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.

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 .

Holy Moly — An Interview With Gloria Page by arteesvida
December 14, 2006, 1:05 am
Filed under: Artist Interviews, Book Reviews

I have read several books on the business of art, but this one was truly different. Holy Moly Mackeroly by Gloria Page is more than your typical how-to…Gloria’s book doesn’t just give you the basic tools to start your own art or craft business, but actually inspires you into it. Whether you are already involved in the business of art or just starting to think about moving in that direction, this book will do more than just give you the basic tools needed to start your own art or craft business. It will also motivate you to do so, feel much more comfortable about the trials and errors of the process, and leave you insisting that you have known Gloria your whole life!I’m not the only person out there waxing poetic about Gloria’s book. A Yahoo group was born last year by fans of her book, and there was an article published about them in the September/October issue of RubberStampMadness entitled “Holy Moly! Royal Mackerolies Explore Uncharted Waters!” Only a year in print and the book is becoming an art culture phenomenon!After finishing Gloria’s book, I couldn’t wait to talk about it. And who better than the Mistress of Mackeroly, Gloria herself?

I think your book is a prime example of the fact that you don’t have to be a John Grisham or Janet Evanovich to be a successful author. You have managed not only to publish Holy Moly Mackeroly but guide it to success. How does it feel to be the proud momma of a book that is not only thriving, but still gaining steam on its one year anniversary?

I love your reference to being a “momma” when it comes to writing / ”giving birth” to a book! Forget 9 months! I figured I could write it in three months and when I went into the second year, well, I understood about the Writing Life in combination with the Working Artist Life: it takes time to process the two. At one point – two years to the day of beginning writing – it was time to do a wrap and go to print. Self-publishing is quite an experience…How does it feel? It is the single most rewarding experience in my art-life, second only to having my two sons in my personal-life. The Dream of writing a book has been with me for as long as I can remember. I practiced signing my name in “cool ways” from the time I could hold a pencil – you know, for the book signings in the future. And it has happened, at age 49. The goal was before 50, so I slid in on that one! My life has completely changed since June 17th, 2002, when 2,000 books were delivered to my door on two huge palettes.And then hearing from people from literally all over the world who are reading it and responding with their own stories is beyond my dream. We have gone into-the-book and we have gone beyond-the-book as new friends trekking the art-life together.

 What first motivated you to write HMM to begin with?

The thought came to me gradually without my realizing it, and then “zapped” me one night while taking a hot bath in the middle of the night. Lightning in water is quite something! (That was at the end of 1998. I thought about it everyday of 1999.)I was wondering what I could do as my next step in my business at that juncture. I was making 10,000+ greeting cards a year, doing art shows, and many other art-adventures and wanted to pull it all together. Over the years, I had given talks every semester at the University of Missouri in the Creative Process class. My story inspired the students and inspired me to see my experiences as a series of stories, and in that middle-of the-night thinking-soak, I saw it all come together as a BOOK! It was like seeing it unfold as I was watching. I knew the title of the book and saw all of these individual stories line up. I realized that my experiences, as simple and humble as they were, could be a source of encouragement for people considering the “art-life.” That was my biggest motivation.Motivating factors:
– Encouraging others
– Not wanting to die before I wrote a book, darn it!
– I want my children to pursue their dreams: being an example is better than giving advice
– I wanted to thank people in my personal life and in my business life; writing a book was a wonderful way to do that.

Your book is very different from other books on the business of art on the market. Although I have read many of them, the rest just run together. HMM stands out as something truly unique. I have heard it described differently by others who have read it, but I would to hear it expressed in your own words. What makes HMM stand out from other books geared towards professional or aspiring-to-be-professional artists?

I like being different! Thanks for that! The title, cover art and the fact that there is a Foreword, Forward, Backward and Onward give you a glimpse into “different”!As I was developing my business (in 1993) from the days of making miniature Victorian grapevine wreaths to stamping 18 bookmarks with three Southwest stamps, I would look for support in the form of people to talk with and books to read. I couldn’t find any people who were doing an art business in my “world” at that time, and the books I found about The Business of Art always intimidated me. I never bought even one because I could never get past the Table of Contents and even the covers made me squirm. Something always so polished and “professional” about them, something in the tone that made it all seem so daunting.I just wanted to talk with some friendly person that’s all! I wanted to ask questions and be free to sound dumb, and I wanted to simply have a conversation with a human being who was willing to be honest with me. Spreadsheets and lists of formidable tasks, a formal Business Plan and a lot of legal jargon were just not my ideas of what I needed or wanted at the time. So, I wrote the book that I wished I could have found.I am not a “big shot” artist who has gone to such heights that the beginner cannot relate to. I am still a beginner in many ways, so there is not this huge gap between us. I have many experiences that I can share, and I will tell you about boredom and frustration and the “starving artist” syndrome and what it is like to be freaked out about your first art show. I will also talk about people moving you to tears when they tell you how much your artwork means to them… There are internal and external aspects to starting anything new and building it up from there. If we have a safe place to face and voice our fears and insecurities we can get to the starting point. If we explore these realms openly, then we can go arm-in-arm into the story, and process together how to look at these situations from a few different angles. A conversation – that was my goal, and when people from all over the world tell me that they felt like they had a “new best friend” while reading, well, I’ve had some tears over those messages.

