How did you first get interested in what you do? My grandfather was a jeweler, and had lapidary equipment at home. When we came to Jacksonville for visits, our beds would be set up in his "lab". He displayed some of his work in a glass-top coffee table, and I remember sitting and gazing at the colorful stones for hours. They were fascinating! I have the first set he made for my grandmother; she set it aside for me before she died.
I started making and selling jewelry myself in middle school. My mom made Christmons for the church Christmas tree out of pearls, wire and other beads, so I picked up a few and started making things. I bought my own findings, and using materials like sequins, pearls, watercolor paper, paint and sealer, I started an inventory of earrings that I sold to my friends for $3 per pair. My next experience with Jewelry was in college, where I was a graphic arts major. I took a great 101 class, where we learned metal work and design elements. We did formed and soldered pieces, learned how to mount stones, and used blow torches. It was great fun! I still have a couple of pieces from that class.
For me, beading was like scrapbooking. I avoided both (unsuccessfully) like the plague because I knew I'd get in over my head. I was a Creative Memories consultant for a few years but found it hard to balance holding classes, home schooling my 4 kids, keeping up with their travel sports, and being away from my youngest son who will be three in January. Then, my oldest daughter wanted to make a nice bracelet for my mom for Christmas last year, and I decided to take her to the bead store to buy her materials. I almost waited in the car. After buying tools, beads, findings, and instructional stuff, I realized I was hooked. The bracelet was stunning. My mom loved it (she makes jewelry, too), and I was in trouble. My inventory grew as my wallet shrank, and in May, I launched my Etsy site.
Who is your favorite artist? Do I have a favorite artist? Not really. I like most of it, I guess. Renaissance art has always inspired me. I loved my Art history class (except for exams) because I was able to study the panorama of art over the centuries. I like 3D art, sculpture and architecture, photography some modern art. Texture, color, and juxtaposition are what usually catches my eye. I could be described as a visual junkie. Recent graphic trends are very appealing -- I love the grunge floral look. I like Mary Englebreit's work for the clean lines and use of color and texture. I suppose that carries over into my jewelry. I choose a focal piece, and then add other colros, and textures for overall effect.
What are your top 5 favorite Etsy shops? Top five Etsy shops? That's a hard one. Since coming to Etsy I've been like Brer Rabbit in the Briar Patch! I spend hours browsing the shops, and am in complete awe of the talent and artistic caliber you can find there. Honestly, I'm a litte overwhelmed by it all. It's humbling, realizing that I'm such a tiny fish in an ocean of awesome-ness.
Five of my favorite shops: (Gosh, only five! That means I have to leave over 300 out!)
1.) My mom: http://beckystreasures.etsy.com (It's still under construction) She makes beautiful stuff, and is enjoying wirewrapping. She makes gorgeous lanyards for people in her office. Hopefully she'll list some of those on Etsy.
2.) My favorite supplier -- http://stoned.etsy.com Sharon is just the nicest person to work with!
3.) http://FlutterBrush.etsy.com -- her designs are whimsical, and the color bursts right out at you! I can see them as scrapbook papers, or bedroom decor, can't you?
4.)http://karensugarmandesigns.etsy.com -- the opulence and astonishing beauty of her jewelry is breathtaking. If you take a peek, make sure you look at her sold items, to. There's a sea shell necklace that will knock your socks off!
5.) There are so many more. Honestly I can't narrow them down. Some local people I do shows with and are on the North Florida Craft Revolution Street Team are 2ifbySea, traceolastreasures, happyshackdesigns, and more. My favorites are public, so you can browse them if you'd like.