Thursday, 17 July 2014

Artist Feature: The Wonderful work of Gillian Corcoran (Lost Forest)

Through her brand, the beautifully named 'Lost Forest', Dublin based Gillian Corcoran creates stunning eco resin jewellery. Each piece is created entirely by hand with a labour intensive process. All inclusions such as flower petals, plant leaves and feathers, are sourced locally and Gillian even uses eco resin to ensure that the product is eco friendly. The result is a permanent yet delicate piece of art that you can wear and treasure.

1. How did your business come about (and when did you start)?

I opened my first Etsy shop back in 2012 under the name Resin Road. I had started doing a lot of research into resin casting as I was eager to find a new craft to explore. It seemed like an interesting and intriguing medium to use so I began to do a lot of research into it, emphasis on a lot! It took several months as information is very scarce on the internet regarding techniques and advice. I decided to jump in and do my own research and experimented every day to perfect my new craft and learn as much as I could along the way. It took me the best part of a year to feel fully confident with using resin.

I then decided to take the plunge and completely re-brand myself as I was eager to start using eco resin. Eco resin appealed greatly to me as all my inclusions are sourced in nature, it felt imperative that I should preserve within a substance from nature too! So my research began again last year into eco resin. I read up everything I could find on it and perfected my technique once more. I'm delighted now with how my shop has a completely eco friendly ethos and that all my materials are sourced from my local surroundings.

2. Can you give a quick insight into your working method? (ideas, techniques, etc.)

My process is a very organic one. I will gaze over my collections of dried flowers and feathers and let a design form naturally in my imagination. It usually happens very quickly as I have a very active imagination! I then choose a mold I think will work best for the arrangement and if gold/copper/silver leaf is needed or dyes/glitter should be incorporated into the design. Next step is to mix up the resin, de-gas, and pour. Eco resin has a long cure time- usually a week. I have to try and remain patient, which is tough as I'm always very eager to see how the design turned out. Next stage is de-molding, cutting, lots of sanding, re-coating then polishing. The process can take up to two weeks but it's one I love. I feel very proud of my process and technique as I've taught myself from the inception and I'm quite protective over it, so I never give away all the details! 

3. What has been the hardest single obstacle to your life in design (apart from a shortage of time, which seems to be universal amongst creatives!)?

I find it disheartening to discover others being directly influenced by my shops concept and design and promoting it as their own idea. I'm always very flattered by people telling me that I have inspired them, it's something that makes me very happy to hear. However, as every artist/crafter knows it's a stab to the heart to see blatant plagiarism, especially when you've worked hard to create a unique idea and concept. It's imperative to me to be individual and it forms the basis of being a creative person, so when I do come across it I challenge myself and begin to work on new ideas to make my creations completely unique once more.

4. How do you stay motivated? What inspires you?

Nature always motivates and inspires me. It forms the basis of my work as all my flowers, leaves and feathers are collected from mother nature's supply closet! I always go on daily adventures into my local forests, parks and mountains to ignite my creativity. I'm constantly scanning my surroundings for that little bit of inspiration, such as a lost magpie feather nestled amongst the tall grass, or a carpet of lush shamrocks lining the floor of the woodlands. It immediately sparks an idea in my mind and the creative process has begun!

5. What has been the icing on the cake for you as a artist/designer?

For me it's creating custom pieces. I feel very honoured to be chosen to create unique mementos for people, such as wedding bouquet bangles. To be the guardian of a few sprigs of blooms from a bouquet, which is imbued with so many emotions and sentiment is very special. To then encapsulate all of those memories into resin is the greatest satisfaction for me as an artist, designer and crafts person. 

6. Who do you admire (other artists/designers; other people generally) and what/who are your biggest influences, past or present?

I'm influenced mainly by crafts people. I consider what I do as more of a craft than anything else, as it's a skilled manual process from beginning to end. Craft people working with organic materials influence me a lot, such as the stunning wooden creations by Greg Klassen and the magical resin worlds created by Riusuke Fukahori.

7. Describe your creative space

My studio is small yet functional! I try to designate areas for certain tasks- a resin making desk, separate table for heavy duty work like sanding, cutting, polishing and degassing and then a packing table and display space. It's a lot to fit in to a small room but it definitely helps to be organised and makes for a more functional and less stressful working environment! I have a passion for interior design so I have made my mark on my studio! I've kept the walls and furnishings in neutral cream tones and combined it with objects such as lamps, painted mason jars etc in tones of aqua (my favourite colour!) to add subtle accents of colour. I also fill my studio with fresh flowers from the garden to add inspiration, colour and of course lovely aromas. It's a nice space to work in and it gets plenty of light and once I have my music on I can happily work away there for hours on end!

8. What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Never give up! It's tough setting up your own business. You work all the hours you can get and you are responsible for every part of your business but if you have passion and believe in yourself and what you're doing then nothing is impossible!

You can keep up to date with Gillian's work here...

(all above images are © Gillian Corcoran)