Things were going well and she soon decided to follow her heart,
devoting herself to making jewelry full time.
My first blog interview!
Presenting a cozy chat with metalsmith and jewelery artist extraordinaire,
MH: When did you did you fall in love with making jewelry?
EAM: I don’t remember a particular moment, it’s just always been a calling. When I was young, probably around the age of 7, I was completely obsessed with Native American Indian culture. My mom would take me to MJ Designs and let me buy seed beads in all colors. She surprised me one day with a mini bead-weaving loom that allowed me to weave wide beaded necklaces and bracelets. I would sell my wares on our neighborhood street corner, no lemonade stand for me! In addition, I have always been attracted to the organic nature of things and have always collected small pieces of rocks and rusted metal I find on the ground. I never realized that I wanted to incorporate all these organic things until the idea to learn the art of Silversmithing hit me one day out of nowhere! By that evening I was enrolled in the Dallas Craft Guild’s Beginning Silversmithing class.
MH: Do you find a stone you like and design to the stone? Or do you create a design and then search for a stone to best complement that design? Which comes first?
EAM: Honestly? A lot of both! I’m inspired by everything around me, the way a leaf sits where it’s fallen from the tree, ancient beliefs and rituals, shapes and colors I see when I squint my eyes and blur my vision…there really is no special equation for how I work. I carry a sketchbook wherever I go. Sometimes I awake from a dream and get up to sketch out an idea before it slips from my mind in the morning light. Sometimes when I’m at an impasse and searching for a direction I’ll pull out several cabochons that I’m particularly moved by. I then arrange them on a page in my sketchbook and sketch designs around them, to see where the stone leads me.
MH: Have you taken classes, if so where? Have you apprenticed with other jewelry makers? Are you largely self-taught?
EAM: I took about a year of weekly classes on-and-off from the Dallas Craft Guild, where I learned the basics of Silversmithing. During this time I pinched pennies so I could purchase the bare essential tools needed to build a basic studio at home. My wonderful husband built an incredible workbench that is super sturdy. I love him for all the hard work he put into it! Many of the techniques that I currently use I have figured out on my own, by studying books and experimenting. Of course there were (are) many failures and tears, but once I’ve mastered something new a great feeling of accomplishment overrides all that misery. I figured out etching and electroplating by myself and both techniques are used in a new line of work I’ll be releasing in the next few months. I’m currently experimenting with resins to capture delicate organic objects, and will move on to torch firing enamels next year. I’m still such a novice and have so much to learn, but I have discovered that this process of finding my niche/personal style is so satisfying. Every new technique I learn moves me forward on that path, and I believe that I will search for it the rest of my life!
MH: Have you found etsy.com to be an effective way to sell and promote your work? Do you also participate in craft shows? Jewelry shows?
EAM: I found Etsy.com when I was just a few months into my classes at the Craft Guild. I believe it to be effective in many ways! I am eternally grateful for such a place to jump start my business! I’m just now fully understanding what my particular “branding” is, and soon plan to create my own website, in addition to keeping my Etsy store. Etsy can be extremely effective. You do have to be willing to spend a lot of time constantly listing new items, networking, mastering the art of ‘tags’, and updating your photos for maximum appeal. There are thousands of talented people that make jewelry, and it can be difficult to find ways to be seen and stand out. Still, Etsy has been good to me and is a wonderful site if you take a little time to master it. Most of my work has been custom commissions from people who have found me on Etsy! In addition, I have participated in a few small craft shows, and I find them to be a good way to hand out cards and introduce people to my work. Even if they don’t purchase something during the show, they can visit my online store for a later purchase. One of my goals for the next year or two is to work on expanding my jewelry lines, and to be accepted into some of the more serious fine art shows that happen all over the country.
MH: Tell us about “EtsyMetal Teams Monthly Challenge”.
EAM: Oh! These are so much fun ;o) I’m part of a very talented group of Metalsmithing Jewelers that all sell on Etsy. We have our own separate forums and interact as a group to share knowledge, trade jewelry in the annual ‘Secret Santa’ and ‘Charm Swap’, as well as have fun with daily, weekly, and monthly challenges. We inspire and support each other, and these Challenges get our creative juices going. In one of the recent monthly challenges the idea was to create a piece that was inspired by ancient jewelry. You can see what I came up with here. ;o)
The team also has a blog where they post photos of the work for each and every challenge. There are so many! Your readers can check them out here!
MH: I enjoy the stories that accompany each of your pieces. Does the story come first? Or does the story come to you while you are making the piece?
EAM: A story generally comes to me as I’m working on a piece. I typically start with a shape in mind, a theme, or at least a general concept. The story grows and takes shape throughout the creation of the piece. My customers also enjoy the stories behind my pieces, they help to give each one a true character and I think people can relate to that.
MH: Do you take all the photos of your work?
EAM: I do, and this has been a struggle. I’m still learning so much in this area. I actually took a darkroom photography class in college and that has helped, but every day is a new challenge. To make each photo stand out and quickly catch a customer’s eye I like to create a simple scene around each piece. I’m always searching for interesting books, rocks, or textures that I can incorporate into my photos. Throughout this process, I’ve learned a lot about Photoshop! With PS I can adjust colors and lighting so that each shot is the best that it can be. Then each photo must be manipulated to fit within the proper template to upload to Etsy. In the end, I want every aspect of every picture on my site working together to convey my style and complement my jewelry designs.
MH: Do you have any shows or special events coming up that we can tell everyone about?
EAM: I wish I did but currently I’m in a creative mode, forming cohesive lines for my work. In the search for my own style, I’m learning that it helps me to create a body of work around a general concept or design. When that idea wears itself out, I can move on to the next one. My mind is constantly filled with dreams and ideas of pieces I want to create. The hard part is editing it all down, and my current goal is finding the proper direction so that my work isn’t all over the place. Once I’ve shaped my own vision a bit more I plan to enter some of those larger shows we talked about earlier.
Thank you for your interest in my work. Please keep an eye on my blog. I regularly post new work as well as events I’m participating in.