Organization & Storage Tips for Jewelers: How to Keep Your Creative Space Tidy by Roxy Burg

Sourcing beads and jewelry making supplies can be highly addictive. You start with a small collection of seed beads, and then before you know it, you have hundreds of thousands of beads cluttering your design space and getting in the way of your creative process.

Decluttering your space is the first step to a more creative and productive jewelry making operation, whether you design as a hobby or for a living. While you could simply throw all your beads in a jar, you need storage solutions and organization strategies that complement the way you design, allowing you to easily view, select and access your materials. So here are some handy tips on how to keep your creative space tidy.

Everything in Its Place

The first rule of organizing your space is to make sure that everything has a place. This means finding ample storage for your (no doubt) extensive jewelry making supplies.

There is no need to go the conventional route and box everything up when it comes to tidying your space, but you do need to be systematic. So try to find storage containers of a similar size and shape to house your supplies and keep things neat.

Jars are usually every crafter’s go-to storage container. They’re cheap, you usually have plenty of them around the house and you can easily see what is inside. Another great option is watchmaker’s cases that are like small flat jars with see-through lids; they’re perfect for storing gemstone beads, sequins, clasps and other tiny pieces.

You can’t have a tidy space without proper shelving to hold all your storage containers. Open shelving units allow you to see what you have in your inventory and can also act as display cases for your final products, while closed cabinets can hide some of the less glamorous tools and supplies.

Think Inside the Box

One of the best ways for storing stray beads isn’t found at your favorite craft store but at the local outdoor outfitter or sporting goods store. Fishing tackle boxes are ideal for storing beads, stones, sequins and other small, easily lost items.

The partitions in the boxes are moveable so you can customize the interior to suit the materials you need to store. This also allows for different methods of organization. For example, if you prefer to keep similar colored beads together, you can have a larger compartment to fit focal beads and smaller compartments for seed beads.

Fishing tackle boxes are usually transparent so you can easily see what materials you have stored inside and quickly find what you need. They are also stackable so you can minimize the clutter and maximize the storage space in your design studio.

Think Vertically

For tools and materials that don’t fit neatly into boxes or other storage containers, it can be challenging to find the right storage solution that doesn’t take up too much bench space.

A great idea is to have your tools mounted vertically on the wall to keep them from cluttering your workspace. A pegboard hung above your work area allows you to add shelving or hooks that can be moved and customized to suit the tools you have and still leave plenty of space for new supplies you acquire later.

Use hooks to mount rolls of string, ribbon, chain and wire to keep them tangle-free and readily accessible. You can also use these hooks for keeping electrical cords from drills or soldering irons off your workspace to prevent accidents.

Keep Things Within Reach

Most makers generally have a specific area of the studio they stick to when designing and crafting. Though wandering around your creative space can be useful for getting inspiration for your designs, when it is time to create your masterpieces, you need to be able to focus.

Keeping the tools and materials you use most often within arm’s reach will make it easier for you to complete your designs without the distraction and interruption of searching for the right item.

Label Everything

There is nothing more frustrating for a jewelry maker than safely storing your materials away, then not being able to find them when you need them. So when it comes to organizing your design space, a label maker is a great asset.

Labeling your storage containers, even those that are transparent, allows you to know what is inside at a glance, giving you more time with your creative process and less time searching through your design studio.

Make the labels specific for faster access. Rather than just writing “beads,” try “vintage focal beads.”’ And if there are multiple items inside the container, identify each one on the label.

If you don’t have a label maker, you can use masking tape and a marker. Or go all out and color code your labels with Washi tape.

[Editor’s note: Have you seen/drooled over Pam East’s tidy studio?  She has redesigned her storage system and uses clear boxes clearly labeled!]

Get Creative

While all your supplies should be neatly stored and labeled, this doesn’t mean your design space needs to be devoid of fun and color to look tidy. Using different types of storage containers or adding a splash of paint can be a gorgeous way to not only keep your space tidy but to personalize and add style to your workspace.

There are so many creative ways to upcycle jars or storage containers. To keep the contents of jars visible, try dipping just the bottom half in paint in your favorite color or covering the lids with Washi tape. You could also use chalkboard paint to label your containers, which allows you to reuse the container for different items. Unleash your creativity, and the design possibilities for your jewelry making storage are endless.

