The Art of Living by Making Art

Jewellery inspired by nature and made by hand.
How I make it, why I make it, the challenges I face and the successes that come my way.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Calling all art students

Once a year I get asked to return to the school where I studied jewellery-making - Kootenay School of the Arts - to give a slide show and talk to the students about moving from being an art student to being an art business owner. As April is just about upon us and students will be graduating in a few weeks I thought I'd share with you my top ten tips on this subject.

  1. Work hard.

  2. Establish a routine of regular working hours, tell everyone you know, repeat it continually.

  3. Buy a camera, learn how to use it and make a photo booth for your work.

  4. Start selling locally, move further afield as you become experienced.

  5. Try different things - you won't know if it works until you try it.

  6. Book-keeping - do your own, then you'll know what is coming in and what is going out.

  7. Artistic work feeds commercial work - do both if you can.

  8. Be reliable and nice with everyone - customers, gallery owners, suppliers etc

  9. Show off your art - wear you own handmade jewellery, clothing, accessories.

  10. When you can afford it, go to a workshop or conference, for creative renewal and networking.

I have tried my best to do all of these things and my hand-made jewellery business will be 12 years old this year. Here's a photo of a brooch I made in my early years - Oak Leaf in sterling silver, 14k gold and acrylic.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Enamel and silver buttons

A little taste of what I have been working on lately - some functional silver and enamel buttons. Most of them are constructed with both fine and sterling silver. I use the fine silver if possible for the enamelled parts and then the sterling for strength of construction. This palette of enamel colours always seems to fire easily and without problems, and I love these shades.

Ever since I was about eleven years old and picked up an old tin of buttons at a jumble sale I have always had a liking for these functional but pretty things. After I learned that buttons were originally purely for decoration, essentially sewn on brooches - buttonholes weren't invented until later - I had a resurgence of interest in them and decided to make some of my own.

Maybe it is because I am working in enamel a lot now, but I keep finding more things to do with enamelling - organisations, jewellers, museums, exhibitions and so on. I just joined Grains of Glass - have a look at their site, there is link to it on my side bar. Perhaps we are at the start of a new blossoming in the art of enamelling? I hope so, Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Exhibiting Work

See what happens when you make a resolution to do more exhibition work...blogs get neglected! I do have that smug feeling of well-being now, having accomplished what I had on my to do list - start a whole new body of work and complete two new exhibition pieces. Something had to give as I said in my last post way back in January, and it turned out to be this blog!
As far an entering exhibitions I would encourage anyone to do so - it is a learning experience. Here are some things that I have learned from exhibiting my work in the past:
  • Making exhibition work is very different from making production work for me, no time and cost restraints, very freeing, but also very demanding as there is no excuse for mediocrity.
  • Working to an unbendable deadline - find out if you work well under last minute pressure.
  • Working with a group - can you be part of a team putting on the show together, can you take instruction from the group leader?
  • Solo show - will you crumble under the pressure of doing it all yourself or is this your dream?
  • Can you handle the picky details of labelling all your packaging materials, giving precise instructions on how to display your work, handing over your work to others to display?
  • Will you be miffed if the image of your work you submitted is not chosen for the show poster?
  • Will you enjoy the opening party or do you hate these kind of events - too many big egos?
  • What will you do with your unsold exhition pieces?
Lots to ponder. Meanwhile if you live in the Kootenays come along to Connections Materialized at the Kootenay Gallery in Castlegar March 11 to April 24. Come to the opening party on March 11 at 7pm.

Beachcomber in sterling silver and found objects