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"I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." by William E. Henley

Friday, October 15, 2010

how did I get to where I am now with my skills?

So this months topic for the Handmade division team is: How did you get where you are now with your skills..
I missed last month cause I was crazy busy but this one I really wanted to do. It's always good to pause for a minute and reflect on the journey you're on.

I started making jewelry when I was 12 years old. Polymer clay. Fun stuff. I made necklaces that I would sell at my mothers art shows. As I grew into a cool teenager (read: nerd with glasses) I put the jewelry making aside to focus on more fun stuff (read: homework and reading books. yeah I was super cool LOL).

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I was growing incredible antsy with my day job. Although graphic design is a creative profession it can get rather boring when you work for the same company for 10 years and have to stay within that brand identity of that company.. So I needed a different outlet. Something that I was in charge of. Where there was no boundaries. Something where I was free to explore and let my imagination run wild.

I got a bunch of beads and pliers and started making jewelry again. I made my own beads in polymer clay and made little guardian angel bracelets (I still have a bunch them, I have to take some photos and show you).
I have a very high learning curve so my appetite to grow and develop is very strong. I quickly realized that polymer clay and beads wasn't going to cut it. I wanted a bigger challenge. Metalwork seemed to be the natural path to take.

I ordered some silver sheet, wire and a little torch. I had no idea what I was doing. I got online and read everything I could find about soldering. I learned to do basic things.
Later I stumbled upon Etsy where I created the first nova shop. Nova Designs . I created a modern but fun line of jewelry including my famous pinwheels. Suddenly things took off. I was actually selling. It was amazing. I loved every minute I spent in the studio making little pinwheels and flowers. But I wanted to grow. To get better. To expand my skills. I started playing with torch enameling. Loved it. So much fun. But very hot in the little studio...

I started bezel setting. Once again I searched the internet for tutorials and I taught myself how to do more intricate metalwork. I fell in love with stones. Jaspers, agates.. you name it.. I love it. Bought a gaziljon of stones. They all spoke to me.. I just had to take them all home :o). Started experimenting with larger bezel set pieces. Bringing in the nature elements that I love so much. Flowers, vines, leafs and whimsical details. I love details. I started using a lot of commercial components as embellishments but as I continue to develop I am more and more drawn to making everything from scratch. I love working with filigree and in my own and not very traditional way I can see myself continue to explore the possibilities of filigree wire.

So I guess to sum it up.. I got where I am with a lot of blood sweat and tears (and laughs of course). Trial and error for sure but every little victory makes it worth it. But I am no where done learning. Just as I think I've finally mastered something I'll melt a bezel or mess up something else. You're never done learning. But that's the beauty of making things. There's always something to look forward to. I see challenges everywhere. I think my weakest side is also my strongest. Since I am self taught I really don't see any limitations. I approach my metalwork and designs with a fearless and sometimes naive enthusiasm. Sometimes with great results. Sometimes with a pile of melted dreams... But I never give up. I just keep trying until I get there. And I am having so much fun along the way!

thanks for stopping by!

check out my friends blog posts on the topic


  1. Oh I love your post, Tess!!! Being self-taught as well, I really identified with what you wrote about. It sounds as if your excitement really can't fade - and I feel the same way about my media. Limits? What are those, lol?!

  2. I love your work and I enjoyed your post about how did you get here, doing all these marvellous jewels. Congratulations, you're extraordinary!

  3. Very inspiring Tess! Your story intrigues me to want to search online for new skills in other areas of art.

  4. Thank you! It's fun to look back at where you have been and imagine where you might be going.

  5. What a great post, Tess! Your artistic journey is inspiring, thanks for sharing :-) B. -xo-

  6. wow Tess, self taught, that's awesome!!!!

  7. fantastic post, tess! I love your pinwheel:)

  8. "Since I am self taught I really don't see any limitations. I approach my metalwork and designs with a fearless and sometimes naive enthusiasm. Sometimes with great results." So well said!

  9. Definitely any great artisan can never stop learning, its in their blood to keep progressing...great points!

  10. Great post! Self taught is tuff but rewarding, and I think much more free. I still have a little voice that goes off in my head once in a while thats says "your not suppoooosed to doooo it like that". It sucks, but I am over it now I think :)


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I always try but sometimes time just flies away!
love ~tess