Heather: That's a great attitude to have. Two part question here: why do you think people love to wear jewelry, and why do you think people love to make jewelry?
Patti: This is why I have found my calling. I don't think many people know, but in my first career, I was a painter for galleries in Carmel, California, and I was published by a greeting card company for 15 years. One of the things that was a little discouraging about selling through galleries was I never met the people who got to see my paintings, I never knew where it went.
Often a painting just goes on someone's wall. You have no control over the lighting. The cool thing about jewelry is it's a personal item, people treasure their jewelry. They wear it and it goes with them wherever they go. It brings a lot of joy to a lot of people.
I think that people love to wear jewelry because also it's a self expression or they can carry something sentimental with them. A lot of our jewelry has a sentimental meaning or it reflects what colors we love, what textures we love. It's a way to make a statement about your own preferences and taste.
And then I think people love to make jewelry because it is something personal and special that people treasure. It is something that doesn't hang on a hidden wall. Jewelry is just such a fun thing to share and do, and you can put these hidden sentimental meanings or overtly have them displayed like the birthstone. A birthstone bracelet is a good example. You can carry those you love with you in a birthstone bracelet, so I think that jewelry is such a personal item. It makes it very special.
Heather: So you're teaching some sterling silver ring classes that look like the finished pieces could be in a high-end jewelry store, what are a couple techniques that jewelry artists need to practice to elevate their pieces from looking homemade to looking like beautiful designer jewelry?
Patti: Quite honestly, I'm gonna say this but I don't want it to scare a beginner or anyone who does not view themselves as detail-oriented, but it's in the teeny details, the tiny details, that are very easy to add to a piece, very easy to learn and do, and it takes very few tools.
A good example is the polish that you put on a piece. The way you finish your edges, that's one of the things that doesn't take much time, but it makes a huge difference. It doesn't take expensive tools, it's something that is easily learned, and I think that learning what matters and what doesn't is important.
I tend to be a perfectionist, and I did get a Ph.D, and they told me when I went to grad school, my task was not to complete every assignment (this sounds terrible!) it was to learn exactly what I had to do to get by, and what to let go of, and what I didn't have to do. It's not about achieving perfect, it's about learning the simple little things that do matter and letting go of the things that don't. A piece of jewelry does not have to be perfect to look amazing.
I keep trying to find a balance where it doesn't have to be perfect, but you have some simple easy-to-do finishing techniques that just give it that extra pizzazz.
Heather: That's a great philosophy, I like that. What gave you the idea to develop a tool line of your own? Did you have to keep a lot of different pliers and mandrels around, or did you use found objects a lot, before you designed your Wubbers pliers?
Patti: No. I think one of the things that actually really influenced me was when I was a painter, I did the same thing.
I started with really inexpensive, very economical paintbrushes and materials, and then the more professional I became, the more I gave myself permission to buy the nicer paint brushes and the high-quality paints. I was honestly quite shocked at the difference it made in how easy it was to do my work, to have the proper tools.
Well when I had made a lot of lampwork beads and I started to make jewelry, I knew the importance of tools. I don't believe in buying a tool just because it's expensive; I like to look for tools that have a good value and that meet my needs.
I had bought top of the line tools, and I was getting very frustrated because I like to work with heavy metal, but also I like to work with a variety. Contrast is big to me. I love contrast! So I might be sitting there working with a piece of 12-gauge silver and want to turn around and wrap it with 26 or 28-gauge fine silver, and I'm one of those people who hates to changes purses, I hate to change pliers! I just like to be able to grab what's in front of me and not have to worry about having 20 million tools to do each little thing.
The tools that I had, I found, they were quality tools, but I was going to wreck them if I used them the way I wanted to. That's kind of what set me on the road to developing the line of tools. Some frustration I was feeling, in actually using the tools. It wasn't that I just decided one day that I was going to make tools, it was the experience of needing something different. I developed the tools actually before I developed the idea of to sell them.
Heather: That's wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge and for this wonderful interview. Patti is going to be back teaching with us in Tucson this year at the JOGS Show and everybody needs to sign up for her classes. Not only is she a knowledgeable and jewelry artist she is actually wonderfully charismatic person and we love having her. She's an absolute joy. Thank you so much Patti for doing this interview.
Patti: Thank you! You just make me feel so special, Heather, and I look forward to seeing everyone. We have so much fun! I'm so excited to be back!
Heather: We do! Thanks Patti, have a good one!