Erin Prais-Hintz is this month’s guest in my series of interviews with bead artists. I cannot express how thrilled I am that she agreed in participating. Erin is a very gifted artist who is well known for her beautiful jewelry and her inspirational beads as well as a writer for the blogs Art Bead Scene, Earrings Everyday and Halcraft. 2 weeks ago I couldn’t resist and I signed up for the Simple Truths Sampler Club for the second time. Let’s find out more about the person behind Simple Truths and Tesori Trovati. Meet Erin Prais-Hintz.
Q: Can you tell us more about the beginning of your career as a jewelry and bead artist? Were you always an artist? If not, what made you decide to change your career and how did you experienced this transition?
Thanks for this opportunity to share a little bit about myself!
I have always been creative in some way. I like to say that my first piece of jewelry involved macaroni and yarn, but really it wasn’t until I was in college that I made my first piece. I remember going to a little bead shop on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin where I went to school and finding pairs of beads to make my own earrings. I can remember that I bought cloisonné beads and thought they were very fancy indeed! It wasn’t until a number of years later that I picked up the beading bug again. I started making my own jewelry and donating it to charitable causes for auctions. Then people started asking me to make things for them with their grandmother’s brooches or found objects or mother’s bracelets with their kid’s birthstones. But the first time I really felt like a jewelry designer was when my college roommate was diagnosed with breast cancer in her mid-30s. I had a vision of a piece of jewelry for her to wear during her treatments… a charm bracelet with gemstone dangles with healing properties. I did a lot of research on those stones and although I had never done a wrapped loop, I forged ahead and did about 100 of them on that bracelet. I do know that she was blown away by the gesture, including the card with all the gemstone properties on it that I created. From there I knew that I could come up with meaningful pieces of jewelry, not just pretty things.
Q: Do you work full time as an artist?
Sadly, I do not work full time as an artist. I do have a mostly full-time job, and a full life running after my active teenage children. I spend a lot of time envisioning what I would like to do next. My life, my office, my home is filled with scattered bits of paper with sketches and lists and all sorts of to-dos. It has become increasingly more and more obvious that I need to be making art on a full-time basis, but for now, with college costs looming, I have to be content with spinning wild creative ideas in my head, snatching any precious minutes I can to actually create, and working until the wee hours most days to bring these creative ideas to life.
Q: If I understand correctly you were a jewelry artist before making your own beads. Why did you decide to venture out in this direction?
I started by stringing beads in a very conventional and traditional way. Then I got bored with that and started shaking things up a bit and making them asymmetrical and filled with an odd assortment of found objects. Then I discovered art beads. And my world was rocked! I remember the first time I paid $35 for a bead. In fact, I am certain that I still have that one! I had my first solo art exhibit in 2010 called “Inspired by,” and I used the art from several artists in the co-op gallery where I was exhibiting as my inspiration. Then I set out to pair that art with an art bead artist. I asked those bead artists from around the world to make me a set of beads in their style and chosen medium based on the art. No other parameters. They were jazzed up! No one ever asks a bead artist to just follow their Muse, so they were eager to play along with me. I created 78 pieces of art jewelry (mainly necklaces and bracelets), based on 11 works of art with beads from 13 different bead artists. It was one of the most successful art exhibits that the Gallery Q had ever had. After that, I was involved with a Mastermind type group that was dedicated to artists making art. Since I had just had a show of my own, I set my goal for the group to make my own components. I was reading a book at the time by Patti Digh called “Four Word Self Help” and I liked the pithy little illustrations and the clever word plays. I decided that would be my inspiration and set out to make components. I tried resin and stamping… just couldn’t figure out what would light my fire. Then one day in the middle of December 2010 I read a tutorial by Heather Powers on the Art Bead Scene about making your own stamped jewelry with polymer clay set in bezels. I went out that night and bought a brick of clay and made the first of what has become know as my Simple Truths. The next week I brought them into work and they were immediately snapped up. That is when I knew I had something and started down that path.
Q: If you were forced to choose between these two, which would you prefer and why?
I actually have quite a hoard of beads, art beads and otherwise. I find that with my time so very limited I don't have enough hours to create jewelry with all that I have. I would really like to get back to just the making of jewelry and sometimes I give myself permission to do just that. I really love to make jewelry that is unique to the wearer. Custom work is my favorite! I never really know what will sell in a gallery or boutique and I much prefer to work with a client directly. The best compliment I receive is when I am told that the piece looks like it was made just for them (which of course, it was!). I don't even need to be with the person directly to make that happen. I have had clients around the world with pieces I have made all from emailing them. And when someone buys a piece that they find as it was exactly their style, I know that it was a treasure that was waiting to be found by just that person. I would rather that my work be more individual to the wearer, than instantly recognizable as "me."
