The Handmade’s Tale: Michelle Louise Finnerty

UK-based jewellery designer Michelle Finnerty tells Natasha about her kooky and colourful creations.

Whether it’s deco dames, pink flamingos, mid-century cats or kitschy cocktails, Michelle Finnerty draws them all in technicolour before printing them on plastic, cutting them out and baking them until hard. Once bent into the desired shape, they turn into another wearable piece of art for her handmade jewellery line.

Although Michelle (who trades under the Etsy moniker Rosie Rose Parker) has only been dabbling in jewellery making for about seven months, she’s a lifelong creative with a background in fashion design and fine arts.

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I first stumbled across her amazing handiwork while trawling Etsy one day and couldn’t resist buying a novelty bracelet adorned with mannequin lady heads.

It arrived in the mail a few weeks later, beautifully packaged,with a matching pair of earrings and a personalised name tag. I was instantly smitten with her work and dying to learn more.

Read on to learn more about Rosie Rose Parker, her inspirations, creative process and her penchant for Picasso!

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How long have you been making jewellery? Were you always creative/ crafty as a youngster?

From being a child, I’ve always been an ‘arty farty’ it’s just something which came very naturally. My mother was a seamstress and very creative, so we’d send hours creating together. I took fine art at college and the did a degree in graphics design and then a Masters in Fine Art.

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Although I have worked in many corporate jobs – my creative juices have always been there lingering with a niggling feeling that’s that what I should really be doing.To be completely honest I’ve only been making jewellery professionally for seven months – before that I was a vintage dress designer and owned ‘Oh La Lovelies’ selling bespoke fitted dresses for all shapes and sizes of women.

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I’ve always been obsessed with Bakelite and 1950s jewellery and decided to try and find a way to create my own designs using plastics within the UK – with that I took pen to paper and created a set of brooches using just shrink plastics, I found the medium easy to use and versatility. My jewellery journey began there.

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How would you describe your aesthetic?

My designs I consider to be incredibly ‘retro’… ‘pretty’.. ‘kooky’ and unique. My statement bracelets I are like wearing a piece of art on your wrist, they’re very unusual… most people ask where I got mine from and I say ‘me’ !

What are your creative inspirations?

I love anything mid-century – I tend to base my designs from the 1920s to the 1980s and currently I’m working on an Carmen Miranda range, which I think is going to be such fun!

I adore colour so you’ll often find my pieces are very bright and slightly unconventional. One of my old time favourite artists is Picasso so you’ll often see influences of him through some of my brooches.

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How has your taste and work evolved?

My work I feel has become a lot more detailed and mid-century focused over the last three months or so…. and I am going to start adding much more personal touches in my necklaces and bracelets over the next year… so watch this space!

What’s the first piece you remember making?

My first ever brooch I made was from my painting called the ‘gossip bitches’… it’s an illustration of one of three ladies in the original painting. I didn’t think in a million years anyone would buy one – it was actually just a test piece… however I loaded her in my shop and it was a big hit! The piece is still up for sale and is one of my best selling pins.

Tell me about the process involved in making your pieces.

My process is detailed, and all my pieces take about two days to fully make. Bracelets and necklaces generally a little longer.

I create my designs by hand and the illustrate them in vector format in CS 6. When I like the overall drawn piece, I then create all parts of the set separately, I print and cut the designs on plastics and then bake them until hard. From that I bend them into shape before they’re fully hardened.

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Once hardened, I then gloss the pieces individually and wait for them to dry. Overnight, when the pieces are set, I hand compile the pieces to create the finished product. Lastly I package them onto my personalised backing cards or wrap them for my lovely customers.

What materials do you use? And how long does each piece take to make?

I use hard plastics – paints – different inks to create depth, and lots of shiny hard gloss! I use only the best jewellery making supplies and collect jewels to create my statement pieces. Each piece takes about 2-3 days to make from scratch.

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What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I just love thinking about creating something beautiful to wear! I spend hours thinking about my next collection and the excitement of sharing them. I also love my customers and seeing the sheer joy and excitement of opening my packages and the thank yous makes me cry with joy. I couldn’t think of anything else I could be doing that would bring me this much joy… apart from owning a Pug farm!

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Have you always been a vintage jewelry lover/ collector?

My love for vintage has always been a bit of an addiction… it began as soon as I watched ‘Some like it hot’ with my nanna as a child. From then on I was obsessed with old movies and musicals. I just seem to feel like I belong in one of those films wearing fluffy slippers and dressing up outrageously every day.

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What do you do when you’re not making things?

When I’m not making – which is rare I must say!… I’m normally hanging out with my family and spending time with my little co partner in crime Joey the pug. I live just on the sea coast so you’ll see us pottering up the front with ice creams and watching the world go by.

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Where can people learn more about your work and purchase their own pieces?

My main focus is on Esty shop currently at ‘Rosey Rose Parker’ where you can find all my new collections, where you’ll find everything fabulous of course.

You’ll also find me at lots of vintage fairs such as Lou Lous Vintage this September and fingers crossed at next years ATOMIC UK where of course I’ll be having a good boogie to 50s big bands.

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