Put Stuff Away

There is no point decluttering your space and creating a gorgeous organization system if you don’t put things back where they belong. Make it a habit to put things away as soon as you have finished with them.

Final Thoughts

Jewelry making is a meticulous and creative craft, and you can apply that same philosophy when it comes to organizing and tidying your design space. Remember, a cluttered space equals a cluttered mind. So make room for more creative thoughts and try some of these simple tips to help tidy your design space and let your creativity flow.

 

Image Links

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/storage-box-buttons-used-create-jewelry-793228414?src=q6s6S3lqCjwlNQi051bapQ-1-43

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/boxes-glass-stone-beads-board-instruments-753064189?src=Mb895Au2EgkWwPs9B24PUQ-1-31

Roxy Burg Roxy Burg is the Marketing Manager for Beads of Cambay. She is very passionate about channeling her creativity. When she is not busy writing she loves working on projects ranging from jewelry making to crafting. Roxy gets her inspiration from nature and seeing the beauty in everyday life. Her daughters mean the world to her and nothing makes her happier than picking up a glue gun and making memories with them.

Feeling Funky? by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

Every winter many artists in my area fall into a creative funk. The days are short so those with seasonal affective disorder feel the lack of sun first.  Then there are those who feel “let down” after the hustle of shows and sales before the winter holidays. Some artists have pushed so hard to create lines and new work and once the shows are over, they are depleted.  Starting over is sometimes hard.  Others just fall into a creative funk seasonally.

Every February I’d beat myself up for not creating.  Spring shows would be coming up and I’d look at empty shelves with no desire to make.  One year I was talking to a local potter and he said he once charted his funky moods and found that if he didn’t give into them, he was even less productive.  So when they came, he did what he felt like doing–if it was reading–he read.  If it was the desire to take a dance class–he did.  Eventually he learned that by giving into these “unproductive times” he was ultimately more productive. I think of him every February and wonder what crazy creative thing he is giving into and then I wonder why I’m fighting my own creative funk.  This year I feel very, very far from my studio.  I’m working a regular teaching gig.  A painting teacher at the school invited me to sit in on his class…so I’ve dug out my paint brushes.  I haven’t taken a painting class since 1993.  It’s good.  I’m starting to dream of colour combinations and to look at light and clouds creatively and not just with the sigh of an artist in a funk. Continue reading…

Preparing to Teach From Your Home Studio by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

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SHARING YOUR KNOWLEDGE IS A GIFT.

It is an opportunity not only to pass on important information about your techniques and your chosen media to your students but also to educate them about important topics such as safe working practices and artistic ethics.

(Bright and airy teaching studio of Ann Robinson Davis in Virgina, USA)

LEARN FROM THE BEST
If you are new to teaching, it’s a really good idea to learn from a more experienced teacher whom you admire. Try to find one (or more) who might be willing to let you be their “teacher’s aide” in a few classes. Even if you’re just setting up, tidying and breaking down the classroom, you’ll have an opportunity to give your full attention to observing his or her teaching style and techniques for keeping the class on time, on track and engaged, and for dealing with disruptions or needy students. Then try tandem teaching with another experienced teacher. Guild meetings also are a great place to learn and to share teaching tips and methods. Continue reading…

A hard look at the data behind your slow Etsy sales 2017 by Genevieve Tucci

why are my etsy sales down

Breathe. I know it’s been hard. The bottom dropped out in 2016 and things haven’t gotten much better with the same slow Etsy sales in 2017. You’ve probably seen the same mantra over & over again in forums or on “expert blogs”:

“Better Keywords, Better Photos, More Listings”

That’s not the full story.

slow etsy sales 2017

What?!
A different angle on why my Etsy sales may be down & actual data to back it up?!
Yes.
Continue reading…

Did you make it to You Can Make It? by Joy Funnell

Petra and Stuart – our wonderful hosts

“Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, the best weekend ever” “I’ve been to lots of metal clay conferences but this one stood out for me for the warmth and enthusiasm of the delegates” “It was just magical, everyone was so welcoming and friendly” “When I left I felt like I’d walked back through the door from Narnia” “I learnt so much and made so many new friends, and was still buzzing when I got home”

These are just a few of the comments from the attendees of the inaugural ‘You can make it’ event, who left at the end of the weekend feeling inspired, happy and with lots of new friends!

