But Brenda was at BeadFest, not to tote her books, but her newest invention, Now That’s a Jig!...and Brenda has generously joined us for an interview about this amazing tool. Brenda is a super generous soul, very open and inspiring, and her new tool, is equally inspiring to those who tangle with wire. I wandered on up to her booth to see this tool and little did I know that I would be equally inspired!.....
Ba: Hi Brenda! Tell us about yourself!
Br: Hi Barbara! These are the things I am lately: newly 50; mother of an almost-driving teenager and a roller-blading, surfer-dude-looking high school freshman; sick of being a bad cook; loving my job and my art!; can't get enough Robert Downey Jr. and those big, brown eyes (we'll stop there); wishing the mint in my garden would permanently disappear; in a quandry about what real friendship means; and ready to be with my very literal and awesome husband through our sunset years The-Best-Exotic-Magnolia-Hotel-style!
Ba: How did you begin working with steel wire?
Br: I wanted a way to attach found objects to my chest. Or wrist. Or earlobes. One of my teaching mentors, Keith LoBue, works with this quite-mysterious media, and once I got my hands and hammer on it, I wanted in! It meets all the Brenda-requirements for fun, frolic, and frivolity!
Ba: Where did the inspiration for Now That’s a Jig! begin?
Did you experience frustration with conventional jigs?
Br: It began by realizing that although I created a low-tech jig for the Dance a Little (Honeycomb) Jig project in Steel Wire Jewelry, it never once occurred to me that there may be a machined tool out there to help (even though I owned one still in its package, somewhere in my studio). So, I dug it out, opened it up, and started wrangling some steel on it. Within a matter of seconds, I knew conventional jigs wouldn't do the trick for me (or for anyone that didn’t have three or four hands), especially when working steel. Artists and designers deserve tools that work for them. Conventional jigs may work with lighter wires and fiber, but are whimpy “when the gauge gets tough.” Their pegs pop out, and their bases scoot across work surfaces. I wanted to give people a tool that helped, not hindered, the process of creating. So, I invented a jig that would sit-tight on any work surface, fitted with pegs that would stay-put in the holes they were ‘put in’ in the first place.
Ba: Why do you prefer steel wire over other types of metal; sterling, copper or brass?
Br: Ah, Steel Wire-eo! Where for art thou, Steel Wire-eo? Let me count the ways! How about:
- its economic-ability (less than a five-spot for three-and-a-half pounds of 16 gauge goodness)? Or,
- its work-up-ability (it comes to us dead soft for easy handling), but bends and stays wherever it’s put)? Or,
- its forgiving-ability? (steel is a flexible friend . . . who doesn't love to have a second chance at a right angle bend?)? Or,
- its beauty-ability (oooooooo, that earthy luster—prrrrrrr!)? Or,
- its easy to solder-abiiity (uh huh, even fills small gaps!)? Or,
- its strength (muscles hold up to repeated bends)? And, did I say,
- "it’s super-cheap?" Indeed it is!!
Ba: So, will Now That’s a Jig! work with sterling and base metals besides steel?
Br: Absolutely! I recommend separate tools for use with steel, but the NTaJ! jig bed is anodized aluminum and wipes clean with a damp cloth or wipe; and it’s pegs are black-oxidize finished - or stainless steel and wire is wrapped around—not hammered into it. So, the red flags I normally warn against become null and void.
Ba: So what is it made of? What makes Now That's a Jig! so awesome compared to those “other” jigs?
Br: Physically, NTaJ! is constructed of anodized aluminum with its pegs and accessories of black oxide finished- or stainless steel. But, what it’s really “made of” is the stuff that fuels creativity: practicality, versatility and good ol’ authentic honesty and authenticity. I really wanted to provide a tool that works for artists, not one priced to sell. I wanted a tool which, when artists purchase and try to use it, doesn’t end up in a bottom drawer somewhere when it doesn’t fill their needs!
Ba: Is this a tool that both a seasoned metalsmith, as well as a novice, can benefit from?
Br. Just as a great pliers or beautiful hammer work just as well for a novice as a master, the NTaJ! benefits all. It provides a format for versatility and customization for the serious wireworker, and patterns and ideas for beginners and those who want a little dose of instant gratification! What we all have in common is the need to use our hands to create. The process feeds our type, whether we are young or mature at it!
Ba: Tell us about your own path. What motivates you to create?
Br: I am motivated by things. Mundane things. Junky things. Old and broken, and discarded things. Dirty, germy, and matted things. Things exactly as they are. I guess I like to celebrate the ‘thingness’ of things–and life—“As Is.” There is beauty in the way of things, in the mess and age and chipping-away of things.
Bright and shiny and new are alright (we must have a place to begin the
masterpieces) but, torn and worn and patina-ed are the embellishment of living life!
Ba: Do you have any advice for aspiring wireworkers or jewelry artists?
Br: In the words most commonly attributed to Germany Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”
I'll be celebrating my ten-year anniversary of my business in January, and I have been happily making every day of that time. Not long before beginning this love-life, I found myself interviewing for a marketing position with the Ready-Mix Concrete Association in my area. Can you imagine?; how lost was I? But, at that time, I accepted the idea that art doesn't pay the bills—and it didn't at first.
But if you don't start ‘it’ (your 'it,’ whatever 'it' is for you), ‘it’ will never build and grow. Start with just one bud of an idea, made in just one tiny, chiseled-out block of time. Beginning isn’t hard—or even momentous—but it packs an amazing amount of forward energy if you let it!
Ba: Thank you Brenda for joining us at Love My Art Jewelry.
Br: Thank YOU, Barbara! It is an honor to be featured in this way. Art Jewelry is the best-est!!
Wait! Brenda is offering a super special giveaway for LMAJ readers....
One each of:
- Steel Wire Jewelry (autographed copy)
- 1 package 28 gauge steel wire
- 1 package 24 "
- 1 package 22 "
- 1 coil 20 "
- 1 coil 18 "
- 1 spool 16 "
- 1 spool 14 "
- 1 rod 12
- 1 rod 10
- 1 2-pack steel wool (00)
- 1 2-pack wire brushes (steel and brass)
- 1 sample Renaissance wax
- 1 cotton application cloth
- 1 white charcoal pencil (for marking dark steel)
- 20% coupon for the NTaJ! Basic Jig Kit
To win this AMAZING gift, please leave a comment that you did one or more the following (each for one separate entry):
*liked LMAJ on Facebook
and a separate entry for blogging, twittering, and sharing if you do so in a comment here.
Comment through October 14, 2012 at 12 AM EST. and we'll announce a winner on Monday, October 15!
Visit Brenda's Facebook here.
Visit NTaJ's FB here.