UP CLOSE: Stamford metal-smith Shalini Austin

  Posted: 27.01.21 at 15:54 by The Editor

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A self-taught metal-smith is hammering her way to success in Stamford.

Shalini Austin is originally from New Delhi, India, but has lived in Stamford for more than 20 years with husband Dave and their dogs.

Shalini told Nub News: "When we met, my husband already lived here after retiring from the RAF.

"I love Stamford too so instead of following what the sign says to "stay awhile amid its ancient charms" we call this lovely little town home and hope to live here for a very long time."

Shalini has been self-employed for about 25 years, first in India and then here.

"I have worked in event management, art & craft, travel and now making and selling copper things. I still organise local exhibitions and markets but the travel related businesses are in the past.

"I started my creative business in November 2008 as a part time jewellery maker, now it is what I do full time."

Shalini started working with wire and semi precious gemstones in 2008, making jewellery to sell at local craft shows.

She recalled: "I once bought a necklace in Peterborough and then said that it was often difficult to get something unique at a reasonable price.

"I am from India where individually hand-crafted jewellery is available to buy to suit any budget and I was quite used to indulging in my love for bling!"

At the time, husband Dave said: "You could do that! Why don’t you make your own?"

Shalini continued: "As I progressed on my creative journey I learnt to appreciate sheet metal. Once I discovered sheet copper (and it was love at first sight!) I just kept playing with it.

"I am mostly self taught. But one has to always keep learning. I refer to metalworking and lapidary tutorials and online workshops from time to time to learn certain techniques, I adapt these to my individual designs and style.

"Initially I was only making jewellery. Then I slowly got the confidence to try bigger things and started making small sculptures. All my designs are created individually in my home studio in Stamford."

Shalini makes everything herself, which makes most of her pieces one-off.

Shalini continued: "I am happiest when I am hammering sheet copper to form sculptural pieces.

"Many of my designs are organic and quite rustic; they appeal to people who like something out of the ordinary.
"I accept commissions and will be happy to make something bespoke for special occasions/events."

While the business progressed over the years, the pandemic hit, especially as it ended so many exhibitions and craft shows.

Shalini said: "I do have an Online Shop but being able to sell in-person via stockists, meeting new customers at exhibitions and craft show, and occasionally doing live art / open studios is important too. These opportunities have been quite limited because of Covid-19.

"To get around this I have spoken to customers over zoom and I am spending more time advertising my business on social media than I used to.

"But we are in the middle of a pandemic and getting through that safely is priority right now. I am very hopeful business will pick up again once life gets back to normal. Until then I am relying on my websites and other online marketplaces for my income."

"If you want to see what I do, visit www.shaliniaustin.com from the safety of your home and shop online. I am always happy to speak with customers on phone or via a video link (Zoom / Whats App etc)."

Shalini added: "Things are rather tough at the moment, especially for the self-employed. My message to everyone is quite simple really – 'It is not easy but please try and Stay Positive'.

"Take appropriate precautions when you have to be around other people. Cooperate with the people working hard to help us. We have to work at this together for everyone’s sake. Stay Safe!"

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