Meet the Team - Interview with Natasha Bouey
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I am a self taught artist and I work as a lab technician at the California Institute of Technology. I do science by day and art at night. As a biology major I am fascinated by the world around me and have always had a strong desire to learn how and why things work. I have been creating art for as long as I can remember. Art and science are my passions and are constantly crossing over into each other on a daily basis. Whether it's noticing the beauty in the patterns bacteria colonies make on an agar plate or using the problem solving skills I use daily in trying to make the designs in my head translate into a doable project to solve problems in the lab, I have discovered that my 2 passions compliment each other.
Have any special hobbies?
I am an animal nut and have probably more pets than any sane person should have.
Fine Silver Pug Pendant
What is your business name and website address?
NBDesigns and my only website is my Etsy shop: NBDesigns.etsy.com
How did you find out about metalclay and then start working with it?
I am a huge Carol Duvall fan and I would watch religiously before going to class in the morning. On one episode I saw a small piece on PMC. I was amazed and always kept it in the back of my mind as something I wanted to try. 3 years later after reading a book that had a big impact on my life a fire was lit in me to make a pendant to represent a favorite passage from the book. I got online and found a class near me and signed up. Fortunately it was a class taught by a wonderful lady named Lora Hart, and after her class I left with confidence and a desire to create more PMC work.
What drives you to make jewelry?
Creating art always has been a stress reliever for me. I find when you are focused on creating you do not have time to think/worry about other things. My daily life experiences inspire me to create new designs based on what gets stuck in my head.
Are you disciplined or do you go with the flow and work when you feel like it?
I wish I can say I was disciplined but it is more my OCD I rely on to get things done. No matter how tired I am I force myself to sit and start work knowing that once I get started I will have fun and the hours will fly by.
Won any awards for your jewelry? for anything else?
Nope. But a pair of my earrings will be in the February issue of Art Jewelry Magazine. I would like to try entering some design competitions when I feel I am ready. I still have a lot to learn.
Do you do any other type of art?
I do it all. Paint, draw, sculpt, wood working, ceramics... basically anything I can get my hands on :).
Angel Wing Pendant
What is your art sensibility - precise or organic?
I would have to say precise. I want my pieces to look realistic and detailed. I want them to be instantly recognizable.
When did you feel you had more confidence in your abilities?
When I listed my first design and woke up the next morning with an order for 6 pieces. It was then I realized that people really liked my stuff!
What is your favorite tool for working with metalclay?
My favorite and most useful tool for working with PMC is my trusty Exacto knife. I would be lost with out it, I have noticed that work comes to a screeching halt if my exacto disappears. It is really great for getting into small areas for cutting, texturing, shaping, and smoothing. It’s like having 10 tools in one.
Where do you work?
I am lucky enough to be able to use my garage as my studio. The previous owner of the house used to be a carpenter so I inherited a lot of great stainless steel counter tops, drawers, and cabinets (complete with all of the peg board I would ever want which is perfect for all of the stuff I need to hang).
What is your favorite thing to make?
My favorite item to make have to be pendants, not everyone is a ring person, or has pierced ears but if you make the design just right, you can make a necklace wearer out of anyone. I like to make pendants that are mini sculptures of objects, nothing too abstract. I think people get a kick out of having tiny symbols that represent their careers, hobbies, and passions.
Do you ever add commercial components?
Besides sterling chain and the CZ stones everything is handmade. I carve my own models and design all of my molds. I am thinking about adding some pre-made embeddable fine silver bails. Handmade bails are always a gamble when it comes to finding the right chain that will fit through the bails.
How do you work, and when? (For ex. assembly line or one at a time)
Creating has always been a stress reliever for me so I try to do a little something everyday. In the case of an order I always get to work right away, I do not like to keep people waiting (since I do not like waiting). I am constantly sketching and sculpting. One of these days I am going to make all of the ideas I have floating around in my head. I have a drawer full of molds that I hope to use soon.
Angel Wing Save Darfur
Do you have any kind of creative ritual?
My ipod and my dogs are 2 constants. Good music and company help keep the mood positive and help keep me focused. My dogs are always good at reminding me when I need to take a break.
How do you hold onto ideas that you don't have time to pursue NOW!?
I always record them in a sketch book before they fly away, and post them on a cork board hanging up in my studio… so I won’t lose them if I lose my sketchbook :)! My sketchbook is a must, you never know when a good idea will hit.
Do you ever teach classes and where?
Nope too much drama for me, but I do have friends come to my studio and give PMC a try. I say leave art to the artists and teaching to the teachers!
Do you make a living at it?
No, but I wish I did. I have to admit I have had weeks where I have made the same if not more money selling my jewelry than at my regular 9-5. I love it when that happens, it gives me the hope that one day it might be possible but I do not regret having a 9-5. I am lucky enough to have an interesting job that gives a lot of inspiration and ideas.
Do you do custom orders?
Yes, I wish I had more to do. But I find the customers "ideal" price rarely covers the cost of my time. I don’t think people fully appreciate the time, materials, and costs it takes to make a one of a kind custom piece.
What are you working on currently?
A line of jewelry for writers, it involves a lot of fountain pen nibs and faceted onyx drops that are supposed to represent ink. I am also working on jewelry for researchers working with zebra fish, mice, and quail embryos and other science/biology related stuff.
What's next on your agenda to make?
I have completed the quail and mouse embryo, so I have to find a suitable picture of a zebra fish at an interesting stage to sculpt. I also need to make a model of the writer's bracelet, that will incorporate all of the ideas I have and still look good…I am a bit stuck with this one.
Thank you Natasha.
It has been a pleasure getting to know you.