It’s coming up to Easter, do you celebrate with Swedish traditions?
We always have sweets for the kids in special easter eggs. We don’t really have chocolate Easter eggs in Sweden. We have these decorated cardboard eggs that are filled with “pick and mix” sweets. We always used to get them as kids and I remember carrying around that egg and eating sweets for days around Easter! I have to admit that a lot of the Swedish traditions get lost over here, as I’m the only (proper!) Swede in our household. I sometimes even forget about certain special occasions, because there are no reminders or visual cues to them here. I do however find that as I get older I cherish these tradition more and do try to show my kids what they are. I even joined a Swedish choir in Exeter so I could celebrate St Lucia on the 13th of December. That, and because I love singing and music!...
Were there any British traditions you found strange when you first came to the UK?
The taps!! I couldn’t for the life of me understand why you’d have 2 taps instead of a mixer tap! And heating systems, everywhere always used to seem cold, nothing was ever really warm. In Sweden you don’t need to wear woolly jumpers and warm slippers indoors! Stamp duty and gazumping… what the heck?! There are lots of things, but there are also lots of things that are similar, like humour and irony; the Swedes have a very similar sense of humour, it’s not a coincidence that a lot of British television and film is popular in Sweden. It’s also one of the reasons why most Swedes speak pretty good English!
Do take a look at Carin's stunning collection of jewellery here - there is much to fall in love with.