Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
A chance visit to a dollhouse shop in the Cotswolds many years ago turned out to be a collision with destiny for me. I was instantly and completely besotted with the tiny world I saw. I began creating 1/12th scale potted plants and flowers with increasingly precise detail and became known for the miniscule buds and teensy branches I delighted in adding to my pieces.
Decades later, I discovered the joy of creating my own jewelry and a much larger, though no less detailed, world opened up for me -- to my enormous delight! The most enjoyable part of making jewelry for me is including the same level of minute detail -- everything from combining intricate textures to molding the tiniest of seashells -- that I gave to my work in scale miniatures. Echoes of my intense love for botanicals, miracles from the sea and lots and lots of texture still exist in my work even though the medium has changed.
My favorite quote is this from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: "Art in the blood is liable to manifest itself in the strangest forms."
I am a Certified PMC Artisan, a Fellow member of the International Guild of Miniature Artisans and a proud member of EtsyMetalClay (EMC Team), Art Jewelry Collective (AJC Team), and the Creative Glass Guild of Etsy (CGGE).
My favorite comment regarding my work: "Very few jewelry artists honor the beauty of metals other than gold. You do, though, with both form and detail. Lovely!"
My husband and I and our two cats divide our time between Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Naples, Florida.
Have any special hobbies?
I may have slowed down on creating dollhouse miniatures, but I still adore them, make the odd piece now and then, and have a ridiculously large collection of vintage and contemporary dollhouses. I don’t exactly play with them, but … yeah, well, I guess I do!
What is your business name and website address?
Mango Tango Designs
Two websites: MangoTango.etsy.com, and MangoTangoDesigns.com
No brick and mortar store … although a close friend and I are giving serious consideration to opening an artisans’ gallery to showcase our work (she’s an art quilter) and the work of other talented artisans on Cape Cod.
Do you sell in any shops other than etsy?
I’ve received an invitation to sell my work through Seaweeds Gallery on Sanibel Island … stay tuned on that one as I’m about to visit them with samples.
How did you find out about metalclay and then start working with it? How long?
A friend and neighbor in Naples who is crafty took an Art Clay class and couldn’t wait to tell me about the magical properties of metal clay. She dragged me to a PMC class and the rest is history. This was about two years ago.
What drives you to make jewelry?
The incessant, insatiable need to create has long been a part of who I am. First it was creative writing, then photography. It wasn’t until I discovered dollhouse miniatures that I finally felt like I had ‘come home’, and the transition to jewelry seemed like a natural fit after that. Once one is used to working with very precise detail, everything else becomes easy.
Sea Urchin III
Are you disciplined or do you go with the flow and work when you feel like it?
Well, an odd combination. I don’t *need* to create every day, but I almost always want to. It’s like an unscratched itch. Perhaps I ignore the urge one day a week at the very most.
Won any awards for your jewelry? for anything else?
I have not yet submitted any of my work for an award, but I have jewelry and a tutorial that will be published in Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine's Spring 2009 issue.
In the miniatures world, I achieved Fellow status in the International Guild of Miniature Artisans, the highest level of juried achievement in the world of scale miniatures. I believe that currently there are fewer than 150 IGMA Fellows worldwide.
I still occasionally dabble with dollhouse miniatures. I create 1/12th and 1/24th scale flowering and foliage plants in tiny pots, baskets, vases, etc. These are all constructed entirely by hand by freehand cutting all the leaves and then painting on tiny ‘dead spots’ to enhance the illusion of realism.
What is your art sensibility - precise or organic?
Some level of both … although if I had to break it down, I’d call it 75% precise and 25% organic. My background in miniatures demands that I include fine detail, but I love working with organic materials. The only thing I probably *don’t* do is abstract designs.
Sage Leaf Ring
When did you feel you had more confidence in your abilities?
I guess it was when I sold my first piece.
What is your favorite tool for working with metalclay?
The least sophisticated items are always the most useful to me … a toothpick and a paint brush.
Where do you work?
In our Cape Cod house, I have turned a first floor bedroom at the end of the house into a big studio. It has a large bay window facing a lake and a walk-in closet where I store most of my supplies.
In Florida, I’m not quite so lucky. I have a work table set up in a combination guest bedroom/office, and it’s very cramped. I have a tiny kiln there which I drag out onto the lanai for firings. What both studio spaces have in common is glorious water views … my only real prerequisite. It allows me to focus my eyes, when they grow tired, on something beautiful in the distance.
What is your favorite thing to make?
I love making pendants containing some combination of dichroic glass, seashells made from my own molds, and the occasional mermaid. Can you tell I love living near water?
Nautilus II Necklace
Do you ever add commercial components?
Yes, mostly bulk chain and clasps. Recently I’ve begun making my own sterling earwires and jump rings. When I have time, I’d like to return to making more of my own toggle clasps.
How do you work, and when? (for ex. assembly line or one at a time)
Just about all day every day. I try to make a single piece at a time unless I’m working with BronzClay. The firings take so long I can’t bear not to load up the firing sink. The one thing I do that I’d classify as assembly line is molding seashells since I use so many of them.
Saltwater Tidepool Necklace
Do you have any kind of creative ritual?
I tend to play music while I’m working that feeds my creative soul … it needs to have a calming, serene effect on me. A lot of New Age music fits the bill, especially the music of Enigma, Magna Canta, Lesiem and occasionally Enya. Aside from that, a mug of good coffee does the trick.
How do you hold onto ideas that you don't have time to pursue NOW!
I’m fairly good at remembering the basic ideas, but if it’s a piece that contains text, I’ll often jot down words or phrases I’d like to use.
Do you ever use a sketchbook?
No. I’m a disaster in two dimensions … the stick figure type. Give me three dimensions to work with, however, and it’s a completely different story!
Do you ever teach classes and where?
My longer-term goal covers this … but right now I still have too many techniques to learn. My plan is to teach classes in my Cape Cod home where I have enough space and the right equipment.
I taught dollhouse miniatures classes for years and really enjoyed it, so this is definitely on the horizon.
Do you do custom orders?
Yes, and I enjoy them. They can be quite the challenge sometimes!
What are you working on currently?
I’m refining some new pieces to present to a jury for membership in a local artisans’ guild. One of the pieces I created is a night-time ocean view through a window with a full moon shining over the water. I think it’s probably the best piece I’ve done so far.
What's next on your agenda to make?
I’ll be taking an enameling class soon, so I expect it to be something incorporating enamel. I’d also like to make a piece similar to the one described above except with hinged shutters on both sides of the window.
How do you make time for everything you want to do?
I frequently sacrifice other activities in order to create. I retired early some years ago from a full-time job so I’m lucky enough to work when I want. And I frequently want to!
Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself?
There’s nothing more important to me in this life than having the freedom to do what you love and to spend time with friends and loved ones. I try to laugh a lot every day and take long, brisk walks on the beach. Life is good!
Thank you Bev.
It has been a pleasure getting to know you.
I'm so loving this series. I love getting to know our team mates better. Bev, you're such an interesting girl with an interesting background. Who knew you did dollhouse miniatures!
Oh to be able to work with those windows facing the lake! Beautiful work.
I myself, love the process of the interview and getting to read it first and then choosing my favorite photos of the jewelry in each artist's shop. I love seeing it when it's done!
Great interview, Bev! Your workspace is so serene and inspiring! I'm so jealous!
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