Arte Es Vida

An Interview With Sherri Haab by arteesvida
December 18, 2006, 1:46 am
Filed under: Artist Interviews, Book Reviews

Congratulations on your new book! I just got a copy of Dangles And Bangles in the mail and it is a lot of fun…my 8 and 5 year old have stolen my copy and planning their next creative adventures. I’ve also reviewed two of your other books on this site (Designer Style Jewelry and The Art Of Metal Clay) and both were really popular with BellaOnline readers. You are creating such a wide variety of interesting work…where do you get your ideas from?

I’ve been collecting ideas since I was a kid, keeping files of ideas since the 70’s. I was always interested in trying any new craft, even at an early age. Many ideas are recycled from childhood, for example using Shrinky Dinks® which were first introduced in the 70’s, modeling clay techniques and needle arts. I research trends in fashion, home décor and pop culture for ideas. I also keep informed on new products and art materials on the market. I have so many supplies at this point that my office looks like a craft store. Having the right supplies close at hand helps you to create spontaneously.

What was it like working with your daughter to create the latest book? Is she interested in collaborating with you again?

My girls started making crafts with me from the time they were toddlers. Michelle, who is the co-author of Dangles and Bangles, was just a baby when I started working on my first craft book, The Incredible Clay Book, Klutz Press. Actually, the best ideas in the Dangles book are hers. Kids are so much more creative than adults in my opinion—they don’t have limitations or doubt that sometimes block creativity. She is close to the age of the readers, so there’s a better chance that the projects will pass the “cool” test. We had a lot of fun working as a team we’re in the process of starting a new book together.

One of the things I really enjoy about Dangles And Bangles is that many of the projects are very inexpensive to make. Did you design them the projects with price in mind, or did that evolve naturally?

Both–Craft books need to be practical. These books are meant to be used and nothing is more frustrating than trying to locate a hard to find or expensive item. While I work, I always keep these questions in mind: “If I were a kid, are these common items I might find around the house?” and “Are the supplies and materials readily available in craft or variety stores”.

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

I love to make things! I think working with your hands is so satisfying. I enjoy many types of art and have always have been drawn to handmade things. Illustration, painting, sculpting, collage, fiber arts and jewelry design are my favorite subjects to study. Cooking, chocolate and rock music are other passions I can’t live without.

I’m motivated by the work of many great artists and craftspeople. There are too many to name, but thank goodness there are so many reference books to study. Attending art conferences and meeting other artists is also very inspiring.

Out of all the jewelry techniques you’ve mastered, what are your personal favorites?

My favorite techniques involve sculpting clay, both metal and polymer. I never really considered sculpting tiny objects a talent, but have discovered it’s something I enjoy, which translates as a talent. The techniques I’ve mastered stem from childhood, when my sister and I used to make tiny foods out of bread dough for our dolls. I’m still amazed that tiny clay sculptures can be fired into pure silver. I think if I had to choose, sculpting floral shapes out of metal clay would be my favorite technique.

There are so few print resources available about metal clay, your book The Art Of Metal Clay being one of them, but one of the most frequent questions I get is about the fundamentals of metal clay work. I noticed you’re a certified metal clay instructor and have been working with the medium since it was first introduced in the U.S. How did your involvement come about?

I was lucky enough to read a message about “silver clay” on a polymer clay group, back when message boards were pretty new on the net. I couldn’t wait to find out more. I researched until I found a class at Horizons in Massachusetts. I immediately signed up and flew out to take the class; I was so excited to know about this new material. At that time, very little technical information was available about metal clay. A few years later, I decided to become certified. I wanted to make sure I had all of the current information about the clay. I certified under Tim McCreight. He taught the group how to work with and properly fire metal clay. We also learned how to set stones, size rings, make beads and other techniques specific to metal clay. From there, I felt confident to start teaching and exploring more with metal clay.

Your books always show things I’ve never seen before. For example, the leather jewelry transfer technique in Designer Style Jewelry. So I’m really interested in seeing your future work. 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?

As a matter of fact, I do have a material I’m excited about working with and writing about. Because it’s a work in progress, I can’t disclose it until the book is released. There are few, if any project books currently on the market for this topic–I’ll keep you posted. I can tell you that I’m exploring more ideas with metal clay. It’s still such a new medium with so much potential; I’m excited about the possibilities.

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

“Art Jewelry Today” by Dona A. Meilach, Schiffer Books (this is a new book I just discovered, it’s full of inspiring pictures)

Art Jewelry, Bead and Button, Belle Armoire, Somerset Studio, Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion, Cloth Paper Scissors, Quilting Arts, and Marie Claire Idees (a French craft magazine).

(I’m a magazine junkie, I love arts and crafts magazines!)

(my site, books, gallery, events)
(altered books, mixed media art)
(mixed media, jewelry, collage)
(crafts projects, cool links, creative energy)
(crafts message boards, cool crafts)
(weekly talk radio, mixed media artist interviews)
(Kids how-to books-find my kids craft books here)
(polymer clay guild)
(PMC metal clay guild)
(my published books, adult and teen)

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

Here’s a quick list to think about when marketing your work:

1. Study the market and trends, read trade magazines such as Craftrends and Accessories.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask sellers/gallery owners what sells.
3. Always make sure you charge enough for your time, consider your overhead, materials, etc
4. Sell outright, not consignment if possible
5. Make sure your jewelry is well made, be professional.
6. Network with other artists, join guilds or online groups
7. Have confidence in yourself, this goes a long way when selling your original work.

Sherri Haab is the author of several how-to books and numerous magazine articles. She teaches craft and jewelry making classes, and is a certified metal clay instructor. She currently resides with her family in Utah. Her most recent book was co-authored by her daughter, Michelle Haab. For more information about her and her work, check out her website .

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