Step right this way... Each month a group of jewelry artists use their blogs to get together online and answer the same question - each in their own way. The topic this month is:
"Out of all the pieces you've created, which one means the most to you and why"
This one's easy. I still have three of the pieces that mean the most to me. They're battered and scarred, but I treasure them because they changed my life.
For 17 years I had been a make up artist doing commercials in LA when the actor's strike of 2000 hit. I ended up being out of work for 6 months. Besides being broke, I was bored out of my mind and was doing anything and everything I could think of to both entertain myself and pay the rent. During the span of the strike a couple of events converged that helped me imagine my life in a new light.
Luckily, a friend who was an Imagineer at Disney needed help on a big project and hired me to create some props for a Sinbad ride that was going into the new park in Japan. I painted children's toys in exotic designs ( I especially loved a small horse on wheels - wish I had a pic of it) and strung miles and miles of crystals, gem chip beads and plastic pearls into the strings of bling that spilled out of the many treasure boxes in Sinbad's cave. After the job was done I was cleaning out my couch cushions and found quite a collection of goodies that had migrated into the depths. I couldn't just throw them away - so I made my first piece of beaded jewelry with a focal piece that I bought at the local bead store. Which I had never stepped toe in before. Fun!
Being a make up artist consists of a lot of running around the set - back and forth to the trailer, over to craft services and sneaking in front of the camera to powder noses. The strike was wreaking havoc with my non exercise work out regimen! So I started to take a long morning walk around my neighborhood. I live very close to a charming yet touristy Main Street shopping area and early morning window shopping seemed just the thing to take my mind off the fact that I was actually doing something healthy.
About 3/4 of a mile down there was (and is) a storefront with pretty jewelry in the window called Precious Metal Arts. A jewelry making studio! Oooh! I decided to go back when they were open to enquire. I did. But found out that classes were around $400.00 and as I've said before - I wasn't makin' much money. Disappointed, I walked back out the door when I noticed a piece of paper far down the window that had $50 printed on it. Well, that was worth stooping for so I took a look at the description of a class on something called Metal Clay. Hm. What did that mean? So I went back in, asked and signed up on the spot for my first experience with the great grey goop.
Well, I fell in love, started making beaded jewelry with PMC focals - mostly words and custom initial earrings - and selling in Farmers Markets and craft shows around town. A few years later someone at a show suggested that I start teaching and the rest is history.
What happened to my make up career? Honestly the strike couldn't have happened at a better time. I was never good at the networking thing, was tired of the egos and the long hours and decided to let that phase of my life mosey off into the sunset. I got calls for work for a couple of years, but wasn't doing any active campaigning for jobs so when they fizzled to an ember - I let the job die a natural death. And I've never been happier. I totally miss the money. Any job in the industry pays stupid big wages, and craft service (a table loaded with food at all times) was fun, but the lack of stress, addition of sleep coupled with the ability to set my own hours making beautiful fine silver jewels? Priceless!
Be sure to check out the other carneys to see what they have to say: