My name is Irene and I’m 25. I’m an italian artist. After obtaining a high school degree of maturity in art I enrol at a course of “Industrial design” at the “Istituto Europeo di design” in Rome. Today I work and live in Italy. I’m a designer and artist and this is my art….
I just got back from a local art show featuring work by kids from Kindergarten through 12th grade (about ages 5 – 18), and I was amazed by the wonderful pieces I saw.
Of course I’m biased, but my favorite was my son’s artwork! (He’s wearing his favorite necklace from Additions Style :)
The next generation appears to be doing a great job, and we’re going to be in capable hands.
Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.
– Oprah Winfrey
Once in a while, I come across handmade items that instantly grab my attention and compel me to learn more about the artist behind them. Discovering Barbe Beaty’s eco-friendly silver work was a highlight of my week; and even more so after hearing more about it and the work that Barbe does through her own social enterprise, the Promise Project. Not only does Barbe create lovely, hand-sculpted pieces which celebrate diversity, strength and self-awareness; she generously shares her passion and spirit with others, so that they, too, may discover the uniqueness within their own selves. I am so excited to share Barbe’s work with you and invite you to learn more about Njia Studios and The Promise Project in the artist’s own, eloquent words.
How did you get your start in Jewelry design?
I am a completely self-taught precious metals artisan. As a graphic artist, I first began by designing a line of angels as symbolic reminders for those touched by death (having volunteered with our area Hospice). I thought that they would make nice lapel pins but wasn’t sure how to go about creating them. Having attended an art show and admired the designs of a jeweler who specialized in Precious Metal Clay (PMC), was when I had my first aha moment! The rest was herstory!
What led you to using PMC?
Having stumbled across the medium at a local art show, I loved the idea of being able to create original pieces of jewelry/art without a large overhead. I was amazed that I could create beautiful pieces of jewelry by merely using a few inexpensive tools and my kitchen stove!! (I’ve since invested in a digital kiln)
What do you like about the medium?
I truly love the flexibility of the clay. It lends itself to being sculpted, rolled, overlayed, hollowed out, carved, imprinted–you name it! I love the eco-friendly nature of PMC. It is comprised of finely ground recycled silver particles, water and an organic binder. Once fired by kiln, torch, or stovetop, it becomes 99.9% fine silver!
Does it present any challenges?
The major challenge I’ve found is the limited amount of time in which to work the clay–it dries quicker than traditional clay. Additionally, the cost has skyrocketed since I first began using the medium five years ago.
How has your interest in the environment influenced your design and your business practices?
My family was eco-friendly long before it became “the thing to do”. I think some looked at our practices as pretty strange! We could often be found tagging alongside my Dad picking up roadside trash back in the 70’s! So, caring for our environment has always been a part of my being. I love knowing that I can build a business while not further compromising our environment. Whenever possible, I also use recycled materials for shipping and packaging.
Tell me about The Promise Project; how did it come about?
As an artist, I feel the importance of creating positive images of hope and encouragement. As a social entrepreneur, I felt a deeper need to empower our community. There are so many social issues that affect our society, but the loss of self compares to no other. It is so easy to be pulled from living our purposeful path–from being who we were born to be… our authentic self.
Who attends the workshops?
My workshops were initially designed for girls and women from all walks of life, through various community organizations, i.e.: hospices, girl scouts, schools, social service agencies. Although, at several of my contracted public schools, I’ve had wonderful young gentlemen in attendance!
What do your participants take from the workshops (besides their silver token)?
I stress the symbolism of each and every step in the process as they create their promise tokens. I present the idea that we are each artists–we are each co-creators of our world. We may not necessarily be able to choose every experience we encounter along our journey, but the choice to create joy is always ours. Participants take with them greater awareness, empowerment, and a tangible commitment to self.
What have you learned from the girls/women (and young men) who have attended?
That age and social economic status are illusions. We are one in the same. Hearing “You matter”, feels the same wherever you may happen to be along your road through life.
Barbe’s jewelry can be purchased through her shop. (Be sure to sign up for her shop feed to be kept abreast of new designs. )
Are you a hat person? Me, I LOVE hats. I wish people wore them more often. And you wont find more interestingly designed berets then Hoboe Jane‘s! These quirky hats are a simple way to add a sens of fun to your look. Hoboe Jane’s creator Kristy has a background in sculpture and art and some of the hats have hand painted elements. Kristy picked up her love of arts, crafts, sewing and design from her mother, a Kindergarten teacher and has been exploring creative venues from a young age.
Kristy is influenced by lines and patterns in nature and also draws heavily from the fantasy movies she watched growing up like “Labyrinth” and “The Princess Bride”.
Kristy’s favorite item in her shop is the Spider Swirl Beret Hat. It’s a good representation of her style as it includes both hand painted elements and design with felt.
When I make my items, I think of a story that goes along with each piece. Like with the Spider Swirl Beret Hat I’ve made, she is a wandering tarantula from the northern regions of Chile and has made her new home on this very hat and wants to live with you now.
Kristy started making her own clothing and accessories in high school and to help with the family budge she started redesigning her old things and turning them into brand new objects! While she’s always loved making skirts and bags within the last year, she found a new love for making hats.
I love the work I create and I hope my love for it shows through, in my products. I try to give my work a sense of fun and joy, so whoever purchases an item will have their very own one of a kind piece.
Larger retail organizations may sometimes have better prices, but you are getting what you paid for. Retail stores sell numerous multiples of items, making them not as unique, quirky, and creative. I try to make my items as affordable as possible, for the everyday customer.
Hand made goods are much more personal and unique. Much more passion and care goes into everything we create ourselves than if it is made by a machine in some obscure factory.
language & meaning designworks: I’ve been mesmerized by paper for as long as I can remember. I can’t tell you how many portfolios of paper I have…well, actually, I can since they’re right next to me, but I digress.
I started doing fine art collages in college. Inspired by Hannah Hoch and her Dadaist counterparts, I enjoyed playing around with a mix of found images and objects, advertising cut-outs and text and found that I was drawn to their interplay. Really, I suppose you could take it all the way back to when my sister and I would cut out words, fashions and famous people from magazines and make huge poster board displays for our rooms. Luckily for everyone, I won’t be making any homages to the Cure or Benneton any time soon..
I never could wrap my brain around large-scale projects. Instructors were always telling me to step back from my projects for perspective, telling me “you’re too close to that canvas;” guess I was trying to make something big, small. Instead, I opted to create vignettes that (I hoped) had a Joseph Cornell vibe to them. Small seemed intimate, personal; a window into a certain feeling.
I take the same care with my cards, invitations and other paper crafts. I like to think of them as tiny works of art. I LOVE paper! I see ideas in those sheets but I’m not gonna lie, not everything I make is a hug from Jesus. You won’t see any of my design step-children here; only the best for you peeps!
I’m a total and complete art history nerd: modern and contemporary art/photography and mid-century architecture/furnishings. The weirdest thing about me is the way I eat ice cream from the carton – it’s gotta be scraped in a flat, level pattern or all is no bueno in this house! Currently in grad school for my MFA and loving life with my husband, the company of good friends and MAKING STUFF.