What I would really love is to be able to spend a lot more time making my vision for components and beads come to life in a much more intensely artistic way, and then be able to take those and make art jewelry with those pieces.
Q: As a bead artist you mainly work with polymer clay. Why did you choose this medium? Are you planning to explore other materials as well in the future, like glass or ceramic? I have read you would like to work with metal?
I never really gave polymer clay a moment’s thought until 2010. I used to feel that it was just a kid’s craft material. I did know artists that did some beautiful things with the medium, but more often than not, I felt that it looked a bit to plastic or unfinished for my tastes. That was before I realized that it was such a chameleon material. It can be molded and shaped, inscribed and stamped, painted and stained. It can mimic gemstones and leather and metal and wood. I used it more as a canvas. I also love working with metal and wire, specifically copper and steel. I like to combine materials and techniques. Right now I am working on art for my collaborative exhibit for September and October 2016 and I am exploring all manner of mixed media techniques and materials. I would love to learn more about glass, but I think that is way out of my comfort zone. But I would really like to learn how to make my own bezels, so that I could include my own clay work in them, but haven’t found the time to do that and also created a space in my studio for that sort of work.
Q: Are you self-taught?
I am mostly self-taught. I do not have an art degree, so I am not bound by any ideas of what you can or cannot do. I find that my natural curiosity leads me to all sorts of discoveries and that is what I love to do. I have taken quite an array of classes over the years in more mediums and disciplines than I can count. And although I might not go home and immediately put all of those new-found skills into use, I eventually let them percolate and they seem to meld together into something new. There is a lot you can teach yourself by experimenting and being open to what might happen next, far more than just taking a class, reading a tutorial or buying a book and then just trying to make what is in there. I strive to push myself further than the class, tutorial or other instruction to create something that feels most authentically me.
Q: Can you tell us more about the work involved in making polymer clay beads?
It really is a lot about trial and error for me. For instance, I have an idea in my head for my interpretation of the February 2016 Art Bead Scene artwork… a highly patterned and bold colored cover of Vogue magazine from 1925 by designer Sonia Delaunay. However, after spending the entire day on Sunday devoted to making this happen, I realized that my vision was not presenting itself. So now I am back to the drawing board to scrap it, or maybe even transform it. I set out each month to not only interpret the art from the Art Bead Scene, but also pushing myself to learn something new with clay. It is a very short time frame for this to happen so I really have to focus. A lot of my work involves setting my clay in a metal bezel that becomes the holder for the art. From there it is a matter of playing and working pattern, texture and color. No two are ever alike, and that is just the way I like it!
Q: What inspires you in your work?
I really believe that inspiration is everywhere. I am inspired by nature in all of its wonders. Poetry and song lyrics and any messages that are positive and affirming typically show up in my work and give my work purpose rather than just being a pretty thing. Pattern and texture are as important to me as color. Lately I have been inspired by mixed media techniques and I am working on ways to bring them together with the clay in particular.
Q: The name of your brand is Tesori Trovati, Italian for “treasures found”. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind this name?
When I first started creating, I was working with a public relations friend on my first website and branding. She thought that I needed to have some categories on my website that defined the types of jewelry that I was making. At the time I was working a lot with found objects. I wanted to define that style in a way that was magical and had a bit of flair to it, so I stumbled on Google Translate. Originally, I was going for something with a French flair, but then switched to Italian, and I really liked the way it sounded! My actual company name is something quite different, and I really should have reconsidered it before setting that up with the state! Tesori Trovati is Italian for “treasures found” and it embodies exactly what I feel about all of my artwork… I do believe that everything I make is not only filled with treasures but is waiting to be found by the right person.
Q: You are designing jewelry and components, you write blog posts for your own blog and are a regular contributor to Art Bead Scene, Everyday Earrings and Halcraft. What does a typical day in the life of Erin looks like?
People often ask me how I do all that I do. The answer is that often I don’t really know! I used to say this was my “9-midnight foolishness,” but it really is something that I now think about and work on around the clock. I don’t have a chance to be in my studio every day because I have a mostly full-time job and I have a family including two high school students that are very busy. So I have to be very deadline oriented. When I do get time in my studio it is usually trying to stick to the one thing that I need to finish that day. I wish that I could be more proactive and I am trying, but truthfully, the last minute is the only way that I get things done!
