Part of being a designer in The Redress Raleigh Fashion show included an interview, which goes into some depth about my designs, design process, and other aspects of being a wearable art designer. Please read on and enjoy…
What do you enjoy most about the production process?
The production process helps to increase my sense of joy, happiness, and contentment because working with one’s hands in general is both therapeutic and spiritual! When I use my hands to create beautiful pieces of wearable art, it significantly enhances my spiritual experience! One aspect of spirituality is living in the moment or being present in the moment. Designing and making beautiful pieces of wearable art increases one’s sense of being in the moment because it entails a focus on one bead at a time, or concentrating on one aspect of a technique or design at a time, which increases one’s ability to live in the now throughout life.
Which do you find more challenging and why?
I think I would have to say that the design process is more challenging for the same reason that I love it so much! The design possibilities are infinite so there is so much creativity and freedom in the design process, but at the same time, it is more challenging to make all of the decisions that need to be made to design wearable art! Again, once all the decisions are made, I feel that I have removed the freedom and creativity by designing a piece a certain way! Are beads and beading materials blank slates or not?…that is the question…lol.
What was the inspiration for your upcoming collection?
The inspiration for my upcoming collection comes from all of the ways that I love to challenge myself, including again learning new techniques, enhancing my skills, and thinking outside the box! Sometimes these types of inspiration come from other artists. For instance, I was inspired by Susan Lenart Kazmer’s project in a magazine through which she hosted a contest and one of the four projects required for the contest was to make a mini lightbulb into a pendant. During the process of making it, I learned new techniques and recycled/upcycled it when I made it into a pendant. During the process of making the “Little Peeps On A Ledge Neklace, which was inspired by one of Mary Hettmansberger’s projects in one of her books, I learned new techniques. Two of my pieces in this collection were inspired by two of Lisa Niven Kelly’s projects, and I learned new techniques and incorporated found objects/unexpected materials into one of them. I learned new techniques and incorporated found objects into my “Lost & Found Necklace,” which includes real watch parts, compasses, and a lock, and I created and incorporated cold connections that look like gears into this necklace as well, which fits the overall steampunk theme of this necklace. Finally, I learned new techniques and incorporated vintage bird house pins into the “Birds and the Bee Bracelet.” The two vintage birdhouse pins is also an example of using materials in unexpected ways or in ways that they were not intended to be used by connecting them to sheet metal instead of wearing them as stand alone pins! In sum, I learned new techniques, enhanced my skills, incorporated found objects, hardware, and other materials that are not typically incorporated into wearable art, repurposed antique/vintage jewelry and/or materials, and/or recycled/upcycled objects like computer parts and dimes into breathtaking pieces of wearable art.
How did you go about selecting the materials for your upcoming collection?
I love to challenge myself in various ways and one of the ways I love to challenge myself is by learning new techniques from other artists and being inspired by other artists to incorporate unexpected materials into my wearable art designs. In addition to being inspired by other artists, I used my design process, if you can call it that, to select the materials for my upcoming collection. I guess it is a process but it is not a very structured or organized process. When I begin to make a new piece, I use the “process” I described above.
What do you hope people will take away from your collection?
I hope that people will perceive my wearable art to be breathtaking, unique, whimsical, bold, fun, creative, and progressive!
How do you incorporate sustainable design practices into your process?
I incorporate sustainable design practices into my process by repurposing vintage materials, using left over wire in my designs, recycling/upcycling materials and found objects that were not meant for jewelry, and using jewelry materials in unexpected ways or ways that they were not meant to be used in jewelry, etc. In sum, I like to challenge myself by transforming everyday objects, found objects, hardware, vintage finds, and objects that are thrown away or recycled through a recycling program into breathtaking pieces of wearable art.
Who are the designers and makers you look up to?
I aspire to designers who include Susan Lenart Kazmer, Mary Hettmansperger, Sharilyn Miller, Lisa Niven Kelly, Brenda Schweder, Kim St. Jean, and Thomas Mann!
How long have you been collecting vintage jewelry items?
I’m not sure how soon after I began making jewelry that it occurred to me to purchase inexpensive finished pieces of antique jewelry and individual pieces, and repurpose the materials. I think the first time it occurred to me, we were on vacation in Mt. Airy and I walked into an antique store where there were a lot of estate pieces of jewelry for sale. When I saw many pieces that had beads in them that I loved, it occurred to me that I could repurpose them. Thereafter, I began to look for antique/vintage pieces in other antique stores, thrift stores, and even the flea market! I actually found the two bird house pins that I converted into charms in my “Birds and the Bee Bracelet” in an antique store!
What’s your favorite jewelry making technique?
There are an infinite number of jewelry making techniques. Some broad categories of techniques include seed bead weaving, stringing, knotting, wire working, metal smithing to name a few. Speaking broadly, I would have to say that wire working and metalsmithing are my favorite techniques overall.
Within each of these broad categories, there are infinite techniques/patterns. For instance, within the world of bead weaving, there are infinite patterns that one can learn/master. Within the world of stringing and knotting, the design possibilities are infinite even though there are not that many techniques per se within the world of stringing and knotting. Within the world of wire working, there are infinite techniques and the design possibilities are infinite! It would be extremely difficult to identify my favorite techniques within the world of wire working. Within the world of metalsmithing, my favorite techniques are cold connecting, which means that there is no heat, like a torch, being used to connect charms or other objects to metal, and fold forming.
What inspired you to show your jewelry on the runway?
It had not occurred to me to show my jewelry on the runway until I met Beth at a book launch party where I was participating as a vendor. She came to my table, looked at my jewelry, I greeted her, and we began talking. She asked me if I would be interested in participating as a designer in the fashion show that she is organizing this year and without hesitation, I said that I would be very interested. I told her that I would be very interested in showing my wearable art on the runway because people compliment me and others who wear my jewelry all the time and I would love to share my passion with the world! They tell me that it is unique, unusual, gorgeous, and that they have not seen it anywhere else, etc. My vision is to empower women, to help them tell their stories through breathtaking pieces of wearable art, and to enhance their strong spiritual foundation, one that enhances their ability to live in the moment.
What will be the overall mood and feel of your collection?
I hope that the overall feel of my collection will be joy, happiness, and creativity. I also hope that it will be perceived as whimsical, bold, fun, and progressive, although I am fully aware that all artwork is open to interpretation. I hope that people will recognize the fact that I think outside the box by seeing that I use materials in ways that they were not designed to be used, I incorporate found objects, hardware, and other materials that were not meant to be incorporated into jewelry, I repurpose antique/vintage jewelry and/or materials, and I recycle/upcycle objects, like aluminum can lids and light bulbs, in ways that are completely unexpected, but still no longer recognizable as aluminum can lids or light bulbs because they have been modified and incorporated into breathtaking pieces of wearable art. In short, I hope that the overall mood of my collection is one of creativity, thinking outside the box, and no rules, etc.
What are Six Tools of the trade you swear by to create your jewelry?
The tools of the trade that I swear by are all of the basic pliers, including chain nose, round nose, flat nose, and bent nose pliers as well as an extremely good pair of wire cutters! Additional tools that I swear by is my dremel tool or any rotary tool to which one can attach a variety of types of bits for metalsmithing! As I continue to learn new techniques or enhance some of my skills, like sawing and enameling, I’m sure that I will add more tools to this list in the future!
What kinds of objects or materials would you like to see incorporated into wearable art? Please leave your comments below.