Thursday, October 31, 2013

Interview Series 2: Week 2 - SwitMartini

It looks like this series is going to be a huge success! Already I have more people interested than I originally thought I would!

While this is good, I’m worried about space!  You may find that instead of just on Thursdays, I may also post interviews on Tuesdays instead of the usual “filler” or “flashback” or whatever I post!  If I do this, you can all be certain I’ll post it where it can be seen!

The crafter I bring you today caught my eye originally on the front page of Zibbet, earlier this month, when I saw a Fordite pendant that I couldn’t stop looking at.  When she posted on my thread with interest to be part of this series, I was surprised (pleasantly of course!) and my response in that thread was that I had seen that pendant, and I remembered it, and remembered looking at the shop it came from.  Yes, okay, there were some squeals of delight, and rightly so.

Instead of trying to explain it all myself, I’ll let Pohlian of SwitMartini do all the talking!

Name :
Pohlian Lim
Craft :
handmade jewelry
Favorite materials :
My main favourite/love is minerals or stones. Next in line is Fordite. It is basically dried, hardened and baked layers of automobile paint used by automobile factories back in the good old days to spray automobile. The psychedelic patterns and colours can be so beautiful.
Your Most Popular Seller :
Serge Thoraval. I bought his set of seven rings with part of Edmond Rostand's poem "A Kiss" engraved on them from a quaint shop in Fremantle, Australia. I love his work.

4760636-original[1]Flow Pendant
This was the pendant I saw.  The wirework is so finely detailed, even for such a simple pendant!

DWJ(am!) What got you into your craft?

SwitMartini I collect a lot of minerals and stones. I have loads of jewellery made from stones and minerals. Due to constant wearing, the elastic bands gave way or the fine wire broke. Sending them to be repaired was quite a chore for me. I began to learn how to repair them. That grew into a hobby. It was a great stress-reliever as well. I made jewellery as gifts for my girlfriends instead of buying them gifts. One of them suggested that I should try selling handmade jewellery. I acted on her suggestion and this is what I'm doing today - handmade jewellery.

4752071-original[1] A Slice of Watermelon Necklace
An amazing idea for an amazing find of a stone!

DWJ(am!) How did you learn your craft?

SwitMartini I learnt the basics through craft books. The other great source of teaching materials is YouTube. I actually learnt the basics of wire wrapping stones from one of the video uploaded on YouTube. Then I slowly improvised on the methods to suit me and I developed my own flavour. There were some minerals which I purchased in their natural form (e.g. quartz clusters, quartz pointers, diopside clusters, druzies, etc) that were commonly bought as mineral specimens. I, on the other hand, thought that they would look great as jewellery. So I improvised the basic wire wrapping method to wire wrap minerals too.

DWJ(am!) What about YOU? Who is the artist behind those wonderful items?

SwitMartini I'm a lawyer by profession. I've been in practice since 1994. I practised as a corporate lawyer in my last firm. Law practice is interesting but very stressful. At the beginning of this year, I decided to take a break from my law practice. With lots of time on my hand I'm concentrating on making my jewellery. Prior to this break I made and sold my jewellery on a part-time basis. It was pretty much a hobby. Now I have my full concentration on it.

I participate in local bazaars (once or twice a month). I find that this is a good way to meet new customers. Online shopping has its benefits, convenience being the greatest advantage. However, there is still quite a number of people who prefer to see and try on the jewellery pieces before making their decision. Not many people in Malaysia know much about stones. So being physically available to attending to any questions on my jewellery is a plus point for them. I remember the look of wonder that a lady customer had when she picked up an emerald green coloured pendant with lots of tiny crystal points that sparkled in the light. She was intrigued by it but she had no idea what it was. I told her that she picked up a Kazakhstan Dioptase druzy pendant. That helped her appreciate the pendant more.

4739187-original[1] Cobalt Lapis Pendant
Such a simple stone made extraordinary with wirework and simple accents!


DWJ(am!) What is a typical "working" day for you? How does it usually start and end? How many hours do you spend crafting? How many hours do you spend on other things? What about distractions? I know we all have them! Do you usually accomplish all you wanted to?

