> When and how did you first become interested in crafting? How long have you been creating your chosen craft?
I've been interested in crafting and making art since I was very young. My father spent the early part of his career as a chemist for a small artists' supply company in Chicago. He helped to formulate their paints and other products. Sometimes, he was allowed to bring home damaged or imperfect products, so my first exposure to making arts and crafts was playing around with professional art supplies like oil pastels, sketch pads, brushes, oil paints and watercolors. Both of my parents are also very DIY around the house, and I picked up that habit pretty young. So I would try to make things I saw for myself. I learned to crochet and sew in grade school, and did a little knitting, and I took a week-long jewelry course in high school, but I didn't really start making jewelry until I was in college and had a friend who made her own jewelry. I liked the idea of making one of a kind pieces for myself, and once I visited my first bead store I was really hooked.
> What are your crafting influences?
I make jewelry a lot like I make art. I start with the materials, play around with them, and start to build pieces organically from what the materials bring to mind. I tend to fall in love with materials, and I'll get really involved and obsessive about a material or technique until I eventually move on to something else and build on that earlier experience. Most of my influences come from the natural world, but I'm also a big reader and a movie buff. So if I see a photo or movie that just blows me away or fall in love with a historical period or style I'm reading about, then it will stick with me and will influence my palette and my design at some point.
> Does anyone in your family do a similar craft?
Several of my siblings are talented at drawing and painting, but don't really pursue it much. My older sister can knit and sew like a professional, and we're pretty much all hobby photographers as well. An appreciation for the arts and for crafting is a longstanding tradition in my family. My grandfather would write poetry and read it at family gatherings, and my mother wins ribbons for her flower arrangements. But there is also a very strong tech/geek strain going on, and my entire family ended up choosing engineering or accounting as a profession. Except for me. I came close, but I escaped from a chemical engineering degree in my sophomore year of college and never looked back. LOL
> What kinds of places have you displayed your craft in your life?
I've exhibited paintings and photos in the past, but ArtFire is really the first time I've displayed my jewelry other than wearing it myself. It's been a bit of a switch from thinking about it as purely a personal artistic expression to thinking about designing for sale.
> What else do you do besides create these beautiful pieces?
I usually have a day job, although I'm currently unemployed. I've worked in graphic arts, taught writing, and more recently did prepress work in the printing industry. I'm currently looking for work as a technical writer.
> What is your favorite piece that you have created so far? Why did you make that piece? What does it take to create pieces like that?
My favorite piece of jewelry is usually the last one I've done. I learn something new with every piece I make. I really get excited about creating jewelry when it represents a new skill or involves materials I love. I also have a bad habit of choosing techniques which will challenge me the most, so sometimes I try my patience with my own physical limitations.
> What is special about your pieces?
I think I have an interesting and distinctive color palette. Few colors scare me, and I like to put colors and materials together in surprising combinations. At this point, I would guess that whatever "style" my jewelry has is a natural extension of my artwork and my personal taste. If you look at the preoccupations of my photography, you'll understand the way the jewelry functions for me. When I had the jewelry and photography together in one store, it was easy to combine because you could clearly see the connections in the work. I like to photograph my jewelry in combination with my art, and I have used my art as an element in my personal jewelry in the past. I would expect that more of that will happen in the future as I make more one of a kind jewelry for sale.
> What makes this kind of craft "good" to you?
A successful piece of handmade jewelry is a small work of art. If you're going to craft jewelry by hand, it should show your viewpoint and your sensibility as an artist. A skilled craftsman is capable of making something that is technically perfect but nonetheless shows his/her personality in the choice of materials and how they're handled. I'm also a sucker for pieces that show the artist's hand at work, that don't look manufactured and may have an imperfect, artisanal feel to them. That is the kind of jewelry I aspire to make.
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