Arte Es Vida

An Interview WIth Rice Freeman-Zachary by arteesvida
December 18, 2006, 1:50 am
Filed under: Artist Interviews, Book Reviews

Rice Freeman-Zachery’s book Stamp Artistry is one of my absolute favorites. If your experience with rubber stamping has been limited to paper crafting, you have GOT to see the amazing projects in this book…many of which are directions for creating gorgeous, creative jewelry. With a new book out, just last month, entitled New Techniques For Wearable Art, and her regular articles in all my favorite magazines, I find that I always look to Rice to find out what is new and exciting in the art world. So you can imagine how exited I was when she was gracious enough to agree to this interview with BellaOnline!

Congrats on publishing your second book this year! I have your first book,
Stamp Artistry, and am currently working on the etched copper jewelry project out of it. I can’t wait for the second book to arrive! I love that your designs really stretches the boundaries. You use unusual materials and unusual techniques and come out with some really fabulous results. Where do your ideas come from?

I don’t know where I get ideas. I’ve always had “an active imagination,” and I guess they come from that-from the things I imagine in my head. Most adults seem to know the contents of their brains pretty well; mine is like a deep, dim closet crammed with so much stuff it’s impossible to tell what’s in there until something falls out. It surprises me all the time.

What are your passions? What motivates you as an artist?

My passion is making stuff. It always has been, as far back as I can remember. It’s not so much what I make as that I make something-it’s the act of creating, rather than the finished product. I’m happiest when I’ve got half a dozen things going at once, all in different stages, with some technical problems to solve-how to make something work the way I want it to-and some hand-work to do-beading or embroidery. I can’t stand to just sit-I have to have something to do all the time. When I wake up in the morning, I have some sort of stitching right there by the bed, so I can work on something while I’m drinking that first cup of coffee.

You write about your husband in your bio, and he sounds like such an amazing
guy. How has having a supportive partner helped you as an artist?

There’s no way I could do the things I do without my husband, Earl. Not only does he support me financially-and let me assure you that a freelance writer HAS to have some financial support-but he supports me creatively, too. He applauds what I do and makes all the right comments when I show him stuff. Perhaps most important, though, is his support of this lifestyle. I’m home all day, by myself, working. So when he gets home from school, I sort of chatter at him-some days I haven’t talked to a human all day. Our house is always a mess-there’s no dining room because it’s my sewing studio, with a 6-ft table sitting right in the middle of the room. I’ve taken over 3 rooms in our house, filled with the stuff I use. Most people wouldn’t put up with it, but it doesn’t bother him at all. Plus he travels with me when I teach, and so he meets people and knows what’s going on and remembers things I’d forget.

You collaborated with so many great artists to fill your books, but all of the projects still have a very cohesive quality to them. Where did you “find” all these great people and techniques, and what was it like working with them?

Most of the artists I worked with in the books are artists I’ve interviewed for magazines or met at art retreats. That’s the great thing about writing the profiles: I get to meet great artists I’d otherwise only read about. So I knew their style and knew it would work in the book.

Besides your books, you are a frequent contributor to many of my favorite
magazines. I’ve read in your biography that your background is in writing. Could you tell our BellaOnline readers about the magazines you write for, and any pieces coming out over the next few months we should watch for?

I started writing for Rubberstampmadness back in the early ’90’s, when I was
still teaching college English. My degrees are both in English, and my master’s thesis was a collection of poems-I thought I’d be a poet but got tired of years of rejections-tons of them. I loved writing for a magazine, where they liked what I sent them. Then, last year, Sharilyn Miller had me start doing profiles for the magazines she was editing: Art Doll Quarterly, Belle Armoire, and Somerset Studio. Up until then, she’d done the profiles herself; but editing magazines is hard work and takes a lot of time, and she needed someone else to do those. I love the work, and I never miss deadlines or forget interviews, etc, so it’s worked out well all around. It’s funny, but recently other writers have contacted me asking how they can do the profiles for those magazines, thinking, I guess, that maybe I don’t want the job and will tell them how to get it. Wrong! I love the job and am happy to have it!

I know you create many different types of art, but I was immediately drawn
to your jewelry designs…no surprise there! They are so unique and fun! Can you tell us a little bit about the jewelry you make?

I’d love to be able to cast metal and do fabrication, but I know nothing about either and don’t have the tools or jewelry bench set-up. I don’t like plastic, and paper jewelry doesn’t seem sturdy to me. So I turned to cloth-naturally! It lasts longer than most other materials except metal,
and you can do almost anything on it. I love stamping and photo transfers and beading, and these are perfect for fabric jewelry.

I’d love to take classes and learn more, but where’s the time? I’m either writing or making stuff all the time, every day. I wish I could clone myself, have about half a dozen of me so I could do all the things I want to do.

What’s “next” for you as an artist? Do you have anything new you will be
introducing? Or some ideas you can’t wait to try?

Right now I’m working on a bunch of bags for a local show-I’m having a ball and coming up with a ton of ideas, and I wish there were a way to carry all the bags I’m making-I’m not much for carrying a purse, but I’m going to start because these are so much fun-you get to meet people when they come up and ask about them. I’m also playing with more ways to embellish fabric-all
the kinds of things you can do to plain, un-colored cotton, from dyeing to stamping to painting to adding text and pictures, embroidery and beads. There are so many things to try and products to test-it’s great fun!

Do you have any favorite resources (books, magazines, videos, websites) that
you would recommend to us?

Well, of course I’d recommend the magazines I write for! And the other one I think is excellent is Quilting Arts-I keep trying to get Pokey (Bolten, the editor) to hire me-I love her magazine. My all-time favorite book is Native Funk and Flash, where I got inspired back in 1974 to start doing funky stuff to all my clothes. I’d like to recommend other books and websites, but I know so many terrific artists that I don’t dare mention some of their books or sites and risk forgetting someone else equally as good-I’d hate to forget anyone.

And lastly, what advice would you give to BellaOnline readers who are new to
jewelry making and those of us who are learning how to market our work for resale?

Work hard every day. That’s the main thing-I know people who are amazingly creative and have lots of ideas, but they never get around to doing anything with them. They watch TV and go out to lunch and have art dates with their friends, but they never buckle down and do the hard work of learning techniques and skills and then mastering the ones they need to create what’s in their head. If all the creative people I’ve known over the years would work hard to achieve their dreams, there’d be a BUNCH more art in the world! You’ve got to decide whether or not your art is important to you. If it is, then you should treat it like you do eating and sleeping-take it seriously and do it every day. Unfortunately, we let society tell us how we’re supposed to spend our time, rather than realizing that claiming time to create is the most important thing we can do to make our lives richer.

Rice Freeman-Zachery is a free-lance writer and artist who lives in Midland, TX with her husband Earl. You can see more of her fabulous work on her website: Voo-Doo Cafe.

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