Friday Feature: Kim O'Brien Jewelry July 09, 2010 11:55

Welcome to the brand new feature on the Craftland blog, Friday Feature, where I'll be posting an interview with one of our artists each Friday. Our amazing artists are what make us what we are, and we thought you would all enjoy getting to know each other a little better. This Friday, I'll kick things off with local artist, Kim O'Brien. Not only does Kim design and produce her own line of jewelry, she's also a big supporter of Craftland. She's fast become a regular around here for gallery openings, classes and she practices what she preaches, and believes in buying handmade. Here's the interview I did with Kim.

When did you start your handmade business?
I started for real in 2009, I decided it was time to stop playing around with hobbies and focus on my passion -jewelry. 

What inspired your decision to take the plunge?
My husband finally graduated from school, stopped his career of being a student and got a job. So, it was my turn to explore what I wanted to do as a grown up. And, my family kept asking me when I was going to start making that amazing jewelry of mine again. 

Describe your studio space for us.
My studio is at my father-in-law's house, in the basement. Just as exciting as it sounds! I took over his old dark room. (Needless to say I am tolerating old wood paneling.) My favorite piece of furniture is my jewelers bench. My grandfather "borrowed" it from UMD, where he worked and I graduated. It is perfect, sturdy and spacious. My uncle did some fresh wiring so my kiln maintains heat for enameling. I have a hell of a lot of tools. Since I was an undergraduate for so long there were many birthdays I could request tools for. I also collect hammers, odd tools and files from yard sales and antique stores. My husband was always so jealous that my major required tools while Philosophy required books. So, he made sure I had lots of power tools to play with when he wasn't testing them. My walls are littered with photographs of flowers and jewelry designs I love (and family photos too!). I am always looking through books and magazines for inspiration. Things I can't part with find a space on my walls. Some day I hope to have a space with windows and maybe a little retail area. Some day soon!
When you're feeling a creative block, where do you go for inspiration to help get over the hump?
Outside, to take photos of flowers, trees, cityscapes, anything that surrounds me. I study color, shapes and patterns. Then I apply this to my jewelry in the shape of form, function and enamel. If it is dreadfully cold and in the dead of winter I  lose myself in my book collection. Nature photography, Art Nouveau and Antique Ironwork are my favorite themes.

How did you first become involved with Craftland?
I have been admiring Craftland from a distance for some time now. Each year I would trek there for the holiday show and each year I would vow to myself that I would have my work there the next year. Last year I was ever so happy to make good on this promise. Reaching this goal made me realize I finally did it, I made making art my life.
What advice would you offer to someone who is interested in taking their crafting from hobby to business? When you make what you love, it shows. People respond and you know your effort is worth it. It empowers you to continue on. Don't just settle for selling something because you made it. Sell it because you believe in it. And never stop learning about your craft or you will lose your passion and spunk. 
What are your favorite tools for getting your work out there?
Right now I am loving supermarket. The photos are large and luscious. I feel you can really connect and know the product before you buy it which is so important with internet sales. Did I mention it is juried? Comfort is to be found in good company! I am also loving twitter and facebook. You get more feedback on your work through these last two sites. It is reassuring to see what folks have to say versus knowing someone "hearts" or "favorites" your items. 
Guilty Pleasure?
Really just one? Vegan ice cream, especially peanut-butter zig-zag. Wait, watching True Blood while eating vegan ice cream. But does that beat snuggling with my dog when I should be up and at the studio, those are good, lazy, full-fledged guilty mornings! (Should I have mentioned something about my husband here? I did mention the dog. Feeling guilty.) Actually, my biggest guilty pleasure is buying handmade. I believe I have been called Craftland's biggest supporter for good reason.