As an active member of the Jewelry Artisans Community, an online forum that encourages, supports and shares information with artisans who make hand crafted jewelry, I am surrounded by amazing jewelry artists. The scope of their work includes metalsmithing, wire wrapping, chain maille, sculpting with polymer clay, working with itty bitty seed beads and beyond. They are an extremely talented group of people and it is an honor to be associated with them. It is because of their talent that I have been inspired to share their work by through these blog features.
I am very pleased to feature Karen of Echoes of Ela as Artist of the Month. Karin's beautiful work includes techniques such as wire wrapping, wire weaving and chain maile.
Where do you live?
I live in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio.
How long have you been making jewelry?
I have been creating jewelry since I was a little girl. Some early memories include weaving bracelets on my friend's bead loom and stringing beads. I became more serious about it 4 or 5 years ago, because I needed a creative outlet.
What type of training/education have you had in making and designing jewelry?
I have taken a couple of classes at the local arts center, one in wire wrapping, the other in silver soldering. Other than that I am essentially self taught, through reading every book our library has on jewelry making and internet resources.
What are your favorite jewelry making techniques?
After stringing beads for a while, I took a wire wrapping class, which got me started on wanting to explore different wire working techniques like wire weaving and chain maille. I love wire weaving for the organic look and chain maille, because I have always had tremendous appreciation for ancient and timeless designs that I that have endured through the ages.
Is there a technique you would like to learn?
Oh, absolutely! My goal for the near future is to expand my metal smithing skills and learn all about cold connections, so I can bring some of the designs rattling around my head to life:)
Do you do other types of crafts or art?
Currently I am pretty focused on my jewelry, but I also knit, crochet, do needle point, sew. I love repainting furniture to give it new life and I love to garden. Well, actually, I love eating my home grown veggies and looking at flowers in my garden, but not the work.
Who or what inspires you?
I am predominantly inspired by nature. Looking at the various shapes and color combinations that nature has to offer – you cannot go wrong. But I am also drawn to architectural influences, clean lines. It shows in my creations. Some of my designs have a distinct organic vibe in form and material, others are very minimal and restrained, sleek and unfussy.
Do you have any favorite jewelry designers?
I would say at present my favorite designers are the instructors who taught my recent silver soldering class, a local husband and wife team Sandra Piciano-Brand and David Brand whose designs embody everything I love. Do yourself a favor and stop by their website at Mythic Silver Jewelry Design. I am so delighted to be able to learn from such amazing artists!
What do you do besides jewelry making?
After spending many years working in a fast paced, high stress career in the medical field, I quit my job seven years ago to stay home with my two boys. My younger son has autism and requires a great deal of specialized care. I am proud to be a Mom and domestic “goddess”. I love to fix things up around the house, go on long hikes, go camping with my family.
Do you sell your jewelry? If yes, where?
I have an Etsy shop, Echoes of Ela, do a couple of trunk shows out of my home each year and sell to friends. I am working on getting more sales exposure in a couple of local store and I am considering selling at arts and crafts fairs.
What are your goals for your business/jewelry making?
I have been trying to sell my creations long enough to know that this is anything but a get rich quick scheme. I want to continue to grow as an artist, develop my skills and make a name for myself here in the local arts community, which is a very vibrant one. I would like to teach jewelry making some time down the road. Jewelry is a passion for me and I want to give others the opportunity to share that passion with me!
Do you donate any profit to charity? Which one? Why is it important to you?
I don't, currently, because I don't make any profit! When I do, I would like to donate a portion of it to an organization called 4PawsforAbility.org. It is a charity that trains service dogs for children with autism, seizures, diabetes, physical disabilities and Veteran's with PTSD. It is the the organization where my son got his service dog Rascal.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself or your jewelry?
Creating my jewelry, learning new skills and working with different materials has had a very positive influence on my life. What began as a simple creative outlet, a hobby to allow me to express myself, has turned into a true passion for me.
Jewelry making has become so much more to me than a reprieve from the daily demands of raising an autistic child. It turned out to be a life line for me when faced with my husband's cancer diagnosis two years ago. Initially, when we found out, I thought I would never make another piece of jewelry. But I slowly began to realize the process of trying to figure out a challenging chain maille weave was a wonderful way to distract my mind from paralyzing fear. I opened my Etsy shop during one of the darkest times of my life – probably not ideal, but I am grateful that I did, because it kept my mind too occupied to drift into those shadows for too long! He is better now, cancer free and now I am determined to live life and become the artist I was always meant to be.
Thank you so much for the wonderful opportunity to be featured on your blog Dawn!
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Thank you, Karin, for taking the time to answer my questions - you've had quite a journey and I'm so happy that things are looking up for you and your family.