Friday, November 8, 2013

Interview Series 2: Week 3 – The Amethyst Dragonfly

Sorry I’m a day late, everyone!

I had thought my eye would heal before this was due yesterday, but it didn’t cooperate.

Please welcome this week someone who does things a little differently.  Lynn from The Amethyst Dragonfly makes jewelry, which yes, is common, but instead of “modern” styles, she goes back in time a bit with Victorian and Steampunk style!

I’ll say no more, but let her tell her own tale!

Hi, I am Lynn from TheAmethystDragonfly
I make Victorian and steampunk style jewelry. I also make tons of other things, but that is what I currently sell!
Favorite material (or medium, whatever you want to call it!):
Copper and polymer clay. Both are very versatile and not very expensive, which allows for a lot of experimentation and more affordable pieces.
Your Most Popular Seller (whether it be online or at shows you attend):
I would say it is my various styles of lighter necklaces. I designed one originally about 20 years ago for a friend who was always losing her lighter. It has proved popular, so apparently she wasn't the only one!

4001036-original[1] Steampunk lighter necklace for full sized lighters
This. Is. Genius.  Pure. Genius. Or: Maybe if it’s around my NECK my sister will leave it alone!

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

TheAmethystDragonfly I've always been an artist. I was making fairly elaborate drawings and clay sculptures (ok, play dough!) even as a kid. As a teen I was in art classes and enjoyed them more than anything else.
Nevertheless, I tried for many years to work in an office or jobs like that, that were more acceptable to society's vision of a successful person, but I was very unhappy. One day I (with the moral support and inspiration of my sweetie) decided, No more!, I'm going to work for myself and create my OWN world! I've never been happier in life

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

TheAmethystDragonfly Some things I learned in a High School jewelry class, other things I have taught myself, either through trial and error, or looking something up for tutorials online! I learn better by just trying to do something, until I get it right, so that is what I do!

4009218-original[1]Green glass necklace with butterfly filigree charm
I’m a huge fan of butterflies, and this necklace is unique in that the charm is not at the bottom, but the side.

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

TheAmethystDragonfly I am originally from a suburb of Atlanta and then from a downtown neighborhood. Very high energy, very high stress. It was always traffic, always hurry hurry to get where you are going, work really hard just to get by. And one day I couldn't take it anymore, so I moved. Now I live on a sleepy horse farm in the foothills mountains with my fiancee. I love to sit on our porch and look at the view. I love to take picture walks and enjoy the nature around me. There is still lots of hard work involved, but this quiet life really makes me happy and fires my creativity.
Whenever I feel unmotivated, I just take one of those walks, or sit and gaze at the mountain view, watch the clouds drift by and the birds wheel around the sky. It is hard not to be inspired by such beauty.

4009158-original[1] Pink Pearl earrings with lime flower beadcaps
80’s style flair? Sign me up! … No, really, I’m not old enough to have had a pair like these when I was 10…

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?

TheAmethystDragonfly My day almost always starts with being woken up by a kitty! If not a kitty, then a horse kicking around loudly in the barn. It is a pretty good alarm clock, all things considered. I generally start my day by going to a goals and accountability team that I am a member of. I take a few minutes to review to myself what I want to get done for the day and then I write it for my team to see. I have learned not to beat myself up when I don't get the list done, but it does help to have it out there to try and push me a little farther every day. I don't hold myself to set hours or work times, because I do have horse farm things that could come up any moment, so for me, a strict schedule is not realistic.
I try to spend a normal 'work day' of hours working on my business in some fashion, whether it be making new items, logging in supplies, or tweaking listing SEO. I also try to give myself days off. It doesn't have to be the weekend, but it often is. I may do one or two things on my 'days off' but I try to limit it so I don't ever burn myself out.
I can easily get distracted by forum reading and online research, so I try to be careful of that. Mostly, because there is so much to do on an old horse farm, my distractions actually stem from other work that needs to get done. So usually, on those days I get nothing store related done, I still get tons of actual work done.
The key for me is always doing a bit of store work in the mornings, so I don't end up feeling like "I got nothing done today" even if a stall cleaning ended up taking five hours to do instead of the expected two!
I also always try to take time in my day for a walk or for just gazing out the window. I actually feel like that is a very important part of my day.

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?

TheAmethystDragonfly It depends on the item. With my wire type earrings and necklaces, I can usually disassemble and start over, or fix the problem, but with polymer clay that is not often the case. There have been a few pieces that just ended up thrown away because there wasn't much salvaging them. I have learned to know my limits over the years and now if I keep messing things up, I know to stop immediately, because no amount of pushing through it on my part is going to end up in a piece I am happy with! Those kinds of days I end up turning to bookkeeping or picture editing. Something I can do without much thinking about it.

5216638-original[1]Clay leaf ring. made to order
Up close, you can tell it’s intricately carved clay. From a distance? Charming metal work. Lovely offering!

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

TheAmethystDragonfly It is different for different items. With my bead pieces, I usually spread out some beads I am thinking of using and then try different variations of other beads with them to see which pleases my eye the most.
With my polymer clay pieces, most of them came about from a flash of inspiration. I will be sitting there watching Tv or looking at beads for something else, and I will just suddenly have the idea. I am usually able to tease the idea out pretty quickly without having too many messed up prototypes. That is one of the great things about polyclay, that I can work and work with it til I am happy, before putting it in the oven to finish it.
If I find it is not coming out properly, I will wrap the item and put it away til tomorrow. That usually gives my brain the rest it needs to finish to my satisfaction.

4008437-original[1] Purple crystal and pearl earrings
Purple. Crystal. Antiqued.  Need I say more?

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?

TheAmethystDragonfly My greatest roadblock is resources. I've never had a lot of money and I still don't. We get by on what most people would think is an impossible amount. It doesn't leave a lot for supplies, and I still put most of my profit back into the business.
However, just like in low budget film, often having to figure out a way to do something for not much money leads to creative solutions. I try to let that limitation work for me and not against me.

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

TheAmethystDragonfly It's kind of half and half. I have the formula that lots of us use, supplies plus labor times one number for wholesale and another for retail... but some pieces I look at and think, "eh, I need to charge less" or "Hmm, I feel I should charge a bit more"
I'd say my pricing pretty well reflects the time and money put in to them. It can be a hard balancing act, but so many artists undercut themselves and hurt their long term growth chances.

2870241-original[1] Gear hairpins, steampunk style
These are just epic.  My hair won’t hold them, and I’d likely lose them, otherwise I’d have ordered them already.

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

TheAmethystDragonfly Running your own creative business is hard work. Many people start one thinking it will be easy, just make something and put it out there. But so much more time, energy, frustration, heart break, joy, and accomplishment goes in to our businesses.
If you are thinking "I could do that!", then do it! Give it a shot! You never know until you try, just be prepared to keep trying and trying and trying :)
We do this, of course, for money, but more than that, we do it for love. For the need to create. For the need to share that creation.
I work harder than I ever thought I would, but I wouldn't give it up for the world!

I couldn’t have said that last bit better myself.  Some artists may say they do it all for the money, but let’s face it – creators are going to create, and want others to see their work and be inspired by it, or perhaps with the hopes of selling the work and share part of their souls with the purchaser, who will get to enjoy their purchase with the knowledge that the item was created by human hands, is one of a kind, or was created JUST for them.  It’s a win-win situation right?

Sadly, not lately.  There needs to be more of that mentality.  Hopefully, there are many who will take Lynn’s advice to heart!

You can visit Lynn on her Zibbet shop, The Amethyst Dragonfly – and I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so!

Until next week!
Thanks for reading!

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