I came across Rachel's work via Etsy and I just love the handmade look and feel that each piece has and the colours are so incredibly vibrant. So I could not resist but find out more about Rachel Who Is Fuzzishu.
Q. Rachel I would love to interview you for 'interesting or not so interesting' for my blog. Are you keen to answer some questions? Do you think you're interesting or not?
A. I think everyone has at least a few things that make them interesting. For me, one of the most interesting things is the decision I made to leave a job in luxury watch design in Geneva, Switzerland to move to rural SW Iowa to start my own jewelry business. Talk about culture shock! Now I am attempting to stay here and sell enough jewelry via Etsy to help secure my future home/studio...in the next two months. No pressure. ;) What can I say? My life is usually more interesting than not. (to read a bit more about this project see question #8)
A couple of other interesting things - I've studied hung gar kung fu, belly dancing, synchronized swimming, and every kind of art you can imagine (woodworking to ceramics to glassblowing and on). I am a total foodie who loves to cook and maintained a foodblog for a good long while (Ugly Fruit). And I have two french kitties, Gizmo and Teli.
Q. What are some of your main inspirations when creating your unique pieces of jewelry?
A. Better to ask what doesn't inspire me! I love bright vivid colors. I have a very child-like sense of design in some respects. I like cute (see my soon to be posted animal beads), I like funky, I like unusual. I am also a total dumpster-diver, picking up 'treasures' whether at a beach or on the street. My studio and home hold many of these treasures. You never know when a certain color or shape is going to inspire you to create something new.
Q. Your work has a very experimental feel about it, where do you see your style heading in the next 6 months? Any new materials or methods?
A. It is still experimental. As I said, I am a trained silversmith but I have been making lampworked beads since I was 15. I've been attempting to combine the fluidity and vibrancy of glass with the more deliberate nature and permanence of metal. A go go is the first series where this has really come together for me. And I am totally in love with it! I am working on the next series and it's a little less 'party', a bit more quietly dignified but there is still some color involved and a few surprises!
Q. Without giving away too many trade secrets, there are so many people creating jewelry on different levels, how do you stand out from the crowd to be noticed?
A. I think it's a matter of doing what you love and designing what you would buy. There are so many jewelers but that really means that there's something for everyone out there. Standing out from the crowd can be tricky but if you have a niche that no one else seems to be doing there's a good chance that you will be seen and known for your own style.
Q. You've done several exhibitions and shows, as well as selling online, what are the major pros and cons you've found of each method of exposing your work? Is there one you prefer?
A.Good question! I enjoy being able to make a personal connection with my customers at shows, being able to work with them if they are looking for something specific. Also, when you do a show it is advertised for you, people know about it and come with the intent of shopping for art. However I could do without the set up and tear down of my booth, long distance hauls, unpredictable weather and giant expenses you don't know if you are going to make back (hotel, gas, booth fee, application fee, etc.)
With selling online the initial costs are much lower but unless you spend a lot of time actively marketing and seeking out customers, it's possible to get lost in the crowd. Not to mention the time to take the photos and upload the whole shebang. Online is something that can be done steadily - a bit at a time. Shows are more cyclical ...you work steadily all winter and then come summer head out and sell, sell, sell.
I think they both have their place and for a while I am going to attempt to do both. Wish me luck!
Q. Who would you make a piece for, either dead or alive, and what would it be?
A. Off the top of my head? I would love to have made some specific underwater jewelry for Esther Williams for her movies. I am not quite sure what underwater jewelry entails but it sounds awesome. Something Chihuly-esque, lots of colors, marine flora looking perhaps.
Q. If someone wants to get a start in making unique jewelry pieces using glass beads and metalsmithing do you have any advice?
A. Experiment, have fun, wear it around and see what comments you get. Then experiment some more.
Q. Anything new and exciting coming up for you? New projects? Where to next?
A. Right now I am in the middle of a massive grassroots campaign to try and sell enough of my jewelry on Etsy by the end of February to be able to help finance my future home/studio (Being a full time artist is awesome. Trying to get a loan as a full time artist? Not nearly as awesome).
I've been the artist in residence at the Corning Center for the Fine Arts in Corning, Iowa (pop. 1,800) for over a year and a half and I am now looking to lay down roots here. If I don't succeed in buying that building? Don't know. Looks like this wandering artist might have to do some more wandering.
Q. Where can people find out more about you and is there any websites you want to plug?
A. Yep, to read the full story about my intrepid plan to buy my home/studio please visit www.fuzzishu.com (permanent website coming soon)
To buy some of my jewelry and support the dream, visit my etsy shop - www.fuzzishu.etsy.com and if you'd like to join my mailing list (and be registered for 4 drawings a year for a free piece of fuzzishu jewelery visit my blog (that needs to be updated badly!) www.fuzzishu.blogspot.com
Q. Thank you Rachel, have you enjoyed this short Q&A?
A. Thanks so much! It's been fun and given me a chance to think a bit more indepth about why and how I do what I do.