My favorite quote is this one:
“A thousand mile journey begins with one step.” – Chinese Proverb

My book is about getting ready for that first step and the joy of taking it.

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

I love creating things that people cherish either personally for their own homes or personal enjoyment, or artwork that will become gifts and part of a bigger story. If a card I make is used for a special occasion, expressing love from one person to another, I am honored. If my published artwork inspires readers to create, hurray!Learning new things is a passion of mine. It is so enriching to inherit from others and then take it into myself and put my own signature on it. My stamping went from paper to fabric to clay. From 3 rubber stamps to countless printmaking tools and handcarved blocks which are a specialty. As a student I gain, as a teacher I keep learning!Laughter is also very important to me. Humor is a wonderful thing and I have had many people tell me they laugh and cry when reading it…and I love hearing that. I wanted to write a book that had deep points with a light heart.I am passionate about my family and about love in the world. Finding it, adding to it, nurturing it and demanding that we can find a better way of life on our lovely planet.

How about writing – love it! And the list goes on…for more passions, see the book: it’s filled with them…

What’s “next” for you as an artist?

So many people have contacted me and have said: “You wrote in your book that you are going to write a second. WHEN? I was so sad when I had to say that I was ‘finished’ with the first one…”I am so excited to be able to say that Marney Makridakis, the Editor and sparkling-heart of Artella (zine and e-zine) will be co-authoring with me. The second book will be a collection of stories by women artists from all over the world. We have made initial steps with that adventure. It will start out as an e-book and the idea is to pull out all the stops and see what we can do creatively and collaboratively.Also, I will continue my card business in a limited way and expand my work in handmade tiles. More writing for publications is on the horizon and also hopefully the licensing of my designs for a line of fabric stamps. There’s more, but that sounds good for now.

Although primarily work with paper arts, you work in many other different media, including some jewelry design. Can you tell us a little about the jewelry items you designed and your experiences marketing and selling those items in particular?

Over the years I have tried different jewelry techniques and I am the BEGINNER of beginners, trust me! Years ago I made these brooches that I loved and sold at an art show – sold them out actually. They were paper collage on mat board with a thick sealer over the top. I used Japanese papers and the cards for the pins were fashioned of handmade paper.Another jewelry effort: Raku-fired pins. That is a bit of a story but here’s the short version: I did a major article for Somerset Studio magazine called “The Tile Project.” While making the tiles, I had scrap stoneware and decided to make a few buttons and pieces that could be made into pins.Those got fired and that turned into another article for the then-new Belle Armoire magazine! Sharilyn Miller and I collaborated on several jewelry pieces and she did a fabulous job with my small tiles and buttons.My jewelry marketing experience has been through fine art shows and I have had good response over the years. It hasn’t been a focus in my business, more of an artistic diversion that is fun for me! (I love to trade for jewelry at art shows with my neighbors!)

What advice would you give to readers who are currently marketing their work or just starting to get interested in doing so?

First, take a deep breath (a few is better!) and smile! Relax. A cup of tea (hot chocolate, or you name it because you love it) by your side is a good idea.Next, please find comfort in knowing that you are not alone in having a desire, a need, or a curiosity about exploring the life of an artist. Sharing the Path makes it more interesting and if you connect with Artists-of-Heart, your whole Life and Being will be enhanced. You are not alone; remember that.Third and final point for this moment: it is so important to understand that you can take all of this one step at a time. No leaping, no panic attacks over the abyss are necessary. Who said that you have to give up everything in order to try something new? How about part-time bliss? How about just trying it on for size and giving your internal self the opportunity to spread her wings?Quietly whisper to yourself: “A thousand mile journey begins with one step.”
I look forward to meeting you on the way…