Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Fab Interview and a Fab Winner....

by MaryAnn Carroll

Isn't that just fabulous?

The giveaway winner of these gorgeous earrings created by our own Izzy will be announced at the end of this interview......

Meet my friend Jean A. Wells.  Not only is she a terrific designer, but she is an awesome person.  I've gotten to know Jean through my interactions on Etsy.  Jean is a lawyer by day, a mother of three rotweillers and designs, creates, designs, creates, etc. the rest of the time.  I think that you will enjoy getting to know Jean as much as I have.  She is an intelligent person with a GREAT sense of humor :o)

And....if you are lovin' what your seein' then why not check out Jean's Shop for more of her creations.

Would you please tell us how you first got interested in creating jewelry?

I have always enjoyed making things. My father was an engineer and since he wanted a boy when I was born, I spent a lot of time with him as a child. Dad was a talented inventor and I guess a lot of that rubbed off on me. Over my lifetime, I have enjoyed crochet which I learned from my Mother, stained glass, ceramics, and remodeling old houses. I even enjoyed training and breeding Rottweilers before I went to law school and exhibited them in AKC sanctioned dog shows. It never occurred to me that I could make things for a living and instead chose to go to college where I completed a degree in Political Science and then law school. I completed my Juris Doctor in 1993 and an LLM in Taxation in 1994. I have practiced law as a sole practitioner since then. Nothing artsy at all about my formal education. In fact, I don't even know how to speak the language of the arts. My art vocabulary consists mainly of “oh that's pretty” or “I like that.” It's pretty sad really. My interest in jewelry began when I acquired a jewelry magazine in a stack of other magazines at a yard sale about six years ago. I was just drawn to it. It seemed to be a way that I could express things that I had never been able to express in my other interests.

I see that you use many handmade components in your work, what was it that attracted you to handmade?

Handmade just seemed to speak to me so much more so than commercially made components, but at first I didn't know about etsy and had no idea how to go about finding them. Finding etsy was like waking up on Christmas morning. It never ceases to amaze me the talent represented there. Some of the jewelry designers make me feel like all I do is string beads on string. From the time I first became interested in making jewelry, I have gravitated toward making jewelry with more complex construction. Handmade components has opened up so many new construction possibilities. I am always giddy when I figure out a new way to do something.

If you don't already, have you considered making your own handmade components/beads in your jewelry?

I have begun to play with polymer clay simply because it was much easier to acquire a toaster oven than it is to acquire a kiln. I have also been learning more about wire manipulation for making wire components. I am putting together a work shop and hope to be doing more and more of my own components in the future. Everyone else seems to do it so much better than I do though and with the investment required in equipment and materials, it seems to be more cost effective for me to buy from other artists that have already mastered the various mediums for use in my work. But, time will tell.

When creating, are there certain colors that you find that you gravitate more toward and why?

Absolutely. I am drawn to natural colors of the earth, sedona red and mustard yellows being the leaders among my current favorites. I also love dusty pinks and blues; And, colors of the ocean. And orange. And green. And gold. And denim.
I love working with gemstones and beautiful Czech glass, especially some of the new picasso finishes that area available. My favorites gemstones are turquoise, carnelian and jaspers.

You've been selling on Etsy for sometime now. What has your experience been so far?

I have been selling on etsy for about 14 months now. For the most part, it has been a very positive experience. I have “met” some very nice artisans that have been more than willing to share information and advice. Others not so much, but I try not to dwell on the negatives and concentrate more on the positive. Etsy provides an excellent forum to showcase and sell handmade goods of all kinds, not just jewelry. There are so many talented artisans on Etsy, that I am honored and a bit flabbergasted when someone chooses to spend their dollars in my shop. My clients are very important to me and I try to give each one of them the VIP treatment. I attempt to exceed expectations with each and every sales transaction.

Self-made jewelry is very competitive these days, are there any tips that you could share from what you have learned in terms of promoting your work?

Self promotion is my weakest area. I really don't do anything to self-promote. Blogs have become very popular these days and while I don't have a blog (yet) there are a few that I love to follow. I really like the ones that use their blogs as a way to journal their own artistic journey. I especially enjoy the ones that are so transparent about their creative process. It is fascinating to me to see how the creative mind works and so many times I can relate but wouldn't have been able to put it into words myself. The next stage in my artistic development needs to be exploring ways to self promote. Perhaps I still start with a blog.

