Lovely readers, guess who is my guest this month?
Yes, the very sweet and talented UK polymer clay and jewelry artist Leah Curtis. Leah makes beautiful beads (I adore her roses and birdies) as well as gorgeous jewelry in which she incorporates her beads. On top of that she creates the monthly magazine The Beading Glass to inspire bead and jewelry artists. The magazine showcases a number of artists from around the world in photo galleries and personal interviews. And now you get to know more about this lovely lady herself.
Q: Can you tell us a bit of the beginning of your career as a bead and jewelry artist?
A: What really got me interested in making jewelry was wire work and gemstones. I love nature and natural materials, gemstones, and I love creating something from basic materials (like stones and wire).
I came across the work of Sheelah Goh and was so inspired I had to give wire wrapping a try. This was back in 2009. Around the same time, I found the work of polymer clay artist Claire Maunsell (Stillpoint). Her style, like Goh's wire work, is so organic, flowing and beautiful.
From that inspiration in 2009, I became more interested in making jewelry and started selling my creations in 2011. I continued working with polymer clay, but it wasn't until 2012 that I opened my Etsy shop to sell my handmade beads and jewelry. Since then, it's been an absolute dream!
Q: Do you work full time as an artist?
A: Yes, I do. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do this full time. On the other hand, it takes a lot of work to stay organized, promote your work, and still have time to be creative. I think it's important to step back and make sure you're getting that creative time or else it becomes too restrained.
Q: Why did you choose polymer clay as a medium to work with? Are you planning to explore other materials as well in the future, like glass, ceramic, metal?
A: At first, I chose polymer clay because it was familiar. I had played with it as a child, as most of us probably have. When I saw what could be done with it - the organic textures, finishes, etc. that could be achieved - I fell in love with the material.
I do plan to use other materials in future bead making. I have tried some enameling and am now practicing with metal clay. I hope to offer a sampling of copper clay beads and charms in my shop soon.
I am very keen to expand into lampwork and ceramics. I want to try it all! Once I have more space, I plan to experiment with lampwork glass. For now, it's just research and dreaming!
Q: Are you self-taught?
A: I certainly am. I would love to take some courses in other mediums, but the skills I have now have all been gained from personal research and practice. There's a lot of information on the internet for beginners, and once you get the basics down, it just expands from there. I love experimenting with polymer clay, paints, metals, etc. to include in my beads and jewelry.
Q: What inspires you in your work?
Nature and wildlife are one of my biggest inspirations for both my jewelry and beads. I love organic textures, animals, botany...anything to do with nature inspires me.
Of course, I'm also inspired to see what other artists (in any medium) are doing. Seeing people push the envelope and try new things is a motivator in itself.
Q: Your business name is Beady Eyed Bunny. Could you tell us a bit more why you choose that name?
A: Now, that is a long story!
The only thing holding me back from opening an Etsy shop (and Facebook page) was the name. I wanted something fun and approachable. I love rabbits (it was a rabbit that got me started in volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation center as a teenager) and they always seem to crop up in my life.
One of my nicknames is also Bunny, so that combined with being bead obsessed turned into Beady Eyed Bunny.
Q: What does a typical day in the life of Leah looks like?
A: A typical work day involves messaging customers, sculpting and painting beads, photography, preparing listings, updating social media, searching for and ordering supplies, packing and shipping orders, and lots and lots of bead making!
At the end of the day, sometimes I get a chance to rummage through my bead collection and make jewelry. The creative aspects are a constant.
I spend a lot of time honing my skills and coming up with methods or materials to make my beads and jewelry better.
Q: Is there a particular bead and/or jewelry artist you admire or who you consider a role model?
For jewelry, I've always admired Sheelah Goh, Imnium, Songbead, Altered Alchemy, MiddleEarths Jewels, Drakonaria...the list goes on.
For polymer clay artists: Stillpoint, Humblebeads, MandarinDuck, JooJoo, Jennifer Morris, Malodora, Plume Vine... There really are too many too list!
Some other, non-polymer clay bead artists I admire are Scorched Earth, Soul Silver, Josephine Wadman, Bo Hulley, Meital Plotnik, Debbie Sanders, Greybirdstudio, and HappyFallout.
Q: If you were not a bead/jewelry artist, what would you be doing?
A: I'm actually interested in a lot of subjects besides beads and jewelry; although, you wouldn't have guessed! I imagine if I hadn't become this serious about my art/business, I'd be working in something to do with ecology, zoology, science, etc.
My plan for the near future is to return to studying to become an academic teacher, and hopefully study ecology further. I won't give up the creative side, though!
Q: Do you have a life motto and if so, would you like to share this with us?
A: I don't have a motto, but I do have an ethos. For me, working with my hands and creating something brings immense satisfaction. I think everyone has a creative bone or two in them (whether it's a tangible creativity like making beads or not) and that should be nourished and encouraged. Sometimes, we're afraid to try something because it won't turn out as good as we hoped. But if you mix that creativity with the challenge of trying and trying again, the result is tremendous satisfaction and pride in your work. That just makes you want to take the next step, but you have to take the first one to begin!
Q: Do you have tips, tricks or advise you like to share with us?
A: Just to keep trying and keep doing what you love. We all start somewhere, but the important thing is not to stop. Keep creating, trying new things, and doing what brings you happiness. And if you're already turning your passion into a business, remember to take a breather now and then and give yourself time to just be creative. Have fun!
Thank you so much Leah for this wonderful interview. Love to read how you came up with your name. And your future plans sounds great!
And of course this interview would not be complete without a give-away or two.
Leah Curtis offers a whooping generous gift voucher for $30, to be used in her etsy shop.
I have amassed quite some gorgeous roses from Leah. It's hard to part with some of them but I managed.
The winner can choose from these three bracelets:
Made with a beautiful rose from Leah, combined with a handmade ceramic bead from Bo Hulley beads, pearls, rose quartz, lilac stone and pyrite.
Made with a beautifl handmade rose by Leah Curtis, Lampwork bead by Grace Ma, handmade polymer clay bead by Too Aquarius, Greek ceramic washer and Czech glass.
Made with a rose and birdie from Leah, combined with vintage lucite, Czech glass beads and buttons.
How can you enter this give-away?
Very simple, all you have to do to enter 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 (yes you will enhance your changes of winning, so please do):
· 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 my email-list (to receive special promotions)
. Follow to the blog of Leah Curtis
· Become a follower of my facebook page
· Become a follower of the facebook page of Beady Eyed Bunny
· Follow me on Pinterest
. Follow me on google+
· Like my Etsy shop
. Like the Etsy shop of Beady Eyed Bunny
· 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!
Your comment will be visible after my authorization. So please don't worry if you don't see it immediately.
The draw will close at 10am GMT on Sunday February 1, 2015 and I will randomly select and announce the winners later that day.
The next artist in this series of interviews with Bead Artists is......Julie Wong Sontag from Uglibeads.
Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope to see you next time.