Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family/friends. What do you do for fun? Are you married, for how long, how many children do you have?
My spouse of 30 years David is wonderfully supportive of my addiction to hobbies, crafts and creating artwork. Our daughter Kate, who lives near us in a full time health care residence because she is now totally disabled, visits us for holidays and special events like her birthday. David and I spend most of our free time together with our young Airedale Terrier Amy (http://amytheairedale.blogspot.com) at our home in Oshawa, Ontario.
I am Team Leader and Founder of the Etsy Social Marketing Artisans (eSMArts) street team and yahoo group where I have a small family of online friends. We’re all independent artisans who feature our items for sale on Etsy and who got together for support, inspiration, friendship and connection.
At eSMArts we’re trying to develop strong social marketing ties with one another in order to drive web traffic to our sales sites. We’ve each donated creations to our team store (http://esmarts.etsy.com) where all sales support worthy causes. Visit our blog for more info on my talented friends: http://esmarts.blogspot.com!
In my free time I love the outdoors, entertaining, cooking, travel, music, movies, TV, spectator sports, computer games, golf, gardening, cycling and well just making things!
What inspired you to get started making this gorgeous jewelry? How old were you when you started?
As a child I was instantly drawn to the beauty of shiny and pretty stones. I kept special boxes of my lovelies as soon as I could walk. I loved to play with just about any type of crafty endeavour or toy, so when I was 8 or 9 I got a rock tumbler that I was obsessed with. I polished nuggets, made primitive jewelry and kept an extensive rock collection. I guess I’ve never met a gemstone, crystal or rock that I didn’t like.
In my teens I borrowed cookbooks from mom to learn how to bake and cook. Mom (an oil artist) dabbled in virtually every medium so I read with interest her library books to learn basics of embroidery, knitting, crochet, crewel and the like. When mom learned how to sew so did I, and throughout high school I often made my dresses and pant sets (this WAS the early 70s!). My dad (a jazz musician by night) stressed musical training for all three of us kids, so when I wasn’t making something I was likely practicing the piano or flute.
Throughout my 20s and 30s I kept busy with work, home, family, university etc. and only returned to my first love, gemstones, in 2002. I started beading only because I wanted designer level shinies at a fraction of the retail price. I receive compliments on my jewelry continually so in 2003 I decided to display a few showcases of my creations in my retail bicycle shop (http://oraclecycleworks.com). Positive feedback from customers helped me begin to take jewelry making seriously.
What are your favorite materials to use when making jewelry?
I enjoy making pretty things and unique adornments using all gems, metals and materials. But unlike some artisan jewelry makers I started working with precious stones and sterling silver wire because I began making items for myself to wear for work, play and formal. So my creations had to look professional. I have to admit that I am hooked on Thai Hilltribe silver and tend to use it in almost all my silver creations.
I am self taught, but have continually been amazed at the amount of good free information there is on the web regarding handmade jewelry techniques.
I now find it easier to work with gold wire than its silver counterpart although I am very fond of coiling effects using oxidized silver wire. I no longer do any pure bead stringing as stringing bores me to tears. Just about any other technique or genre intrigues me and keeps me interested. I’ve never made the same design twice as repetition does bore me. I enjoy the challenge of fresh, new designs and custom commissions the most.
I’m enjoying PMC and really get a kick out of creating mens/unisex creations, bead crochet (which I rarely have time for these days) as well as creating ornate bridal jewelry and bridal hair accessories too.
Who inspires your designs now? Who do you look up to in the jewelry-making world?
Linda Trent’s clean crisp lines were my first inspiration on Etsy and her talents prompted me to make the leap into online jewelry marketing. Passementerie first caught my eye when she had an Etsy shop and Magdalena Borejko is a huge favorite of mine too. I recently began to follow Iza Malczyk’s wire work and no doubt over time my own style will evolve as some combination of all these. I follow the work of several emerging design houses.
What techniques would you like to master in the future?
I strive to hone my wire working skills until they are the absolute best they can be (this may be a life sentence!). I plan to set up a glass studio in the near future and to develop solid glassmaking skills. I am a huge fan of lampwork glass and borosilicate beads. Metalsmithing is also near and dear to my heart. I know silversmithing basics but will take a good silversmithing course or two. The designer in me dreams of venturing into the world of fabricated pieces.
Do you have any advice for new jewelry-makers and people trying to get an Etsy business going?
Great photographs are the key to online sales so learn how to take them – invest in photo training and good equipment. Regardless of your current skill level, strive for perfection. Develop a few signature pieces using the best materials you can afford. Study your favorite artists and their techniques. Take courses if necessary or buy tutorials but hone your skills. Above all, market yourself feverishly and shamelessly both on Etsy and off. And don’t forget to smile – enjoy the journey!
Where can we find you?
My flagship online outlet is called Gahooletree (http://gahooletree.etsy.com) where I feature luxe gemstone and pearl formal and bridal creations. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We recently opened SassyDLite (http://sassydlite.etsy.com) an off price discount outlet for sale items where I can also experiment with offering fun and casual designs created at times with base metals (copper, brass) and more affordable materials like semi precious stones, swarovski crystals and shell pearls.
I offer studio overstock of gems and findings for sale online at Gahooletree Supplies (http://gahooletreesupplies.etsy.com) and there’s plenty more information about my jewelry business in general at http://oraclegemdesigns.com, http://gahooletreedesigns.blogspot and http://sassydlite.blogspot.com.