|Heidi Kingman, My Bead Therapy|
About 4 and a half years ago I was invited to a home party in my neighborhood and learned that my next door neighbor, Lisa, made jewelry with natural semi-precious gemstones. I was really smitten with the stones. She invited me over to “play in her beads.” As soon as I ran my hands through that first bin of stones, I was hooked!
Do you remember the first piece you ever made?
I do! That first day I made a multi-layer treasure-style necklace with a broken shard of carved jade and mixed stones that I dug for in what became known as the “beetle box.” The box of beads was all the mixed up “extras” that were left over after Lisa made her beautifully coordinated pieces. As I was digging through it, I reached for an interesting mottled looking bead (it looked like brown snowflake jasper) and discovered that it was some sort of beetle carapace that had probably been accidentally strung onto a strand of beads. It sure didn’t look like anything native! Anyway, I laid out an eclectic medley of gemstones, glass, and silver beads. I then made a wiggly bail for the jade shard out of a headpin (my first “wire work!”) and strung it all together. Lisa showed me how to use the crimp tubes and crimping pliers to finish it off. So, the fact that I have now become entirely obsessed with jewelry design is basically all Lisa’s fault! (Well, maybe a bit that beetle’s fault, too!)
|Heidi Kingman's First Design|
Most of the time I just get an idea of a technique I want to try, or pick up a stone I want to wrap or use, and just see where it takes me. My designs have often built upon each other since new ideas or ways of doing things occur to me as I go. Sometimes I will have things that have ended up next to each other on my desk – combinations of beads, for example – and think, “ooo – that looks cool!” Very rarely I will actually sketch things out to come up with a design. It is usually when it’s a custom piece and I want the client to pick which general style/design they like best. Not everyone can visualize what I am trying to describe in words, so pictures are much better!
When people start doing their craft/art, they tend to try a lot of different things before settling down to something that resonates with them. How has your work changed since you began?
I have been doing something artsy since I could hold a crayon. Drawing, sculpting in clay, painting, crochet, scrapbooking, photography – you name it, chances are I’ve tried it. Once upon a time I was even a Graphic Arts major. But jewelry was different. It really became a compulsion from the beginning. I don’t know how to describe it really, except that maybe because it incorporates so many of the skills I’ve used in all of those other areas, it just never gets old for me. It is an absolutely endless medium. I basically started with simple stringing … well, actually my designs were always really detailed and complex (even when simple probably would have been better!). Now I am totally smitten by all things metal and wire, and am starting to pull my love of stones, pearls, and multi-media materials back into my metalwork. And I just bought a torch a few weeks ago … oh, the possibilities!
|Tribal Cuff Multi-Stone Bracelet|
I am inspired by old architectural elements like wrought iron, things in the garden, animals, graphic design prints, and even color combinations I see in furniture catalogs. Often I see something that I wonder if I can “recreate” in metal, wire, and beads. I loved the one sculpture class I took in college. I think sometimes when I am making jewelry I am really making mini “sculptures” that happen to also be worn as jewelry.
Can you tell us about some important goals you have achieved with your work?
This is all still so new for me that nearly everything I am doing is a work in progress! I am learning to take better photos of my jewelry, but I still think there is lots of room for improvement. I am also starting to settle into a more defined “voice” or “style” to my work – though I haven’t figured out how to describe it! I think that would sure help. And I am slowly seeing a teensy uptick in sales to people other than my close friends and family – so my designs are getting out there. I have now even made three international sales!
|Garden Birdhouse Necklace|
Oh, this is a hard one for me. I have met so many incredibly talented artisans over the last couple of years through online social sites, the Weekend with the Wiremasters classes I attended a couple of years ago (the only classes I’ve taken, so far), my participation in Lori Anderson’s 5th Bead Soup Blog Party, and now The Artisan Group. I can probably more easily list the styles of art that speak to me most: macro photography and paintings of plants and flowers, architectural elements and photos of old ruins, wrought iron, and Japanese architecture and interior design, Japanese paintings of landscapes and trees, Talavera pottery, and mid-century poster art. I think the common denominators are the emphasis on lines, graphics, and color, and a good dose of roughened edges where the artist’s “hands” are visible. To me, the beauty in these styles is the honest nature, the detail, and the celebration of “imperfection.”
Any goals for the future you would like to share?
I’ve been meeting my little short-term goals – like selling enough to keep my studio stocked with enough wire, sheet metal, beads and tools to continue to expand my skills. Now I would like to move toward my mid-term goal of bringing in some extra money that I can use to enable my kids to do some of the extracurricular activities they dream about, and to put some money aside to grow a college nest egg for each of them. Then in the long-run, I would love my jewelry biz to give my hubby and I the excuse to travel around the country to various large art festivals (nearby fantastic golf courses, I’m told) and supplement our retirement that way! The sky-high dream? I would love to own a B&B home/studio where I can host jewelry-making retreats with visiting artisan jewelry instructors. That would be awesome!
|Couture Suede Jasper Happiness Watch|
I really don’t know what spare time is! I work fulltime as an attorney. I have three little kids and an enormously patient, but busy, hubby. And now in the last 5 years since I’ve been making jewelry, I’ve suddenly added jewelry design, blogging, social networking, website design/maintaining (from a template), and loads of learning about both the artistic and business side of things. Somehow I do manage to still get out and garden, cook, dabble in photography, etc. I just don’t sleep much.
If you are displaying or selling your craft/art? Where?
Currently I have shop on ArtFire and I also take custom orders on my main website, www.mybeadtherapy.com. I try to do a couple of art shows a year, also. I’m waiting to hear what happens with this year’s applications. I would love to have my pieces carried in boutiques and galleries again, too. The economy has been especially tough on small shops, so the accounts I had faded away.
If you sell online or at physical store. How many hours per week to you spend in the creative side versus the business side?
I work full-time during the week. So I try to spend a few hours a week during the evenings on computer-type activities (social media, applications, shop updates, blog, etc.) and then I tend to squeeze in studio time weekend-warrior style. I am usually up until the wee hours on Friday and Saturday nights because it is really my only time to totally immerse myself and be free of distractions. I know if I could devote more time to my biz, it would likely thrive at a much faster pace. It’s a constant source of frustration for me because I am just one of those people that wants to put all of myself into everything I do – which means between family, work, and my micro-biz, I’m pretty well maxed out!
|Wire Weave Bicolor Sterling Spiral Column Earrings|
Join forums or teams or support groups with people who are at all levels of the spectrum from beginners to experts. You will learn more than I can even list here. I have been completely blown away by the support, guidance, and encouragement I’ve found in The Artisan Group. It is honestly beyond belief and I am ever so grateful and honored to have been accepted into such an outstanding group of talented and generous people.
Besides that, I guess I would say try to ignore that naysayer in your head. Take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other. Baby steps. Just set your goals and move forward. It’s not a race, so whatever pace works for you is just fine.
*****Thank you so much Heidi!!! Be sure to check out Heidi's "Wearable Art" at her sites below!