About The JQ Set
Hi! I’m Pippa Leaver, the bright and shiny woman who started The JQ Set in 2018; a jewellery workshop for learners, makers and creators in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.
Are you looking to bring more creativity into your life?
It’s frustrating, isn’t it, that we spend more and more time stuck in front of a screen; that more and more of the things we create are digital files out there in the interwebz, rather than real-life objects in our hands. Especially now that more of us are working remotely from home.
I know that feeling well – I’ve been there – and it led me to search for new ways I could create things in a more tactile and tangible way. The top of my list was jewellery making classes, and I was in love immediately. Jewellery suited my detail-orientated mind, and my magpie-like fascination with shiny precious objects. And yep, that’s how I started my jewellery career – on part-time courses just like the ones I now teach here at The JQ Set.
My jewellery story
I loved learning to make jewellery on the part-time courses I’d joined.
So much so, that I didn’t make it any further down that list of craft classes I wanted to try. In fact, I was so excited by jewellery making that I quit my career as a Structural Engineer and went back to full-time education to retrain as a jeweller. It wasn’t as simple (or as quick!) as that makes it sound, but I needed more from my career than I was getting. I’d spent years feeling lost and unsure what to do about it, wondering which direction to take.
But here I am, almost 10 years on from re-graduating, working in the trade as a bench jeweller for an independent jewellery designer/maker, and running my own jewellery business, The JQ Set – a jewellery school and co-working space based in Birmingham. The workshop is based in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, the “largest concentration of manufacturing jewelers in Europe” – where else could it be?! And I still love learning new jewellery techniques.
My jewellery mission
I’m passionate about learning, making and creating. My teaching approach is full of curiousity, with a firm focus on quality and skills.
I set up The JQ Set to offer jewellery making courses in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter that focus on metalwork handskills. I teach specific jewellery techniques in a way that students can take them away with them and apply them to their own designs. The courses are not just for those wanting to add a creative playtime to their lives, but also those who want to explore a career change and gain traditional jewellery skills, just like I had the opportunity to do.
I’ve worked hard to make the courses easy to say yes to; Short course blocks in the evenings and at weekends to fit into your busy lives, smaller class sizes (max 10) and no mixed ability classes to give you more time with your tutor, and the tools and materials needed are sorted for you and included in the cost. If this sounds good to you, go have a browse of the courses
“It turns out that people who try new things (go new places, learn new skills, etc.) are happier.
If you can push through [frustration], novelty and challenge can bring enormous happiness rewards.”
– Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project
My jewellery background
After I graduated from Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery, I had a place on their Artist in Residence program, with the intention of setting up my own business as a jewellery designer/maker. After a year of assisting on the full-time jewellery courses as an AIR, I was put forward to take over teaching the evening classes – I must have been doing something right!
I soon realised that if the part-time courses could be improved upon, then more people could learn to make jewellery. At first, I worked with the university, trying to develop what they were offering and the way the part-time courses were structured. After a few years it became clear that change in a university can be at a snail’s pace, so I set out on my own, found a workshop space to renovate, created a beautiful creative studio, and here we are!