The YCMI Conference Tutors

You Can Make It 2017 took place in Wareham, Dorset, UK on the 24th – 26th March 2017. It was the brainchild of Petra Cameron Wennberg and was organised by her company Metal Clay Ltd. When Petra first approached me in 2016 to see if I might be interested in teaching at it I jumped at the chance. There hadn’t been any kind of large metal clay gathering in the UK for quite a few years and we were long overdue one. Petra was quite clear. She wanted to organise an event, but to be sure they could make the pricing viable they were asking if the tutors would be prepared to give their time for free – of course I said yes, and so did everyone else! We certainly weren’t going to miss out on it. Continue reading…

“Can I make a living doing this?” by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

A few months ago we ran a survey for our readers and there was a reoccurring question about whether one could make a living being a jewellery artist.  Some people asked specific questions wanting me to talk to a certain artist and find out what they made in sales vs how much they spent on materials.  Other readers were not as specific but there was an overall hope that there was some magic path to follow to full-time employment at a jewellery artist.

The answer to the question is, Yes, you can make a living as a jewellery designer.  But be careful how you define living!  Many people have a vision that a full time jewellery artist designs jewellery and people buy it.  But the path is more complicated than that.

Being self-employed is tricky as you wear many hats.  Artists have to be able to handle marketing, business accounting, sales, shipping and receiving, customer service, inventory control, as well as design and manufacturing of your jewellery. When your desire is to create, stopping to look after marketing and accounting seems like it is taking you away from what you love.  But it is those exact things that are keeping you working in your studio!

A jewellery artist needs to be able to self-promote on social media and have a web-site to show off their portfolios of work. Networking events are opportunities to meet new collectors and to show off your work. I personally find this part hard.  I’ve worked for years promoting other artists, but always fall short when showing and talking about my own work.

But, all that said, many artists ALSO have jobs outside of their studio.  Many work freelance jobs, taking on teaching and some have full-time employment. Most artists need to be good at budgeting as self-employed artists do not have pensions, medical plans or sick leave.

Another thing about being a self-employed artist–there is no time off.  It is hard to balance home life and work life.  I try to take advantage of blocks of time and get a task done from my to-do list. I keep a notebook and write down items as they come up. (I know there are fancy apps you can use on your phone.) I’m hoping I’m more productive by knocking off something from my to-do list here and therefore creating time off to be with my family.  But shutting off the list and being present is something I’m working on!

In conclusion, yes, you can make a living as a jewellery artist just don’t lose sight of making a life while you make a living.

Jeannette Froese LeBlanc is a studio artist living in rural Ontario.  She walks the fine line being making a life and making a living–trying to balance life as an artist and a mother.  Currently she is working on a new line of jewellery using metal clay and mixed media. To see more of her work please follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sassyandstella/

Top 5 Questions You Never Ask Artists, Makers, & Designers by Genevieve Tucci

Are you guilty of asking one of these questions at a craft show, on Etsy or to a creative acquaintance? You may think nothing of it but trust me, it made an impression.

Where do you buy your supplies?

It can take years to find a good supplier or that tiny company with the good stuff. Unless you are close friends with the artist/maker, they are not going to let you in on the secret and it hurts our soul a little each time you ask.

How much did it cost to make?

While you think you are being sneaky, we know you are trying to figure out how much we are making off each piece. Would you tell a complete stranger your yearly salary? I think not.

There is a very large consumer base that believes if you pay for more than the cost of materials, then you are getting screwed over. If you want cheap, go to Walmart. If you want original & handmade then pay the asking price. It is probably priced too low already.

How long did this take you to make?

This is potentially an innocent question but more often than not, it’s used to gauge how much the item is really worth.

Less time ≠ less expensive. It may have only taken 30 minutes to make that ring but it took years of practice and probably weeks of research to figure out a new technique making that ring stand out from others.

Can you copy this for cheaper?

No, no, no, no, no.

