Aled Jenkins – Llechen Gymreig / Welsh Slate

Aled Jenkins – Llechen Gymreig / Welsh Slate

Tell us a little about what you make? 

I create homeware, jewellery and sculptures from Welsh slate. Each piece is unique, due to the nature of the slate and potential inclusions – and the very nature of the crafting process.

Crafting with SlateThe vases and clocks are made from reclaimed roofing slates while the bird sculptures emerge from old slate sills and thresholds. The jewellery comes from a mixture of both. Pieces of slate are hand-cut then polished by hand to achieve the smooth tactile finish. 

What inspires you and where do you find that inspiration? 

I enjoy walking and being immersed in the changing seasons, watching wildlife along the coast and rivers. There’s a direct line from that to snowdrop vases, kingfisher sculptures and bird pendants. 

Tell us about your favourite medium. 

Well I guess that would be slate! It’s about the only medium I work with, apart from some resin and mica powders. I relish the challenges it throws up – there can be inclusions or tiny fissures within the slate that I have to work around. 

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of being an artist or maker? 

The freedom that comes with being your own boss – I previously worked as a set designer and builder so it’s great to set my own working day now.  My least favourite part of that is probably the marketing and promotion, doing something like this – writing about myself! 

What does being a member of the Ceredigion Art and Craft Trail mean to you? 

Being part of a larger group is always rewarding when you spend so much time working solo – from meeting people to getting involved in trails and exhibitions to enable my work to reach a wider audience. 

How do you manage a work-life balance as an artist/maker? 

I’m lucky that most of my work isn’t time-sensitive so I can pick it up and put it down as I like. This means that if the weather is good I can get out onto the hills or along the river, then pick up where I left off in the evening or when the rain comes in! 

What are you working on at the moment? 

I’m expanding my range of birds at the minute – owls are the newest ones. It’s a challenge to get the lines recognisable without too much detail – fine cuts and turns are problematic in slate as it can fracture where you don’t want it to. 

How do you know when your work is finished? 

From a purely practical level –  my pieces are a craft so unlike a painting which can have a nebulous quality, each vase of bird has a definite start and end point. 

What is the biggest challenge of being an artist/maker? 

I think it’s probably achieving the balance between what I want to make and what customers want to buy! It’s a perennial issue for so many makers – you create something that you love, that you’re happy with, but it doesn’t prove a popular seller. And vice versa! 

What advice would you give to new artists or makers at the start of their creative journey? 

Just make! Make as much as you can – good or bad, you’ll learn and progress.