What led you to start creating your art/craft?
Technically? Being trapped at “home” recovering from surgery and forbidden to do anything active, combined with reverse culture shock, unemployment and a general dissatisfaction with the direction my life was taking. Yes, I know, it sounds a bit like the plot for one of my late grandmother’s “stories.” But it’s all too true. Essentially, due to the need for emergency (minor) surgery, I’d been forced to pack up my flat and two years of my living and working in Prague (the capital of the Czech Republic) in all of two days—one day for each year that I’d built up my little expat life. I had been planning to return home to the States anyway—just not that suddenly or under such unfortunate circumstances.So, there I was, recuperating at my parents’ house while they were gallivanting about Europe with my then 8-year-old nephew—a trip that I was supposed to have joined when they went through Prague. I wasn’t bedridden, I just couldn’t walk without massive amounts of pain and I was recovering at about 1/20th of the predicted pace. Feeling lost, confused, out of my element, and yea, a bit depressed, I needed to occupy both my brain and my hands. I’d always longed for a creative outlet that I could do alone, and that would use my hands. I’d tried my hand at painting, drawing, freeform pottery (no wheel) and, I think it’s safe to say that I failed at all of them. Already being a bit down in the dumps I wanted to attempt an art that I thought I might have a reasonable chance for success with. And that is how I came to design and handcraft jewelry and now, rosaries.
How did you decide what medium you wanted to work with?
As I mentioned, I’d already ruled out a fair number of mediums based on my obvious lack of talent. Both my sister and one of my closest friends made jewelry at the time—though my sister now only does so by special request—so I knew that I had two talented ladies to rely on for tips, techniques, advice, etc. I’d always loved jewelry and, with the exception of preferring silver-toned pieces to gold, my tastes were wildly eclectic (much more so than my taste in clothing). I’m fascinated by color combinations and by seeing what colors can be thrown together to make someone happy, even if others would argue that the colors “clash.”Determined to start on my own and only call upon my friend or sister if desperate, I did what a lot of people do when they’re housebound. I shopped online! And boy did I shop! I ordered gobs and gobs of beads, supplies, tools, etc.
What aspect of creating your art/craft do you find most enjoyable?
I’m a planner, and yet I’m oddly bad about visualizing future results. For example, every time I get my hair cut and the stylist asks me what I’d like, I always say, “Um, I don’t know. Something different?” He or she shows me some pictures and asks what I think and my answer is always, “Sure, whatever you recommend. You’re the professional.” Why am I so lackadaisical about my hair style? Because I find it impossible to imagine what my face will look like with that hair cut. With designing jewelry it’s different, I open all of my various storage containers and start picking out beads, semi-precious gemstones, shells…I organize them on my beading board to resemble an image in my head or, I move them around until I have a combination of color and style that I like. Essentially, I can see the finished product before I begin the actual process of making the piece. I love this! I can’t help it, I love to plan!
If you had to choose a fruit or a vegetable to describe your art/craft, what would you choose and why?
If you had to choose another medium in which to display your creativity, what would it be and why?
Decoupage. I love decoupage. As of yet, I’ve only tackled a couple of projects—one a table that I call “I’m in the money!” because it’s covered in bills and coins from around the world, and one an old magazine stand that I picked up for $3 at a thrift store and gave new life to through the torn up and antiqued pages of a trashy old German romance novel that I discovered at a library book sale. I have all of these decoupage projects swirling around in my head that are not yet solid enough for me to turn into reality but, when they are, I’ll make them. Oh! And woodcraft. My Opa (Austrian grandfather) was a master craftsman and my father’s two hobbies are cycling and working with wood. I grew up in a house in the States where all of the furniture but the beds and the couch were handcrafted by my father or my Opa. And I spent my summers in a house outside of Vienna that had been built from the bottom up by my father and his father and every non-electrical item in that place was built by my Opa. I would love to learn the craft. However, my dad will never teach me. Something about the danger of combining me with power tools. LOL. Can’t say that I blame him.
What message, if any, do you want to convey with your art/craft?
Happiness, laughter, joy, sometimes sadness, sometimes sexiness, sometimes faith. For me it’s about emotions rather than messages. I make Catholic rosaries and Anglican prayer beads (also referred to as “rosaries”) not out of a faith of my own but out of a respect for the faith of my mother, my friend, the man sitting across from me on the Metro…Everything I make is for the purpose of providing someone with the ability to convey, if only to themselves, an emotion they’re experiencing (or want to experience) at a particular moment.
What advice do you have for other artists/crafters?
Ha! I feel like I’m in no position to give advice. There have been many days of late when I’ve wanted to just give up. And it’s really only the feeling of frustration that these thoughts bring on that stops me from doing so. About the only thing I can say is… make yourself happy with what you do and that will spread to others.
BRIG, thanks for a delightful interview, and for sharing your creations with everyone! You can learn more about Brig by clicking on the links below.