Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I went to the Academy of Art college in San Francisco, where I majored in graphic design. It was the olden days, so this involved rubylith, exacto knives and rubber cement. They had some jewelry classes, but I never took one. I ended up in Sonoma County after college, and the local junior college had an excellent jewelry program. I took it and was immediately hooked! I learned traditional fabricating and casting and I enjoyed it so much that I went to work in jewelry manufacturing. I did production work for 4 years at a company that did silver, bronze and gold casting, and then 6 years making very high end gold jewelry. For the last 6 years I've been working doing design work for yet another manufacturer, this time it's fabricated jewelry though. I'm quite happy to be doing my own work again too.
Have any special hobbies?
Yes, I race motorcycles. Road racing (not dirt!) against men. I've done it for the last 7 years - it's fun, expensive, and yes, it's dangerous. My mother is not thrilled that her 43 year old daughter does this, but she's used to it now. I don't usually tell her when I crash though.
What is your shop name and address?
Lulu Bug Jewelry. I also have a blog.
How did you find out about metalclay and then start working with it? How long?
I remember hearing about metal clay when it first came out, and I finally took a little class at the Santa Rosa parks and rec department about a year ago, and was immediately addicted. I did my own jewelry work years ago, mainly fabrication, but got burned out since I did it for 8 hours a day at my job too. I hadn't had the desire to do my own work until I discovered metal clay. Now I remember why I started down this path in the first place 18 years ago.
What drives you to make jewelry?
I enjoy making tangible things, and I like the durability and permanence of metal. It's very satisfying to make objects (as opposed to making a painting) that have a purpose. I also like the fact that humans have adorned themselves since way back when and that I'm part of that tradition. I love looking at ancient jewelry, imagining who made it, how they did it and with what tools. I've looked at ancient gold castings and thought "Hah! They had problems with porosity too!"
Are you disciplined or do you go with the flow and work when you feel like it?
Since I work 40 hours a week at my other job, I am very disciplined or I would never get anything done! I do something every day. I spend 2-4 hours every week night working, and if I've got no other plans, a very large portion of my weekend too.
Do you do any other type of art?
Right now it's just jewelry, but I have done drawing and painting in the past. I do the artwork on for my pieces with images using Photoshop and Illustrator, and sometimes just plain old pen and paper.
What is your art sensibility - precise or organic?
Precise, but I'm trying hard to be more organic! Metal clay lends itself to organic.
When did you feel you had more confidence in your abilities?
I feel pretty confident as of late -it feels as if all my years of experience in the jewelry industry are finally coming together and I'm able to use it all to express myself in a way that pleases me.
What is your favorite tool for working with metalclay?
Anything that is used once the clay is dry - I don't like it when it's wet!
Where do you work?
In my living room.
What is your favorite thing to make?
I don't have any one favorite - I just enjoy the act of making.
Do you ever add commercial components?
Jump rings, chains and clasps. I make my own ear wires though.
How do you work, and when? (for ex. assembly line or one at a time)
I'm a night owl and focus best after 10pm. Needless to say, I am usually sleep deprived since I have to get up in the morning. I always plan my week and work on a number of pieces at the same time, keeping on somewhat of a schedule so I can see them from start to finish to photography in a reasonable amount of time. It helps me keep new work flowing, and it's always nice to finish things. Otherwise, I would start something, have an idea, start something else etc. until I had a whole bunch of half finished stuff.
How do you hold onto ideas that you don't have time to pursue NOW!
I jot them down on what ever is available and I have a sketchbook with me wherever I go.
Do you do custom orders?
Yes, I've done a few and am always open to it.
What are you working on currently?
I just finished some blossom/seed pod things that turned out quite well and I fired some bronze last night. I've also got a Ginko leaf design that I'm kind of excited about.
What's next on your agenda to make?
More designs using tinted concrete, and I have some artwork I need to etch for my simple pendants with images.
How do you make time for everything you want to do?
I stay up late. It's the only way. Thank god for coffee to get me through the day!
Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself?
Lulu Bug is one of my sweet Shar-Peis. She enjoys being president of her own company and shares the work load with Lily (also a Shar-Pei) the CFO - chief fun officer, and Clancy (Irish Setter) who is the CEO - chief eating officer. The cats - Ike, Debbie and Hank work in shipping, but feel they would do a better job running things. The birds simply make a mess. Um, yes, I'm kind of one of those nutty animal lovers.
Thank you Sue, it's been a pleasure hearing about your process.
interview by Catherine Witherell of HappyDayArt!
What a great interview, so nice to get to know you better Sue! I'm loving these little glimpses into the lives of our team mates!
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