July 26, 2010

Blog Interview with Bead&Button BeadDreams winner Perri Jackson

The final installment in the interview series of BeadDreams 2010 Winners. May I introduce you to Perri Jackson!


"Perri, this is everyone. Everyone, this is Perri." She is pleased to meet you!

Her amazing piece "Starry Night in Monet's Garden" took third place!

Click to see the detail. Once it opens, click again. You'd better sit down first. 
Yes, it's that beautiful!

Beaducation: Okay, to start I checked out your Etsy site and your creations are terrific! Your work is so intricate and detailed. Can you tell me a bit about your background? Your inspiration?

Perri: Thanks for checking them out! I absolutely love the detail - almost worship it, LOL

I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I found this quote by designer Charles Eames,
"The details are not the details. They make the design."  It's also my email tagline - more like a reminder, really.

My mom was a theatrical costumer and very accomplished seamstress, so I was exposed to nearly every sort of craft or handwork available at very young ages. Made my first embroidery piece at age 5 or 6 - a hanky with a poinsettia for my Gramma. Mom would make me rip out errant stitches, so getting the details right the first time was simply craft survival. Her favorite saying: "Rip it out! It's handmade, not homemade!"

Truth was, I loved being stubbornly hunched over my tiny work and took really great pride in having it pass her inspection the first time. Still do. It made me feel close to her and my grandmother in their turn.

Perri's Soutache Bracelet. Definitely textile inspired!

I've always loved textile handwork - we encapsulate ourselves in the twists and turns of the stitches - it just seems really natural to adapt wire to that work. I particularly love creating a hollow form with metal 'stitches.' First, because it allows me to create my own little secret container for that 'women's work' spirit.  Being able to construct those forms without solder in a very traditional, yet somewhat unexpected method is very satisfying to the closet engineer in me.

Beaducation: You must have been working with wire for a while. Is wire working your first foray into jewelry making, or have you created jewelry in other media?

Perri: I've created fiber jewelry since I was very young - sold macrame earrings with beads to my friends in grade school - we're talking *separated* six strand embroidery floss and beads - even smaller than most of today's micro macrame. I had the pleasure of teaching and designing knitwear for many years - at one point I had the idea of reliving that past grade school glory and knitting tiny sweaters with silk on straight pins as brooches. Yes, I'm a miniatures nut - but they were really cool! Of course, I created jewelry from beads as many of us do - care to guess my favorite bead size? LOL

Beaducation: I noticed that you have PDFs available to teach your designs and some projects are even free. What's your philosophy on teaching? Do you like teaching or selling jewelry or both?

Perri's Rose of Sharon Etsy tutorial. You can check it out here.

Perri: I love making and selling pieces, but am limited to how long I can work by a past physical injury, so only take limited commissions. I want to create until I'm like, 90 - but also want to be able to help pay the bills in an artful way. So I got the idea to continually create scads of stuff and then help other people learn the skills to make pieces like them. My husband says it's my evil plan to take over the world by infecting others with the need to create tiny Escher-esque earrings - he's right, it's evil - but it feels so good, LOL

Doing this small, exacting work is sometimes challenging - my personal philosophy is that in any work, there is the 'right' way, the 'wrong' way, and the 'easy' way that ends up looking exactly like the 'right' way without the hassle. I search for that last one, and encourage others to do the same.
I've found that people are hungry to learn how to go beyond the basics, but that takes a bit more work and focus than simple magazine tutorials can offer.  I really believe in the power of negative examples - illustrating what can go wrong, analyzing it, and then showing a successful path. Stressing the laughter found in our common missteps - those Homer Simpson moments - DOH!! Heck, I made the mistakes already - the least I can do is stand there and point to the big hole in the street so others don't fall into it. Wow, I just realized I'm a Caltrans Jewelry maker!!!LOL (That's definitely a California joke!!)

Beaducation: What is the one wire working tool that you can't live without?

Perri: LOL, Kate! You know good and well that this question is like asking whether I can eat only one potato chip! (...I do! Sorry Perri! :))

But seriously, due to my injury, I really couldn't do my work without my trusty DeWalt variable speed reversible drill for my coils. I create yards of them and then manipulate them into my hollow beads. After that comes my guitar strings, my needle awl, and my knitting needles.

Beaducation: Are your artistic endeavors your full time job?

One of Perri's artistic endeavors!

Perri: Yes, my wonderful husband became my patron and offered me the opportunity to follow that path a couple of years ago. I bless him every day. Then I bless the folks who like the art I have to offer.

Beaducation: After reading the posts on your blog, you seem to be really upbeat and positive. What advice can you give to beginning designers? Seasoned designers? What are your words of wisdom to share?

Perri: For beginners: Take the time to learn not only the characteristics of your media, but the history of your craft. That way, you don't re-invent the wheel. Absolutely DO NOT focus on creating for money, that is incredibly limiting. I use a technique from the theater, go over the top first, get really crazy. You can always pull it back if needed.

For seasoned designers? Same things, except I would add that since you have necessarily gotten concerned with the money, treat your inner artist to a date now and then. Inject a fresh perspective into your artistic life. Go do one pleasant artistic thing every week that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with your chosen medium. You might be pleasantly surprised at how it affects your work.

Beaducation: What prompted you to enter the BeadDreams contest?

Perri: My first love was beads, lots of tiny beads, but I love how wire interacts with them maybe even more. They support each other. I mean, my first wire endeavors were to make super-cool and unique findings for my bead creations. But they can stand alone, too so it just feels like if we talk about one, we should be talking about both. It has seemed to me that while metal clay has found an honored place in the competition, there are many who don't realize that wire can be just as magnificent but far more accessible. I wanted to expand the conversation and was so very glad that the wire category was added this year!

I've started teaching at various venues across the US. I'll be in Cleveland, OH , Orlando FL and Washington DC, this September and October. I would love to add my heartfelt thanks for sponsoring the prizes. My website is definitely a work in progress, but there is more coming soon, including a calendar.

If you are interested in some of my past work, check out my Flickr stream.

Thanks Perri for chatting with us! Your work is really awesome!

Interested in finding out about the BeadDreams Contest for 2011? More information is up on the Bead&Button website. Why not give it a go? We'd love to interview you next year!


Perri Jackson said...

My thanks again to Beaducation for sponsoring the Wire Work category in Bead Dreams - it is just so great that you support the medium that way!

Thanks too, for interviewing me - I had so much fun with the questions, and they reminded me of things I had forgotten - a sure fire creativity and confidence boost!


Mary Jane said...

Loved the interview! love your pieces ! love you!!!!

Shelley said...

Going to Perri's classes in Orlando, October 15, 16 and 17. Looking forward to learning all i can

Maneki said...

Perri makes such lovely jewellery. The wireworked beads in that first necklace are just fab! And the soutache bracelet is very pretty: I like that type of ribbon, but interpreted in wire it was ever better!

Unknown said...

I have been doing wire jewelry for some time. I just moved to the orlando area and am looking to improve my skills as well... Loved the bracelet you made and that is what i am wanting to do more of . My email is c_tizzani@yahoo.com. I would appreciate any information on this topic. Thanks in advance.