Not only is it ethically wrong to copy another person’s design but it is hurtful that you even asked when we have worked hard to develop our own style. Anyone who agrees to copy another person’s work is a fraud and should be burned at the stake. (Can you sense my hatred for copy cats?) A true designer will send you on your way back to the original designer and then try to burn a hole in the back of your head with their eyes.

I LOVE your painting/wreath/photography!!! You know if you sold it for half the price, I could afford it and you would sell a lot more. (Technically not a question but I am still including it.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I am going let you in on a little secret. Everyone can not afford everything. I know. Crazy. But really, this should never ever come out of your mouth much less typed out and sent through text or email.

Makers, artisans, photographers, designers, etc. What question drives you crazy? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Genevieve Tucci Raised in Baton Rouge as part of an entrepreneurial and artistic family, my passion for creating began at a very early age in my mother’s art studio where I would sit every evening watching her paint, sculpt and design. I was extremely fortunate to attend Baton Rouge Magnet High School which offered stagecraft as an elective. Mrs. Ory, a saint in her own right, gave me confidence and the foundation to safely use powerful saws and tools while my mother gave me the confidence to learn any skill. After graduating LSU with a degree in Arts Administration, I strived for daily creative outlets in order the escape the 9-to-5 and this was also the time my husband and I bought our first home. It meant all the home projects I had been looking forward to could finally happen! It also meant my husband could get me power tools for Christmas, and I would be okay with it.

Visit Genevieve online at her blog or Etsy shop:
http://allprojectsgreatandsmall.com
https://www.etsy.com/shop/GenevieveDesignsBR

Design Challenge for 2017

It’s a new year and people seem more excited this year to start anew.  I am too, and I’ve come up with a design challenge for jewelry artists working in any media!

A few years ago I went to CJS Sales in New York City.  I interviewed the owners and learned about the “design quarry” of beads, findings and interesting things that jewelry makers and mixed media artists can find there. (Article link.) I came home with 60 pounds of goodies!!  Seriously!  Luckily I had traveled to NYC by train and not plane!

I have divided up part of my stash into 20 equal collections.  Now I’m looking for 20 artists who would like to participate in a design challenge.  Everyone will get the same amounts of vintage beads, chain, and crystals in their design kit. You can use them any way you want and with any media.

Basic Challenge Parameters:
-Due date: March 31, 2017.
-Must send images of finished piece to cre8tivefire (@) gmail.com.
-Must use 4 pieces of design kit in your finished piece. (1 piece = 1 bead, 1 component, or 1″ of chain)
-Artists can submit up to 3 pieces–either separately or as part of a set.

Oh and is there a prize?
Yes there is!  I have 2 original vintage pendants from the 1960’s found at CJS Sales. A little piece of art history!
**Plus we will put together an interesting series of articles showing off the designed pieces, comments by the artists and a gallery.  I think this would be really fun and it gives us a chance to work with unconventional materials and to stretch our design ideas!

Anyone game to join a design challenge? ***NOTE all kits have been claimed*** Stay tuned for the results!

Jeannette Froese LeBlanc is a studio artist living in rural Ontario Canada.  She has been seen in New York City, hauling obscene amounts of beads and copious piles of fabric back to her hotel. Her studio is packed to the rafters with finds too good to use and is only now starting to share.  To see more of her work please follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sassyandstella/

“Tis The Season” by Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

indexWith the passing of Thanksgiving in the USA came “Black Friday”.  This is supposed to be the average day where retailers have covered their costs for the year and the remaining days of the year are profit making.  I don’t know if that same profit/income expectation can be applied to studio artists.  When I was “doing the show circuit” the money I made at Christmas shows set me up for the year.  A bad Christmas show meant it would be a pretty lean year ahead.

