Budding young artist and entrepreneur
Although I have a background in the corporate world and am currently a part-time farmer, art has always been in my life. Even as a kid, I remember going to the beach with my family and making a collage with shells and pebbles. Not only did I enjoy making it, but I set it outside with a for sale sign!
My creative adventures over the years have included knitting, needlepoint, collage, and dabbling in different art mediums. I never imagined then that I’d become a wire art jewelry designer.
Getting hooked by wire art jewelry
It wasn’t until adulthood that I claimed the title of artist. It happened by happy accident when a friend wanted to learn how to wire wrap objects. As a gift, I gave her a class, and we went together.
At the end of the wire-wrapping class, she was satisfied with her finished project, but I kept going back. In fact, I kept taking classes on every possible bead-related and metal-related topic—from seed beads and soldering to wire.
Finding my artistic style
As I got deeper into the work, I started hearing about this amazing artist in bead magazines. Lynn Merchant was teaching in the San Diego area and has a rich background in jewelry design. Her many travels including visiting stone cutters in Afghanistan and other artists in far away places. Lynn uses unusual things, very large pearls, and wire in remarkably creative ways. Lynn became a primary influence for my work.
My designs spun off from the techniques and projects I was experimenting with in classes. As I learned, I started to develop my own style and confidence in making wire art jewelry.
In my corporate career at Starbucks, I was trained to teach adults, so it was a natural progression to start teaching my designs to students. From there, I dipped my toe into big shows like Bead and Button and Bead Expo which encouraged me to develop more new classes. It’s hard to believe that was twenty years ago!
Developing as an artist entrepreneur
Of course, being an artist isn’t just about techniques; it’s also about running a business. A few years later, I was found a teacher who would shape my understanding of what it meant to be an artist. NanC Meinhart, who is both a psychologist and recognized seed bead artist, leads groups of artists through a year-long master class. Rather than focusing on recreating other artists’ designs, NanC’s master class helped me find my own voice through wire.
The year my master class met NanC challenged us to take our art seriously, to build a body of work, and to develop a recognizable style. We focused on the necessary details like writing a bio, taking photos of our work, display and logistics required to enter our work in shows, pricing, and more. At the end of the year, our work was shown in a gallery in San Luis Obispo. That year, I developed an artist’s perspective instead of just making things.
Practice practice practice
One of the things that really stays with me was reading War of Art. In it, the author tells the story of two groups of artists. The first group is instructed to make as many clay pots as they can. The second group is told to make one perfect pot. In the end, it was the group that made many who created the most beautiful work. The lesson I got from that was how important it is to make a lot of things and keep at it. Even when it is a dud, or not something you’ll sell.
Today, my work is featured at several local galleries including Madera Circle Gallery and Mixed Messages in Sanger and The Brush and Easel Gallery in Fresno. This year, I’m taking an even bigger leap with my art by making it available for purchase on my website (stay tuned!).
For me, art is about finding a medium you love and then continuing to learn, practice, and take small steps toward creating work you enjoy. What you have enough interest, love, skill, and patience for—that’s your medium. Wire art is mine!
Kathleen Mattox says
I loved following you down your bendy path!