Wire Art Jewelry by Mel: I started making jewelry over 10 years ago, even longer if you count some jewelry I made with my father while I was still in grade school. I am basically self-taught with the experience of working with several great artists and teaching. My degrees are in art and psychology from a small liberal arts college. I moved to California to go to grad school, but never made it. I started creating jewelry as my main source of income there and began working for a company (whose name I cannot legally mention) making jewelry showcases for department stores. So, you may have seen my work without even knowing it, since they did not incorporate the artists names. I moved back near Chicago a few years ago and continue my passion for art, working from a studio in Wheaton.
Sheryl from the Jochris12 jewelry store on Etsy creates amazing glass pendants, earrings and more. As a kid she was quiet but very creative and it shows in her work. On any average day you’ll find her walking around in jeans and a sweatshirt, and of course, Jochris12 Jewelry.
How long have you been working with glass? How did you get started?
I guess I have always had a love affair with glass. I have collected glass since I was a small girl. I started fusing glass in 2000 and started making fused glass jewelry in 2002. I had watched a program on tv on fusing glass and instantly knew it would be a passion for me. I am completely self taught. I have read lots and lots of books and learned lots from my mistakes.
I love the Color Explosion pieces. How do you come up with the color combinations? How are they made?
The Color Explosion pieces are made in many different steps. All the little pieces in each piece are fused separately and after they are fused I put together the pendants. I just put them together in such a way that appeals to my eye and hopefully the customers eye too. After they are put together they will be fused again. Then cold worked to shape and then back in the kiln for a fire polish.
Where do you come up with your ideas for new pieces?
Ideas come to me no matter what I am doing. Sometimes shopping I will see color combinations and then sometimes I wake in the night and I have to write down a idea. My creative mind never sleeps.
How long does it take to make a piece? Can you explain the process in simple-ish terms?
The fusing process depends on what fusing technique you are doing. You might just be doing a tack fuse that will just take one fusing and grinding to shape and then another fire polishing. Some of the more advanced pieces will take a minimum of 4 firings and sometimes more. I can sometimes work on a piece for weeks and then sometimes everything will come together and not take very long. I just love every minute of this process. This is when I am at my happiest.
Is the process different for the pendants with butterflies, birds and flowers on them?
The fusing process for the pendants that you see the images on starts out the same as any other pendant. After that has been completed the image will be fused into the glass. The images are then a part of the glass.
Do you do any other types of crafts/art?
I have always had a project of some kind going. I love to crochet and knit; those are my favorites next to glass. I have probably tried everything from cake decorating to scrapbooking, but I am totally in love with glass.
Tell me more about you?
I don’t know if I have a favorite color, but I am sure you can tell I love color of all kind. I guess if I had to pick one it would be in the green family. I love my morning coffee. My favorite cereal is cheerios.
Check out these sweet fabric pendants by Mademoiselle d’Ange.
I was unable to choose just a few, so you get to overdose on them!
As an artist, Mademoiselle d’Ange paints, sticks, cuts, sculpts. One day, seeing her grandmother, needlewoman of profession, and her mother, to handle the magic sewing machine, Mademoiselle decides to steal in the workshop of these Ladies some ends of cloth…an angel passes!
What is your craft / art / creative endeavor?
I make handmade pendants and wire wrapped jewelry. The pendants I make are all by methods that I have invented myself! The wire wrap jewelry I make is to fulfill my desire to be able to make something beautiful, quickly, since all of my other jewelry takes so long to make!
I make four different types of pendants; micro mosaics, miniature sand painted pendants, fabric pendants, and hand painted embossed pendants.
The micro mosaic pendants are made by hand stretching glass into micro thin rods of glass that I cut down into tiny tiles that are about 2mm in length and 1/2 a mm in thickness. I make the design and then cover the design in resin to protect it. It takes hundreds upon hundreds of these micro tiles to make a pendant and I don’t make too many of them because they are so time consuming!
The miniature sand painted pendants that I make are inspired by the Native American art of Sand Painting. I make a design out of silver wire and then inlay the colored sand to the design. Then, I cover my sand paintings in jewelers’ grade resin to protect them and make them waterproof.
The fabric pendants are made by embossing a design into metal and then hand cutting fabric to be inlayed into the design. I also protect these with resin.
Finally, the hand painted pendants are made by embossing metal and using a metal paint to fill in the design and then finish it off by covering it in resin.
How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?
I used to be a nurse, but I have been making jewelry since childhood. I made everything from elaborate friendship bracelets to brick stitched seed bead earrings. I really always wanted to make jewelry for a living but when it was time to go to college a nursing degree seemed more practical. I decided, years later and after having my kids that I didn’t want to be a nurse any more, but to stay at home with them. I soon discovered that as much as I love playing with them, I needed a more creative outlet than playdoh. I decided to finally make the jewelry I have always wanted to make.
I had planned to go back to school to learn how to make jewelry by conventional methods so that I could have a home business, but I just never found time to go. Instead, I just started inventing my own methods to make jewelry in my spare time. I really wanted to make something totally different than other people were doing. The micro mosaic invention took three years to perfect but then the invention of everything else just fell into place fairly quickly. And now, here I am!
Is there a story behind the name of your shop?
My shop name “Twist 21” comes from the idea that I put a twist on past forms of jewelry or art to make them new again. Micro mosaics and sand paintings have been around for a long time, but there are no books (at least that I could find) that could teach me how to make micro mosaics… and as far as I know, no one else has ever made a sand painting into a pendant. So I came up with my own twist on an old idea! The 21 in my shop name is because 21 is my lucky number.
Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? What is your process? How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?
All of the jewelry is created by me. My husband helps by watching my two kids while I sell at craft shows and over the weekends when I do most of my jewelry creation. Most of my work is done late at night, during nap times for the kids, and over the weekend. I get very little sleep, but I really enjoy having my time with my kids as well as my creative time. Sleep will just have to continue to be on the backburner for a while!
Where do you sell your work? Which venues are your favorites? Do you prefer selling online or in person? Do you attend shows or fairs? Is your work in a gallery or brick-and-mortar store?
I enjoy selling both online and in person. I do find that I sell more in person since people seem to like to try things on and really touch jewelry before they make a decision, but I enjoy being able to sell to people all over the world by selling online. I don’t think I prefer one way of selling over the other.
I’d love to sell my jewelry in actual stores but I haven’t figured out how to make that happen yet!
Do you have any favorite handmade shops or sellers?
What inspires and motivates you?
I am inspired by all forms of art and really enjoy inventing something new out of an old idea. Obviously, I am a fan of antique micro mosaics, and Native American sand paintings. Most of my designs that I use for my pendants are not my own (though some are.) I use royalty free images that I have permission to use so that I have a broad range of styles for my pendants. Having so many different patterns and different types of fabric keeps me motivated and interested so that my craft never gets boring to me.
What do you wish I had asked you?
“When did I start loving art/jewelry?”
My father says as an infant, I was a really calm baby who never really got too excited or upset about anything. (I take this to mean I was pretty boring, but I don’t think that is what he meant!) But at just a few months old, my parents took me into a store in Arizona that was selling Sand Paintings and Native American jewelry and I just lit up. He said I grabbed at everything and was just really excited. He thought at the time that my excitement over jewelry was just a sign that girls are more expensive than boys…but now, it seems clear that I just always liked jewelry and art. I think that making jewelry is just something I was meant to do.
Thank you Danielle! And if you want to be interviewed next, just head over to DIY Interview.