I’ve been seeing artists post a variety of comments lately about their sales.  Some people are over the moon with their sales and others are wondering where their customer base went.  I wish I had the information so many are asking for. “Where are my customers?” “Why are people not buying?” Others are working their fingers to the bone as they are afraid to turn away sales for fear of not knowing if this is their “moment” or if this is a sign that they have reached the right market. I too am trying to balance the extra orders that come with “the season” and actually enjoying the season.one-of-a-kind-show

A few artist friends have mentioned how bold customers are getting asking for discounts.  Oh I know how difficult that is to deal with when you are put on the spot.  You want to make a sale, but not at that price. An artist who sells only online says that online customers are even bolder and will ask for 50% discounts.  Sometimes even asking for free products in exchange for an article or promotion.  The internet seems to give people a veil to hide behind as they are not saying things to the person’s face.  An experienced artist once told me not to lower my prices and not to bend to the pressure of discounts.  She said that it was so easy to go down in prices, but to bring them back up is harder.  If your new low price is known, it becomes your new price.

As the time before the holidays speeds up and patience runs thin, this is a great time for you to set your business apart from the rest.  Instead of just making a sale–go above and beyond with your customer service.  Did you know that there were trends in customer service?  Me neither!  I found this article about it.  Things to think about adding to the service you give your clients:

  • Make it easy for customers to get help from real people;
  • Obsess over every detail of the customer experience;
  • Be proactive, and don’t wait behind a desk for customer contact

The last point is a good one…ask your customers for feedback.  Sounds scary.  But it is a great way to learn ways to modify designs, packaging, shipping…etc.  I’ve done this in the past and have turned a few buyers into friends. I took their advice and modified my jewellery designs.  Win-Win for both of us.

22No matter where you are selling your work this year, I wish you prosperous sales and happy customers. Try to enjoy the season.  As my grandfather would say- “This too shall pass.”

 

headshotsmallJeannette Froese LeBlanc is a studio artist living in Rural Ontario Canada.  She is inspired by the landscape and history of Canada.  The structure of trees inspires her as much as people’s portraits.  Both are re-occurring themes in her jewellery and photography. To see more of her work please follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sassyandstella/

CJS Sales in New York City – A Designers Quarry By Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

mcam-5-3_page_14_image_0001Imagine chatting about the history and the future of jewelry design while sitting in a warehouse stacked floor to ceiling with boxes and boxes of mostly vintage beads and jewelry making components. What an astounding wonderland of inspiration! I met with Carl and Elyse Schimel, co-owners of CJS Sales in New York City, one of my favorite places to head for a creative boost.

(Image: Wire wrapped stone necklace design by Carl Schimel.)

The CJS Sales warehouse is located on 36th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in New York City. Savvy jewelry designers can spend hours poring through this extraordinary trea-sure trove that holds literally millions of vintage beads and jewelry making supplies with limitless design potential. The Schimels are constantly seeking out great buys on anything that might be used for making jewelry and accessories.

“We bought a chandelier store that went out of business…[and] a rhinestone factory. We try to keep things that will be inspiration for people and [are] also unusual and different. We price at what we bought it at, so you can get quality vintage parts that are not found on today’s mar- ket at great prices,” said Elyse. To help designers compete and allow their work to stand out, Elyse and Carl sell only to wholesale customers who come to the warehouse. “We do not sell on the internet or show broad images. We do this to protect our buyers. Our customers are very knowledgeable. We believe in promoting design- ers, fostering new ones, to give them an edge.”

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(Image: The Milwaukee Sentinel – July 31,  1969)

As a jewelry maker, I marvel that Carl stayed constantly ahead of the curve with his fashion-forward jewelry designs for more than 50 years. It was fascinating to listen to him talk about why he created the line and the manufacturing hurdles he had to overcome to get “Kim Crafts- men” jewelry out to buyers.

I was curious about how the Kim Craftsmen showroom and design space morphed into this vast warehouse of jewelry making supplies.

Elyse explained, “When Carl was liquidating [his jewelry manufacturing business] I started cold calling people. He thought it was cute [and] he was giving me a 100% commission. I started to bring in big accounts, he started to buy [at] fire sales and we started a wholesale liquidation business.” Carl adds, “If I had to describe the business I’d say it is a designer’s quarry. Designers come here to dig out treasures.”

I can personally attest to the digging! When I pay Carl and Elyse’s warehouse a visit, I come prepared by dressing as if I were to go climbing, I bring a rolling suitcase (after one visit where I lugged 30 lbs of beads in a shoulder bag thirteen blocks in NYC) and of course water and a cell phone—in case I get lost or to keep track of time. Losing a day in here is an easy thing to do!