Q: Is there a particular bead and/or jewelry artist you admire or whom you consider a role model?
One of my best beady friends and mentors is Heather Powers. I admire her for the art she creates, the branding she maintains, the different artistic avenues she pursues (did you know she is also a gifted children’s book illustrator?), the connections she makes, the way she so willingly shares her expertise in teaching and workshops, the books that she has written. There are too many other artists that I admire to name. I treasure each and every one of them and feel blessed that I have had the opportunity to not only own their art, and use it in mine, but also that I have made friends with so many from around the world.
Q: If you were not a bead and jewelry artist, what would you be doing?
I was trained as a teacher and I would love to get back to teaching, but more in the art and mixed media and jewelry realms. I would also enjoy writing more, specifically books. I enjoyed the DVDs and the television appearances that I have made and would love to participate in more opportunities like that. I have a dream of opening my own art retreat destination similar to one that I attended a few years ago that has since closed. But that might be a ways off in the scheme of things! For now I am content to explore all the options that come my way, honing my skills and developing my own style of art.
Q: Do you have a life motto and if so, would you like to share this with us?
“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.” ~ Anonymous
I use that quote to end every email. It has become a motto. I believe that you need to find your ‘something good’ in every day. Usually, that ‘something good’ finds me! This interview is certainly a ‘something good’!
I also like this quote by Thomas Edison: “There is a way to do it better. Find it.”
I think that is what keeps me on my toes and seeking out new creative pathways.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t share this gem that my Dad is always fond of saying:
“Life is not a dress rehearsal.”
That reminds me that I have to give it all I’ve got now and not wait for the real performance to begin!
Q: Do you have tips, tricks or advise you like to share with us?
I don’t know that I have any tips or tricks that are truly exclusive to me.
I believe that every single person is called to be creative. It does no one any good to compare themselves to others, especially in the realm of “creativity.” Your creative nature will not be the same as mine. And that is okay. More than okay! Because the world would be a sad place if we all had the same talents. Find what speaks to your heart and make that your own, without being swayed by what you think that others would want. The world is waiting for your unique light to shine, not to attract those that would reflect that light back, but that you can be a beacon for others moving forward and forging their own path.
Thank you Erin for taking the time in your very busy schedule to do this interview. I believe you are a great inspiration to the art, bead and jewelry world. I wish I lived in the neighborhood to visit your collaborative exhibit in September and October 2016. I love the quote’s that have become your life motto. Your wonderful spirit shines through this interview and through your beads.
Don't forget to visit her inside the studio blogpost of last friday on art bead scene.
This month we have two wonderful gifts to give away.
Give Away 1
Erin generously contributed this gift voucher. The lucky winner will get a discount of 20 USD on his/her purchase in Erin's webshop.
Give- away 2
The winner will get a custom made necklace (value 40-50 USD) made by moi with one of these gorgeous handmade art beads by Erin. I received these pendants in my first membership of the Simple Truth sampler club.
How can you enter this give-away?
If you are a regular reader of my interviews you know the drill by now.
If you are here for the first time: entering is very simple, all you have to do is comment on this post, to get a change to win one of these give-aways.
There are lots of ways you can increase your chances of winning too...
Do any of the following and leave an additional comment each time and you will get an extra entry for each one:
· Share this give-away on your own blog
· Share this give-away on your Facebook pages, Google+, Twitter etc.
· Subscribe to my newsletter (see top of page, to the right hand side)
· Subscribe to Erin's blog
· Subscribe to my email-list (to receive special promotions)
· Become a follower of my facebook page
· Become a follower of the facebook page of Tesori Trovati
· Follow me on Pinterest
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. Follow me on google+
· Like my Etsy shop
. Like the Etsy shop of Erin
· Anything else you can think of to spread the word.
Don't forget to leave a separate comment for each method to maximize your chances though!
Don't worry if you don't see your comments appear immediately. I need to approve them first, otherwise spamrobots will be able to enter the give-away as well.
The draw will close at 10am GMT on Sunday March 6, 2016 and I will randomly select and announce the winners later that day.
The next artist in this series of interviews with Bead Artists will be Cathleen Zaring of Blue Hare Art Wear. So don't forget to come here often to see who it is going to be.
Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope to see you next time.
Want to read the interviews of 2014? Here is where you go. Next month I will publish all the interviews of 2015 in an E-magazine.