SwitMartini My work usually starts between 9 am to 10.30 am. There are times when I need to get some house chores done first and in such instances, my work starts after lunch. I normally rotate the items to be created. One day, I'd be creating a piece for my Zibbet store. The next day I would be concentrating on creating my market items. Then the succeeding day I would do my orders. I review my plan from time to time to meet the different deadlines. My work also includes updating my stock, checking my Zibbet shop, entering the Zibbet community to keep abreast on what's going on, taking photos of my products and doing a write-up on my products. I also keep my fan page on Facebook ( updated regularly. On days when I work-out at the gym, I end my work earlier, at about 4 pm. On other days I normally end my work at about 7.30 pm. There are days when my crafting ideas are flowing or when I am really bent on seeing the finished piece, I can work up to 11 pm.

Not everyday is perfect. There are those non-productive days as well. I think we all have them. I like to plan at the beginning of the month. It is then that I have an overview on what needs to be done and how much time I have to get them done. I set out what must be accomplished for the month. Sometimes I'm overzealous and I fall short of what needs to be accomplished. Other times I get it right.

4739362-original[1] Serenity Pendant
A pendant worthy of a princess!

DWJ(am!) What happens when you Oops? Everyone gets one sometime or another! Do you get frustrated and destroy/start over, or do you go with the flow and see what comes out in the end?

SwitMartini This has definitely happened to me. I have my off-days. The lesson I learnt is when my crafting isn't fine, I should stop! There are many times when I went with the flow and ended up cutting the wires and throwing them away. So there's wastage. I think I have Oops only once or twice and it turned out better than I foresaw.

DWJ(am!) What is your design process like? How many tries does it take to be happy with the final product?

SwitMartini On an average I only take 1 try to be happy with the final product. Having said that,  I have had experiences of 2 to 3 tries before I was satisfied with the final product. My record to date : FIVE TIMES before I was satisfied. I was attempting to create a butterfly pendant, to wire 2 separate stones together as the wings.

4739343-original[1] Primavera Earrings
If they are this soothing to look at, think of what they must be like to wear!

DWJ(am!) What is your greatest roadblock, be it government regulation or that little frustrating thing that just likes to sneak up and stop you in your tracks? Broken needle? Jump ring jumping out of your pliers? Thread knots? Cats? Dogs? The family hedgehog rolled about in your yarn basket?

SwitMartini High cost in materials. I use good quality stones and a lot of luxe beads. Even Fordite is expensive. I believe that there is more value in owning a piece of good stone. Therefore, my jewellery pieces are not cheap. So they are sold at a slower pace.

4755315-original[1] Golden Touch Bracelet
I’ve never seen anyone combine coral and amber before, but you have to admit the combination is stunning!

DWJ(am!) All important pricing... Do you have a formula? Do you wing it? Do you feel your work justifies your prices?

SwitMartini Yes, I have a formula. I feel that not only my work but the quality of the stone or feature piece and the accompanying luxe beads justifies my prices. For the cheaper stones, I market them under my 'Markets' album on my Facebook fan page and at the local art markets.


DWJ(am!) And of course, is there anything else you'd like to say to our "viewers at home"?

SwitMartini I believe that many of my pieces are conversational pieces. They are unique and they make great gifts to your loved ones. I also take custom orders. My Facebook fan page has photos of all my creations and many of them are custom orders.


I wish I could just put up all the lovely things from Pohlian’s shop, but I had to stop.  Being a self-learned wire-work artist myself, I can say it’s not easy to learn, then add your own flair, perfect, and be happy with the items you finally allow out of your hands.  Wire is very fickle – but in the right hands, as you can see from the lovely things on display in this post, it can be stunningly beautiful.
Can a machine do this? The precision perhaps… but not the unique differences that make each and every piece a treasure of its own.
There is love in this work, and it shows!

And there’s much more where this came from!  Find Pohlian’s other lovelies at her Zibbet shop: SwitMartini!

As always, thank you for reading!
Until next time!

No comments: