There are some folks who just grab you, the first instant you're exposed to them. My online friend LeAnn Weih at Summers Pottery is like that.
The more I learn about her, the more amazing she is to me. She does pottery, of course, and makes the most wonderful beads and clay ornaments. Like me, she enjoys combining the things she does together, to blend the multiple media to each other. I admire her, can't you tell?
But she also works in metal of all sorts. She's exceptionally talented, and her work has a warm, folk art feeling to it that I love.
Besides the fact that she lives in Texas, and I'm a native Texan myself, I feel an affinity for her.
So when she asked me this question on my blog post a while back, about what people are curious about me and wanted to know, I had to give it lots of thought:
"Lynn, I know you started out as a potter and in other mediums like weaving and fibre as well. Because I started out in a similar way with larger scale work (pottery), I would love to know how and when you made the jump to the small scale of jewelry and components."
It's a kind of long answer, as I've lived a few years and made a few changes along the way! I hope you're interested ....
I studied pottery for several years, intending to be a production potter. Then life happened, as it does to everyone! I had a family started, and with a small baby it was increasingly hard to work in clay. But I craved making things with my hands. I'd always been interested in fiber art, so I switched gears and became a production weaver. The yarn waits for you to return from taking care of children and household much more easily than the wet clay, and doesn't dry out and crack!
I was a production weaver for several years, making wearables and clothing. I did a lot of dyeing of the yarns, and I spun my own custom yarns. A bit distant from what I'm doing now, but it figures into the progression. I still use my dyeing experience to dye the costume pearls, and I do have lots of hand dyed silk cords that I can use in the jewelry.
I believe everything ties together somehow,
down the road.
After some years and seasons of doing the wearables, traveling to do several wholesale shows and retail art shows each year, I got weary of the grind. Being on the road is tough, as most of you know! I stopped doing the shows in 1986, after a life change that made me a single mom, and put the life of a creative behind me for a time. The show equipment was heavy, the solo travel was a challenge. For many years I just made things for myself, and for family and friends.
In 1999 I relocated from Texas to Missouri, and made a resolution to begin to be actively creative again. I was ready for a change, something new, without any old history to it. I sold the looms (there were three of them, quite huge, taking up lots of room in the house) to students in the Weaving Department at the Kansas City Art Institute, and learned stained glass from a neighbor.
From Wool to Glass
From Warm to Cool
From Soft to Hard
I knew I didn't want to make windows or lampshades, but I did enjoy the 3-D work, so I made kaleidoscopes and boxes. I learned to cut and solder glass and copper foil.
Gradually, the pieces got smaller and smaller, and turned into jewelry pendants. It led me to an interest in fusing the glass in a kiln to create faux gems. I took a class in silver metal clay, bought a kiln, and the jewelry started to take over.
Maybe, if I had thought to make beads in ceramic all those years ago, I'd still be a potter, and working in jewelry. But I'm happy I'm doing what I'm doing now.
I still fancy that I'll bring the fiber part back into the jewelry, to bring all my past creative experiences together.
I love wearing it!
Friends enjoy getting it as a gift.
It's small, light and easy to pack and ship - the logistics work for me.
People enjoy adorning themselves.
And I get to meet and mingle with jewelry designers.
And lovely friends, like LeAnn Weih.
Thank you, LeAnn, for your great question, I hope you hung in with me on this story. At my age, any question about my history takes a while to tell, I'm afraid ...There's a bit of it back there!