Recent developments made me look back to my roots and my early mentors. Time was, I only repaired a little vintage jewelry. Dealing in it quite actively you always get pieces that need a clasp, a stone, a jump ring...a little something.
A lady I cleaned house for had dared me to make button jewelry. I did a bit of that with hot glue and plastic discs, sort of like poker chips. But what really got me motivated was this piece:
Ruth Bon Fleur, a collector of bakelite from the Daytona Beach area of Florida, sent me this spoon brooch she made from broken bits....along with a box full of junk parts. I guess it was late 1988, sometime in 1989.
For some reason, she felt I could make what we then called 'collage jewelry'....and the box of junk was the impetus to get me started.
Well, I thought I'd give it a go....and to this day, I still have the first piece I made with that junk and a bit of my own:
It's a sad little thing, but the fire was lit. Ruth's spoon intrigued me no end....and even the way I took cardboard and covered it with moire taffeta and an old doily still has merit in jewelry making today. Just need to do a better job of it, along with placement of the goodies on top. ;-)
Once you get my attention, I'm the sort of person whose mind goes down every road all at the same time. The ideas bounce off every wall and corner and I can't shut down. I read every book, devouring every photo. I wanted to work in every media (well, except maybe seed beads, LOL). It was so frustrating! No one was teaching silversmithing or metalwork anywhere in our area. The crafts stores offered classes in techniques that were dated and to be honest, really lame. Their perception of jewelry was plastic canvas with yarn threaded through it and a pinback sewed to the back.
I started playing around with papers, laquers, paints and resins. Just the other day when I was cleaning out a drawer, I found these:
I probably made these about three years into the journey, because by then I had professionally made earring cards.
They are earrings made from heavy watercolor paper. First, I made random patterns with a crayon and then colored in the little blocks and sections the scribbles made....sort of like things first graders do in art class. Then I tore the paper into workable pieces, colored the edges with a metallic gold ink pen and then lacquered them with some sort of paper lacquer. Can't remember what it was....it wasn't resin, though.
These were another incarnation of the torn watercolor paper idea.....only this time they *were* resin-topped.
Because this merchandise sold briskly at little table-top shows in local high schools, I quickly got it in my head that I did viable artwork....or that at least, I could, and make a living from it. I knuckled down...did the work, learned literally, on my feet. By 1993 I had a wholesale line and was selling my work to stores.
Those years of wholesaling are what I still consider my college education. I really took a beating. I learned the business terms, how to present and sell, how to get the work out on time, how to make a consistent line that spoke my name. I contacted sales reps and rep groups who carried my little line out to showrooms clear across the country.
Here is how far my artwork had come:
That charm line consisted of brass stampings, some plated, some not.....hand-engraved pieces, mostly brooches....all done in theme. These are sewing and quilting-related themes.
This is my horse brooch with dangling charms:
As you can see from the style number at the bottom, these are photos clipped from one of my wholesale catalogues.
I always loved Mona Lisa!
To this day, we carry Mona Lisa cameos
Nowadays, this pin and earring set would become a necklace and earrings set:
I still love pink bisque and pearl along with a little whimsy....here is a gardener's brooch:
This one was picked up by the Burpee Seed Company catalogue and sold along side the seeds and gardening tools. It was engraved, "Thyme in a Garden". It was a best-seller.
You know those embellished cameos we love to make? Here is an early example...it was in my line:
The little heart at the bottom was a locket.
Here is a nurse's brooch. Just a spoonful of sugar! There's that spoon thing, again.
Cat jewelry was always a sure sell, too. From time to time I still carry this silly cat, but he never seems to do very well! Maybe I need to make a cat jewelry video!
You've seen my video on engraving....if not, here it is:
That whole line was based on pearl buttons, brass stampings, and themes....many of which were portrayed by figural stampings and my engraving. I did all of the engraving on thousands and thousands of pieces. We buffed them out on a huge buffing machine and antiqued and lacquered them by hand.
Eventually there was a team of seven of us, making the line.
The creative world has led me down new paths since those days. We stopped getting together to make the line at the end of 2001, for good. I have few of the pieces still in my possession, but many of my friends still own some of them. Previous to stopping, I had already begun to branch out to larger pieces and one of a kinds, large charm jewelry items, collaged cuffs and assemblage necklaces.
You can see some of that earlier work here:
Humble beginnings, but still quite humble. I may understand and even be able to rudimentarily perform many jewelry making tasks, but I am a master of few. I am still the crazy lady with a hundred new ideas rolling around in my brain.
I love making jewelry.....and I know it's possible to make a living at it, if you want to, bad enough. I have seen many do it, and I myself have done it.
Nowadays, I am most content to search out new product, play and experiment, see what happens to it in my hands....and then report my findings to you!
Here is my You Tube Channel:
and here's the website:
Here is my Ruby Lane, where I sell pieces I have made along with some nifty vintage jewelry:
And of course....our Creative Group at Facebook:
Why don't you come and join us? Consider this your personal invitation! We'll share your journey....and you can count on our support!