My good friend Judy Ebert, the artist who designs jewelry under the name jbEbert, is someone whose work I have featured before on my blog, but having gotten to know her over the past few months via a group of which we are both members, I felt that she and her incredible work needed to be revisited. Every artist expresses themselves in some way through their chosen art form, and it is so interesting to discover how the end result is a perfect encapsulation of a part of the artists' personality or state of mind. When I first laid eyes on Judy's work, I was enthralled with the richness of the colors and textures, the "juiciness" of the gems she chose to work with , and the non-traditional and assymetrical way in which she works. As I have gotten to know her, everything is starting to make sense, because SHE is all of that and more! Below are the answers to our interview questions. I believe that you will fall in love with Judy and jbEbert just like I have! Enjoy!
Describe your product in 25 words +-.
JBE: I make jewelry of my own design by hand. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings using mainly pearls and gemstones, fine and sterling silver, vermeil and 14kgf metals.
Why do you produce this product, and not some other product?
JBE: I was a professional portrait painter and gallery owner in another life. I loved doing that, but moving to a different region of the country meant virtually beginning again to build that business. I kind of felt like a new start called for a fresh start. I’ve gone through “phases” of stained glass, raku pottery, sculpture, weaving, elaborate embroidery and lace making, but I was kept enrapt by the varied methods of personal decoration. (I even have a secret desire to get a tattoo, but I’d have to have it under my hair or my European husband would have a simple fit. Shhhh!) I made a serious study of ethnic jewelry techniques over many years and began some time ago to dabble in bead stringing. Now needing an outlet, I turned again to jewelry making, expanding my early learning to include wire wrapping, chaining, silver solder, PMC and soon enameling with my new kiln. It’s an exploration of shape, color, texture, proportion, even weight and size. To me jewelry is personal sculpture, and as I expand my repertoire I can express each piece’s narrative more fully.
How much of your day do you spend working on it?
JBE: All day, doing something related to my business. With promotion and marketing being such a big part of any business these days, I only get 10 or 20 hours a week in the studio. I would LOVE to hire an assistant! *wistfully dreaming*.
Is this how you make your living?
JBE: Not yet, but my work is selling well, and I look forward to the economy continuing to improve.
How much of what you produce in your product, did you learn in “school” (define this as you wish)? How much is self-taught? How do you self-teach ... books, trial and error, etc?
JBE: I took classes in bead weaving, PMC, and silver solder. Everything else I learned from reading books and magazines or I cobbled together some backward method of my own. Of course, a lifetime of looking at art masterpieces, museums full of decorative arts, traveling and my Art Minor in college hasn’t been wasted!
When you aren’t working on producing, marketing, shipping, your product, what to you do? What are your other fascinations and passions?
JBE: Ha! Less and less it seems! I do take time to keep in touch with friends. I love to cook, and I have every kitchen gadget known to man. But, I’m even happier to find a fabulous new restaurant! I have been researching my family history for the past 20 years, and I have over 20,000 names in my genealogy database. The Internet makes the search easier now, but my husband and I have driven from one cemetery to another in every known town in my family’s migration route down the east coast. Now I need to prove what I’ve discovered over seas! He keeps asking when I’ll be done … I don’t have the heart to tell him it’s the great unfinished job. But, we both love to travel, and try to take a couple of trips every year. I also take advantage
of living in tropical Florida, where nature is such a big part of our environment. I grow orchids – well, that’s an overblown statement – I have orchids out in my yard where they just grow like topsy along with any stick you plunge into the ground.
How do these other interests affect, or influence the choices you make in your product design?
JBE: I think my art history background and my love of antiques have informed my choices toward more romantic jewelry. I find minimal and architectural jewelry beautiful, but somehow my own designs are always more “rococo”. My love of nature and the flora I find so beautiful is always a strong influence on my theme and color choices.
What kind of space do you work in? How big? Is it separate from your living space?
JBE: I am quite spoiled. Thanks to a wonderful friend who designs “Murphy Bed” and organized closet spaces, my guestroom serves double duty as my beading studio. (And then folds, flips, and closes away to become a comfy guest suite). My metalwork and kiln studio is a glass-lined annex off the TV room that sits right on the 11th hole of one of our community’s golf courses. Yes, it is idyllic. I love it.
What kinds of marketing do you do for your product? What is your marketing approach? Are you “in person” at art fairs and shows, or are you a big online presence? Do you tweet or blog; are you on facebook; how about flickr? Do you have a website? List all your URL’s and visibility addresses.
JBE: I did many shows all over the US when I painted portraits, so I made the decision to not do them, now. I find the Internet’s wider reach a perfect venue. I’m all over the Web in Technorati, Kaboodle, retaggr, Friendfeed, Stumbleupon, and about 300 free directories – but enough is enough. If someone wants to they can shop-me, tweet-me, follow-me, friend-me:
How does the act of creating affect your view of life?
JBE: Although I do have a personal theme song running through my head all the time (a la Ally McBeal, remember her?) I am really a visual person. It’s really a matter of how my view of life affects my creativity. I can’t create if my life isn’t calm. I’m not an “escapist artisan”. It is a real
right-brain/left-brain conundrum, for me. If my left-brain is too occupied, my right-brain can’t slide into that other-worldly zone. So, I distract my left-brain with music, mindless TV, and sometime yoga to calm my frenetic side. And, I can’t try too hard, in life and in my art. I’m a firm believer that if something is meant to happen, it will come together easily. I may be trying to make purple and blue work together, but if I’m not feelin’ it, it ain’t happenin’ …
Not counting your children, what one activity, action, accomplishment, thing in your life are you most happy about or proud of.
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