As Elyse showed Art Deco glass beads, unfinished brooch components from the 1950s and mouth-blown glass beads, her father talked about how the artist’s hand should be apparent in his or her work. Carl used the term analog to explain how he worked. “To me [using] a pencil is analog. When you write with a pencil there’s pressure, there’s a difference in how it looks. You can write the same thing ten times…it will be the same each time but [also] different. When I caged stones using wire wrapping the concept being used was ‘mass individuality’; everyonecould have a caged stone but all of them were different.” Today he is intrigued by the idea of what he might have made if metal clay had been on the market when he was making fashion jewelry. “What happens is, as an artist you use the materials that are available at that time in the best ways that you can. But can you imag- ine what Alexander Calder would have done if [metal clay] had been available to him?”

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Elyse models one of her father’s body jewelry pieces. This image is reminiscent of a photo from a 1969 newspaper article about his work.

Calder, a world renowned sculptor best known for inventing the hanging kinetic sculp- ture form known as a mobile, had a tremendous influence on Carl’s jewelry design. “When I got his…enormous book of jewelry it showed him working in his studio…a lot of his style of jewelry was much more understandable to me. He wasn’t using goldsmith tools, sized for jewelry making. His tools were large anvils with heavy handles, blacksmith tools, as he was used to making large mobiles and stabiles so there’s immediacy to the way Calder worked, and it showed in his work. If you look at his pieces, there’s a freshness still to his work. You can feel the hand, the way he twisted and moved to create his pieces. That’s analog!” Carl exclaimed. “You can always recognize his tools…for example if he used a hammer with a scratch on it, it would show on his piece like a fingerprint.” Carl went on to explain how metal clay is analog. “It is hands-on. In an age where a tremendous amount of design is going digital, the look is just opposite—180 degrees opposite. I’m sure [the artists using digital design tools] are very, very fine designers. It doesn’t look like jewelry that I’m used to. Metal clay takes me back to when we made jewelry. And we wanted to call it ‘Artistry in Metal’ because at that time, in the 50s and 60s and 70s, bench designers sat down and worked with the material, they under- stood the material. Metal clay is another vehicle for artists to express themselves. It is a phenomenal material….”

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(Photos of jewelry by Kim Craftsmen, a company owned by Carl Schimel and his brother.)

I couldn’t agree more! Combine metal clay with some of the vintage beads and findings at CJS Sales and you’d have an exquisite combination of a modern material matched with vintage beads. If travel to New York City is not an option, seek out your own local charity, “antique” shops, or online for vintage elements to add to your own jewelry. When I find my creativity waning, a visit here spurs new ideas in new directions. It is like going to a museum for in- spiration, except that here you can take home the items that inspire you and use them in your work! Elyse showed me old pedals from a ma- chine. I forget what machine they were for because I was focused on the typeface used for the logotype imprinted on them! Inspiration for a new line of necklaces, perhaps? Now how to explain to the TSA agents at the airport that I need to bring home a half dozen metal pedals even though I have no idea what they are for!

RESOURCES:

CJS Sales: www.cjssales.com, 16 West 36th Street, 2nd floor, between 5th and 6th Aves., New York, New York 10018 (212) 244-1400

To view images of Kim Craftsmen jewelry: www.costumejewelrycollectors.com/kim- craftsmen-gallery/

To read more about Carl Schimel’s jewelry manufacturing business: http://www.costumejewelrycollectors.com/ 2013/03/28/a-tale-of-two-brothers-part-1-by- molly-felth/

To view images of Alexander Calder’s jewelry: http://www.pinterest.com/lizzieiom67/ alexander-calder-s-jewellery/

To view the The Milwaukee Sentinel – July 31, 1969 article: http://news.google.com/newspapers? nid=1368&dat=19690731&id=K3RQAAAAIBAJ& sjid=NREEAAAAIBAJ&pg=7278,6232783

Photos from inside CJS Sales many rooms: Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

headshotsmallJeannette Froese LeBlanc is a studio artist living in Rural Ontario Canada.  She is inspired by the landscape and history of Canada.  The structure of trees inspires her as much as people’s portraits.  Both are re-occurring themes in her jewellery and photography. To see more of her work please follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sassyandstella/