This month’s Independent Spotlight is with the dynamic Carolyn of Carolyn Buss Jewelry.
What made you decide to start creating jewelry?
I have a need – nay, compulsion – to make things with my hands. Also I like making shiny pretty things that make people go “Eeee!!!” like the dino rings. However, I decided to make jewelry for money in 2007. In 2009, I made it official by doing shows and getting a business license, and even paying taxes! Eek!
How did you get into metalworking?
I was fortunate to go to a high school that had a jewelry program. I took two and a half years of jewelry there. After graduation, I had a beading and wire wrapping job for a little over a year, but the yearning for fire and metalworking was still there. It took me a couple years to get really back into metalsmithing. I had the chance to take a job near a community college that taught metalsmithing, so I did and have been taking classes there since 2008, though I graduated in February this year. I also was the Teaching Assistant for the Jewelry/Metalsmithing class, which helped me realize my ultimate goal of teaching metals to other people. I will be pursuing a BFA in jewelry and metalsmithing, and also try to get a teaching degree while I am at Central Washington University.
How long have you loved making jewelry?
As long as I have lived. I’m sort of an attention whore, and always have been, so jewelry has been a way for me to catch the attention of people who wouldn’t otherwise look. I’m also fairly technical, in that I like putting things together and have the precision necessary for jewelry work, so it is satisfying when something I have been working on, works.
How many hours a day do you work on jewelry?
I go through spurts. Some days I will work on it for 8 hours, and others I don’t work on it at all. I am generally more productive on the days before things are due. When I start my bachelor’s degree in Fine Art I hope to work on jewelry and art much much -much- more.
What made you decide to start selling on Etsy?
I felt that the internet would be a good place to market my work since there is a bigger audience. However, I didn’t immediately realize that there would be that many more competitors, too!! I started my Etsy shop in June 2007 and only this year has it been good to me. These things take time!
How do you come up with your designs?
A lot of my designs come from my love of whatever materials I have used, or the look that I am going for. My stamped work is mostly nerderiffic in theme; I find stamps of things I like, like the dino, or the rocket ship, because they remind me of my childhood and summers when I was a teenager (respectively.) My brother and I used to have a dinosaur book that we made together, which reminds me of the good times with him, and my grandparents sent my cousin and I to Space Camp for about 7 years in a row so we could spend time together.
I also greatly appreciate requests!! I love working with ideas that people give me and turning them from meeting the criteria, to exceeding it beyond their wildest dreams!
How long does it take you to make a single piece of jewelry, such as a ring or a set of earrings?
The stamped rings I make production style since it is easier for me to make a bunch of ring bands and a bunch of stamped disks at a time. I can make at least 10 of those in an hour. A pair of wire wrapped earrings would probably take me 20 minutes, at most. I used to be able to make (put together, not design) 20 pairs in an hour, back when I was employed by a jewelry artist. For stone set rings, I can make a simple one in about an hour. I tend to make lots of things at the same time.
What inspires you?
Nature; I like simplicity and often try to create symmetry and balance in my work. However, I DO like the look of purposeful asymmetry. My friend Patricia inspires me, too. She is awesome and we are the Wonder Twins! Except I’m pale and red-haired and she has caramel skin and long dark wavy/curly hair. <3 her!
What are your favorite colors to use when creating?
ORANGE!! And green, pink, red… Pink+blue is a great combination.
How do you decide what colors will look good together?
Mostly intuition, or randomness. I’m sort of an impulsive person so if I see a color combo in clothes or other accessories, or nature, even, I will try to recreate that in my own way. Much of my work in my etsy shop is one color, with hints of others, but nothing really crazy… yet.
However, in make-up, I pick a few colors I like and try to put them on in a way that will look good.
What makes you decide to create a new product style?
I tend to pay attention to what people are wearing in movies and TV and if I get an idea from what they are wearing, I will make it. I also get inspired by my friend Patricia who also makes jewelry. She is brimming with creativity and happily shares it with all she encounters. Also, I have a set of values and skills that like to be used once in a while, so sometimes I will get a crazy burst of “OMG I HAVE TO SET STONES RIGHT NOW!” so I will do a few and that will keep me busy for a while, til the next burst.
Do you attend conventions?
