Who is CRZyBest?
So, you might be wondering who is this 'CRZyBest'? Well, that's me!
Often, I'm introduced as my business name and that's great, because I am Claire R. Zwozny-Bestwick and just in case you were wondering...
I'm the one in the pink boots!
Hi, my name is CRZyBest or Claire R. Zwozny Bestwick!
I’m an eco-friendly Silversmith and Sculptor; creating unique sculptures using precious metal clay and turning them into jewellery, gifts, accessories and alternative bouquets, from my Shedquarters in Derbyshire, alongside Barley my Jack Russell. You can usually find out what we have been up to on my social media and when the pubs open again, you will find me enjoying a tasty real ale or two in my local.
CRZyBest has officially been my full-time business since October 2017, however I have always created a whole variety of things ever since I can remember. Here’s a bit about my background if you are interested…
My education and training have always been based around creativity, right up to and including my Masters Degree in Education which was concerned with discovering what creativity is and how can we can nurture and recognise it! I studied education and creativity to expand my knowledge whilst teaching Art, Craft and Design at secondary school. I completed my PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) in 1999 and became a teacher of Art, qualified to teach up to A’ level, which I did. Starting as a newly qualified teacher in a boarding school, before moving to London and then back to my home town of Derby.
The move back to Derby, doing supply teaching, was only supposed to be temporary whilst I was completing my VSO (Voluntary Services Oversees) training and waiting for my overseas placement. Well, after spending my weekends studying global economics and getting jabs for all sorts of things, the only places found to send me were far beyond the realms of my CV. I’m all for pushing the boundaries, but taking such a big leap that those borders have been missed completely, seemed a bit much at the time, so I made a split decision to stay in my hometown and buy my own house instead!
Working in a Secondary School with the challenge of Ofsted placing it into special measures, was like a perfect storm to use all my previous teaching experience, mixing the long hours of being a resident tutor in a boarding school, alongside dealing with the issues of working in a tough North London school. I enjoyed the challenge and grew with the changes, gradually being shoved up a ladder I had no wish to climb! Alongside my specialist subject of Art, I taught English and various Design Technology subjects, learning a great deal alongside my hardworking colleagues.
After the head of Art left the school I was working at, I found myself responsible for the department, with a variety of job titles during the change overs of eight head teachers and move into a new school building. I built the Art department up from having fourteen students across both GCSE year groups, to over a hundred students, studying across GCSE and Btec with a strong emphasis on ceramics and sculpture. Ofsted rated me as outstanding on their last two visits, I enjoyed my job and spent hours of additional time running a whole variety of clubs and hosting meetings for Art Teachers from all around Derby, alongside visiting external providers to find out about further opportunities for my students and to support others in the education sector. Looking back, my extreme dedication set me up wonderfully well for starting my own business.
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in 3-dimensional Design, Silversmithing and Jewellery; I studied this after completing an Art Foundation course which introduced me to silversmithing alongside other more familiar materials and processes in ceramics, print, making, woodwork and photography including a contextual studies assignment about brewery architecture. I've always enjoyed combining my interests!
My Silversmithing degree taught me a whole heap of different processes, including: raising, folding, chasing, silver soldering, piercing, we even made our own pins and hinges for brooches and were told that we could buy readymade findings once we had learnt how to make our own from scratch! I currently do a mix of both depending on what I making.
Sculpting has always been my favourite way to create, whether huge room filling pieces or tiny sculptures. So, discovering precious metal clay was a game changer for me, as now I can really put to use and combine my Silversmithing and Jewellery knowledge with everything I know about ceramics, mixed media and sculpture.
Running my own business, means that I am able to utilise pretty much the entirety of my education: from GCSE Art, through my A’ levels in 3D Studies Mixed media, Ceramics and Photography, to my Art Foundation Course and BA (Hons) in Three-Dimensional Design Silversmithing and Jewellery. Even my PGCE in Art and Masters in Education, along with all the knowledge and skills gained as a teacher, from creative processes to theoretical understandings everything has been so useful as a small business owner and maker and I continue to work on this strong foundation of learning.
Although I have an A’ level in Photography and I studied it as part of my degree, my photography skills are still a mixed bag. I have considered outsourcing my product photography, although after a trial I decided that really, only I can produce truly authentic images of my work, even if that means the pictures aren’t always as great as my products! I am however lucky enough to be in an industry that embraces collaboration and because of this, I do have a whole range of fantastic images from a variety of styled shoots and talented photographers; when I use these images, I will always credit the creative so that you can find out who they are too.
I am always developing ideas and learning about new materials and processes, whether that is something to help me with running my own business or making a new creation. I’m happy to embrace a challenge and continually looking forward to my next enquiry or bespoke commission, I also hope to run CRZyBest workshops in the near future!
So, please get in touch if you have an idea for me!