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A PEEK INTO THE CREATIVE MINDS OF JEWELRY ARTISTS...
From the 'Down Under' in Saint Leonards, Australia, to my home in Central New York, to each of your homes all over the world, I bring you Vicki Murphie of Sasha and Max Studio. Vicki keeps herself busy as an interior designer and when she is not coming up with a plan for large areas, she is working with the smaller (but very BIG to many!) scale world of jewelry.
While researching a little for this interview, I came across another shop that Vicki sells in called 'Made It'. Vicki will share a little bit more about that and also offer many more insights into the thoughts behind her jewelry making.... Links to Vicki's other online connections are listed at the end of this interview.
From reading your blog, I think I know how you came up with the name Sasha and Max, but could you share the story behind the name with our readers?
We share our apartment with 2 Maine Coon Cat siblings named Sasha and Max - the world’s largest breed of domestic cat, I think. They are our kids, or furr kids, have big personalities, are more are like small dogs in friendliness and temperament. They really love the beading process, (especially Max who I call the Creative Director) and they love any opportunity to sneak a few beads and ribbons too.
The name seemed like a really good fit for the range –
friendly jewelry that we enjoy making.
As an interior designer, is it difficult to switch between large artistry versus very small artistry? Are they similar or very different?
The eye for good detail and craftsmanship is certainly aligned, as is the process of analysing how things come together down to the smallest detail. Both interior design and Sasha+ Max jewelry are collaborative processes. As a jewelry designer I love to work with the fabulous art beads made by fellow artisans, to give my work a unique handmade, “one –off “ feel. As an interior designer who works on large scale commercial projects , the design can only come to to fruition via great collaboration with my clients, the team and our suppliers of finishes, furniture and fittings. My design style for both endeavours is clean and strong lined with solid colour blocking. I also have a thing for Japanese print design.
How did you get started with your jewelry business? Was it a surplus of jewelry or something that you thought you would want to do right from the beginning?
As a teenager I undertook career work experience with a Silversmith / Jeweller and loved it. When it came to choosing a career, it was either architecture or jewellery design. Architecture was a major love and seemed the sensible choice. I fell into nterior design after university, and have been an interior designer for 23 years. I did not venture back to jewellery until about 3 years ago, taking a small beading course, making presents for family and friends and pieces for myself.
I have quite a bad bead buying habit, so it came time when I had to share,as there’s only so much I can wear. I decided to start selling late last year, which allows me to keep buying beads I love, and to create and sell pieces to nice people. I am investigating getting back to the sliver smithing as well but that would involve studio space out of the home, and scary flames,
so I’ll see where that takes me in the future.
Considering that we in the US seem to be coming out of a very difficult time with our economy, was your Etsy shop affected by the struggles in the US? and. Are you noticing that people are feeling a little more confident about purchases these days?
As a fairly new seller, I might have missed the worst of the recent slowdown. It was a quiet process to get the first few sales, as Etsy is a big place with a lot of amazing competition. The market has been up and down, but Australia has been quicker to recover which has meant more sales to Australian customers. I think there is has been a gradual building of confidence in handmade.
I like to think that handmade jewelry is a treat that you can buy with a small outlay and get great happiness from (a bit like a good lipstick!).
When using ceramic beads/pendants, what it is that you like about them that makes
them different from other beads?
They are all wonderful unique pieces with the artist’s personality imbedded within. The differences in glazes, textures, embossing, sculptural forms are endless. I like that most pieces are limited editions, and this aligns with my design ethos of handmade individuality. In addition, by buying from other designers and crafters (and I’ve met so many great people all over the “virtual” world) I can help support them in a small way in their respective fields.
Are there certain pieces of jewelry that you like to create more than others. For example, are you drawn more to bracelets vs. earrings? Why?
I make a lot of earrings (as they sell well), but gain more joy out of bracelets and necklaces as they are more of a design challenge.
Do you often have a plan in mind when you sit down to create something or are you like me as just wing it, take it apart, wing it for round two, etc.?
A bit of both. My Japanese necklaces had a plan but it took a few rounds of winging it and pulling part to work out how I wanted the ends to be finished. More often I open the “special beads” drawer where my art beads are stashed and see what happens. As my day job involves of lots of planning, I like my beading time to be spontaneous. Sometimes it comes together, sometimes it doesn’t and I have to ponder over a design for a few days and perhaps pull part/ remake / or ditch the idea and move on. My target is simple – make good pieces that me or my friends would like to wear.
While looking over your blog, I noticed that you also sell on a site called Madeit.com. Is this the Etsy of Australia? Could you tell us a little more about that site?
Madeit.com.au is a handmade market site that is exclusively for Australian sellers of handmade items (although anyone can buy of course!). It is like a very new minute scale Etsy. I like it as there is less competition. The down side is that there is a lot less traffic. I have recently started having good success with it.
Are there other venues that you sell at other than Etsy? Is so, could you tell us a little about that? If not, do you think that there might be in the future?
I make occasional items to order via word of mouth, and have the occasional jewellery open house.
I prefer to keep things small scale so the enjoyment is always there.
I’m contemplating my own website in the future.
You can find out more about Vicki and/or the ceramic bead artists represented in Vicki's jewelry with the links below.