I would like to attend conventions, but I have not. I am a student and artist, so my money goes to bills and back into creating jewelry. And coffee. I hope to attend PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) someday… That is where my friend met her husband, over a game of Magic The Gathering.
What is your favorite product to create?
Stone setting and sawing and piercing are my favorite techniques to use for products. I don’t do a lot of it because they take a lots of time and often aggravates my wrist and arm. However, it is my favorite technique, so I won’t stop! I just bought a new saw that has helped a lot with the fatigue I normally get with sawing.
What is your least favorite product to create?
Wax carvings, which means I don’t really like lost-wax casting very much. I’ll have to get over that though. It is mostly fear.
Do you have a signature piece of jewelry?
I like to think that my signature is quality and attention to detail. And cute, I always try to infuse cute into my work. However, if I were forced to choose, I would go with the Tiny Dino ring. So cute!!
What are your favorite pieces that you’ve created?
I really love the tiny things that I create. I am also in love with cute things. I was commissioned by a friend to make a fried egg pendant for her sister and I got great inspiration from that! I made 4 pairs of tiny fried egg post earrings. So cute! I am quite fond of the piece I made in high school to commemorate breast cancer. I made three pair of breasts and make pink, kiln-fired enameled ribbons to go with the breasts. The set is a brooch and a pair of earrings, complete with nipples!
What are your favorite colors to wear?
Being of fairly neutral skintone, I can wear almost any color. I tend to prefer coral, red, grey, orange, light blue, charcoal, plum, maroon, black, dark jeans, and… I just found out I look really cute in dresses!
What are your favorite authors or books to read?
Reading has been a passion of mine since I taught myself how to read. It probably started from my need to be like my mom: she was ALWAYS reading, I almost never see her without a book. Some of my favorite authors are Alan Moore, J. R. R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and Charlaine Harris. I’m also enjoying R. A. Salvatore’s novels about Drizzt Do’Urden. I just finished a series called The Bitterbynde Trilogy. That was a good one, too. I just really love reading!
What are your favorite movies or tv shows?
I have a deep and lasting love for Lord of the Rings, Rocky Horror Picture Show, I’m beginning to really enjoy British TV shows and thank goodness for Netflix!! Being Human, Torchwood, Drop Dead Diva, Star Trek: The Next Generation (Capt. Picard is dreamy!!), to name a few.
What is your favorite music?
Mmm music. I tend to gravitate to music I can dance to, there is something inside me that makes me need to dance!! That is why I love dance music and regularly listen to a local station called C 89.5. They broadcast all over the world, and the best thing is no commercials. They are the product of a program at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, WA. Anyway, I also listen to Metallica, Disturbed, Lady Gaga, Tegan and Sarah, Metric, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Frank Sinatra, Jurassic 5, Black Eyed Peas, Shakira, Taproot… And lots lots lots more.
Do you have any pets?
No pets, but I plan on getting 2 dwarf african frogs when I move to go to university. They are contained in their own little eco-system, complete with oxygenating plant, snail and happy bacteria!! Perfect college pets.
Do you have any favorite video games?
My current video game of choice is Oblivion, part of the Elder Scrolls series. I play it on the PS3, but I think I would be better at it on the PC. I used to play WoW until it got too… Elitist for me. I was more of a casual, do-what-ever-quests-you-want and hang out and chit chat while farming kinda gal. I have/had a 70-something Blood Elf Warlock, named Lumi. I used to play on Hyjal, in case anyone cares! I like to watch my boyfriend play Starcraft 2, as well.
What are the colors in your home?
I wish I were organized enough to have colors for my home!! My bedroom is as it has been since high school: leopard print blankets, sheets and pillow cases. I like dark wood furniture, but I have a teal table. Someday I will make my home coordinate.
What are the colors in your workspace?
I like to populate my workspace with green, orange, blue, white and pink! I also looove having artwork around me, especially posters from jewelry exhibits, drawings I can’t get rid of, lithographs, sketches and little doodads.
What do you do to relax?
I am a book nerd, love movies and have a few TV shows that I really enjoy. I also play Oblivion because I can do whatever I want in that game! It is awesome.
How do you pamper yourself?
I love getting facials, massages and my hair done. Mostly I can only afford to get my hair done, and every few months I am able to get a facial.