If you haven't already, have you considered submitting to any of the popular bead magazines?

I really had no desire to submit to any magazines, but a few fellow etsians kept encouraging me and I did make a submission for the Winter issue of Stringing Magazine and have learned that a bracelet will be published in the Winter issue. I used a stoneware bracelet amulet by Karen Totten with Wild Horse Jasper and Pyrite gemstones and finished it with my own copper wireworking. We are both quite excited about it and I am thrilled to have been successful on my first attempt. I certainly found the entire exercise very challenging, but one that I look forward to tackling again in the future.

If you could share one thing with our readers in terms of creating and/or selling/buying, what might that be?

I would like to speak a moment on what seems to be my creative process so far. Like I said, I do not speak the language of the arts so bear with me. I seem to be inspired mostly from the handmade components that I have in my stash (which is huge by the way). I will choose a starting piece, maybe a pendant or some nice connectors or even just a new strand of beads. I will pull beads, wires, cords, spacers, and other materials that would look nice with the starting piece and design from there. I have a tendency to want to throw in a bit of everything and have to constantly be editing out in order to avoid ending up with a mess. I have been acquiring jewelry components for several years now and about a year ago I asked my fifteen year old nephew to help me to organize all of it into one space. After we had built shelves and moved tub after tub of supplies, my nephew told me that he had a suggestion on how I could cut down on the stuff that I had. He said that when I wanted to make a piece of jewelry, say a necklace, that I should draw it out and then just buy what I needed to make that necklace. That way, he said, I wouldn't end up with all the beads and wire and other stuff. Isn't that cute, he's so clueless. 

Well, I don't seem to create that way. With my way of creating, I need to already have all the stuff that I need to go with the piece I started with. That means I have a huge investment in my collection of jewelry components. And, I love it all. Probably not the best way to approach it, since I no doubt have valuable space filled with things I will never use, but for now, I don't know what to do about it. In addition to that, I have been an antique button collector for the last ten years. I really love it when the buttons can be incorporated into the jewelry although as a button collection, I refuse to damage a button to incorporate it into jewelry. I have quite a few beautiful antique glass buttons that are missing their shanks. They are perfect to use as they can be combined with brass filigree or other creative ways to use them. Having my supplies organized so that they are all easily accessible is a dream of mine. But, for right now, my studio (aka my dining room table) makes that a real challenge. I live in a 1920s Arts and Crafts airplane bungalow which is only about 1000 square feet of living space. I also live in this small house with my husband and three Rottweiler dogs so we live close. You really have to like the people/dogs you live with when you live in such a small space.

Thank-you, Jean...... Very fun as always :o)

On to the next part of our show.....

Our GIVEAWAY winner is......  See if you can guess from this hint.....

She now has something more to add to her bag of goodies ......

Yes, you guessed it, the winner is

N. Markosky


You can contact Izzy through her Etsy Shop with your address:

As always.....
~thanks for reading~



Alice said...

What a great interview! Jean makes fabulous jewelry!

Kartott said...

Jean is an awesome lady and awesome to work with - I am always thrilled and honored when she uses some of my ceramic pieces in her work!

Izzy said...

Wow, Jean's jewelry is amazing!

baglady said...

I loved Jean's interview- I can really relate to how she creates-I like to have lots of choices too before I start so when I create, I have all the possibilities open to me. I am so excited to win the beautiful earrings from Jean- I love them and can't wait to wear them. Thank you so much for the wonderful interview and give away.

SummersStudio said...

This is a lovely interview. Thank you Jean for sharing your thoughts with us. And I've really enjoyed seeing your beautiful work.

mairedodd said...

great interview jean and maryann... thank you so much... i really love that leather flower... and congratulations to bag lady for winning izzy's earrings...

Kelli said...

Great interview!! I too Jean, must create from a "stash"... and apparently it must be a LARGE stash!! :) A friend of mine also commented once that I should use up what I have before buying more... HUH??? I'm not sure I could work that way!!!! Even when I make my own components, I don't have an end idea for them. I create them, stash them, then let them inspire creation later! Love that leather flower!!!

Patty said...

Loved the interview, and love Jean's work. So earthy!

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