Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Feature -- Lemonade Handmade Jewelry

This week's featured SF Etsy artisan is Marja, the creative force behind Lemonade Handmade Jewelry. Her shop is full of fantastic circles and beautiful shiny things! I especially love this gorgeous fine silver bracelet:

Enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

I make jewelry that combines metalsmithing and wire wrapping to create pieces that have bold, modern shapes with unexpected delicate details. I really enjoy playing with contrasts- for example, I love the foil of rough-hewn, oxidized silver against delicate gold wire. You'll see a lot of that in my designs. Right now I'm trying to stretch my aesthetic and my skill set- doing some more delicate and refined pieces, like the O earrings in my wedding collection:

I'm also working on building a greater collection of statement pieces like my blacksmith necklace, while still trying to keep the same underlying aesthetic that makes all the pieces recognizable as lemonade handmade.

I started off doing primarily wire-work- this was a hobby of mine for a number of years. This past fall I began learning metalsmithing, and once I picked up a torch I KNEW it was for me. It's great to be able to combine these two methods into something that feels uniquely mine. I've taken a number of different classes over the years, from pearl knotting to basic metalsmithing, but a lot of what I do is self- taught, trial and error.

There is no great mystery to my creative process. Lots of times, I create a new design because it's something I wish I had in my own jewelry wardrobe, like the quintet necklace:

Other times, I'll learn a new skill and then suddenly see all of my existing designs in a different way. I'll start doing riffs on existing designs- I could combine THIS with THIS!- until I reach an entirely new place. More often than not, though, my design ideas far outpace my skill set, so I have to go out and learn another technique to make what I already have in my head. I really, really want to learn Keum-Boo right now, which is an ancient Korean metalsmithing technique for bonding gold to silver.

2. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?

The fabulous SF Etsy team (of course) as well as the Aspiring Metalsmiths Team (a group of metalsmiths in various stages of training and experience who come together to support one another and provide feedback).

3. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

Let's see. I was trained as a clinical psychologist, and I'm married to a fantastically funny, freakishly smart fellow psychologist- we sat next to each other in our research lab in grad school. We are the second couple to meet and get married in that small lab- there's something in the air there, I tell you. Before I headed full bore into jewelry, I was using functional neuroimaging techniques to try to understand the neural underpinnings of some of the emotional disruptions in people diagnosed with schizophrenia (that's a mouthful, huh?). In that former life, as well as now, I've always liked to keep my hands busy- knitting, cooking, gardening, making jewelry.

4. How did you get involved with Etsy?

I was a huge Etsy fan even before I opened my shop, and was continually awed by the incredible creativity I saw. In fact, I was a bit daunted about the prospect of opening my own shop given the amazing work I saw out there. But last year July (on my birthday!) I posted my first item, and it's been a fantastic experience on the whole. I don't think I expected the level of community I've found on Etsy, and I'm grateful for it.

5. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

TIME! As a mom of two (ridculously awesome) small kiddos still working (very) part time in psychology, I'm always struggling to find the time to do all that I'd like to for my business. I have a gazillion designs in my head that I have yet to realize, so many metalsmithing skills I'm dying to acquire, so many improvements I'd like to make in my photographs, and so much more I'd like to do in terms of building and promoting my brand. It's a real struggle to find balance (not that this is news to the lion's share of Etsy-ers out there). Sometimes I get a window of uninterrupted time in the studio, and that is bliss. Other times, those cloth diapers just need to be washed (seriously. they do.).

6. What crafting skill(s) do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?

If I could wave a magic wand and give myself any (non metalsmithing) crafting skill it would be sewing. I am seriously sewing- impaired. I have a number of friends who just whip up dresses for their daughters, or cool Roman blinds, or a duvet cover, and OH HOW I envy them. So, if you have any magic sewing dust that you'd like to throw my way, that would be great.


Alicia Dabney said...

You have lovely work and stunning photography!

LoriDelisle said...


Leaf and Tendril said...

Great interview Marja. I love your work, and am always envious of your photos of it! I have toyed with the idea of picking up a torch myself, I really think I might give it a try reading your interview... :)


Angelina Fong Designs said...

I just checked out her shop and it's so lovely! I second Alicia's earlier comment: stunning photography! I'm always impressed by moms and wives who are still able to find time to run a business on the side. Great interview!

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