A conversation with Wild Heather: creativity, jewelry and fauna
I recently had the opportunity to converse with Wild Heather, the artist who created the freshwater pearl and sky blue chalcedony earrings for the Spring Beauty, Spring Cleaning Giveaway. She's has a fine creative sense, a true warmth of spirit and a love of animals.
Here is a picture of her companion, Willie.
Diana:Looking through your shop I noticed you work primarily with natural materials. How does Nature inspire your work?
Wild Heather: Nature inspires my work in that I consider myself to be fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful areas of the world! Vancouver BC is a world class city surrounded by Nature: our landscape was quite literally shaped by the Coast Mountain range, the Pacific Ocean and the Fraser River! I've been lucky enough to call this area home my whole life, and the beauty I see around me every day inspires all I do!
Diana:What is your favourite piece of jewelry that you've made recently? Please tell us a little about why you loved creating it.
Wild Heather: My favourite piece is usually the one I've most recently created! Right now, I am in love with the combination of brushed sterling silver and labradorite! I love labradorite because of its mutability: it changes and flashes and shows off its colours. As you move, it moves with you. A piece that I have in my shop that really shows this off is my new Echo of Teardrops Earrings.
Diana: Beautiful! Can you tell us a little about what it is like to create a piece of jewelry?
Wild Heather: Since I am a totally random and abstract thinker, my creative methods and processes change with the seasons and the winds! The first part of the process, the inspiration, is different every time. It might start with a song fragment or lyric, the sight of something caught out of the corner of my eye...a fleeting flash of insight into what's going on in the world around me. When I get those flashes, I try to sketch them or write them down somewhere. I keep two lovely journals, both designed by papercraftsbyk on Etsy. I 'word doodle' or sketch, or write to myself about jewellery ideas. Once I have the ideas, the real work begins!
Once all the ideas are rocketing around inside my head like an overcaffeinated squirrel, the real fun starts. I select the pieces of silver, stone and wire I'll need to complete the project. I have to choose everything from the findings (ear-wires? posts? French style leverbacks?) to the matching stones! Most of the time when I buy stones, I buy a whole strand, or multiple strands if I am REALLY lucky.
That means I have to meticulously measure each stone using a digital micrometer to match each pair for length, width and thickness, as well as colour. Occasionally, I will splurge and buy a few sets of pre-matched pairs from a very few trusted Etsy sellers. Sometimes it's worth the extra money to ensure the match is as perfect as possible!
Once the choosing is done, the nitty gritty of the work starts! I wrap my stones using fine sterling silver wire; I like to use 26 gauge to wire wrap because I don't need to worry about the wire chipping my stones! I do my wire wrapping under a magnifier light to get the wraps as even and uniform as possible. After I snip each wire, I give it a little pinch with the pliers to tuck in any bits that are sticking out, so that they aren't visible to the naked eye. Finally, it's time to photograph them for my shop!
Diana: Your attention to detail really shows in the finished piece. I was so curious as to how you matched the stones in color and size. Both pairs I have from you display such exacting symmetry. This is especially remarkable given the natural components.
Readers of painted Lady fingers are animal lovers. Can you tell us a bit about your pets?
Heather: The grande dame of the group is my 16 year old Border Collie cross, Cocoa. She still loves to be patted and walked. Even children who are afraid of dogs want to pet this gentle girl. She still enjoys moments of great enthusiasm and energy, especially near the water! Here she is in the summer of '09, (at 15 years of age!) gallivanting along the sandbars alongside the Fraser River!
Next on the list is Pagan the cat, or the Screamacat as we call her. Pagan has DEFINITE ideas about when breakfast time is: it's usually between 2 hours and 20 minutes before I am ready to get out of bed! Sometimes we are graced with her presence on the bed for snuggles, but it is strictly on her terms. She is 16 and very bossy.
And then there's Willy. Willy says 'Good morning!' by jumping up on the bed as soon as I get out of it. He curls up in my warm spot while I stumble around, trying to caffeinate myself sufficiently.
Willie came to us as a half-starved six week old puppy, one of a litter of 13. He has been our pampered baby ever since. He is the love of our lives, and supports me in all my crafting endeavours, but he is especially fond of my knitting, because the thick scarves I like to knit are soft and cozy!
Lastly, while this isn't a pet, I am fortunate enough to see these incredible birds in the wild, up close, on an almost daily basis at the right time of year. Isn't he magnificent?
Diana: Oh, lovely! Thank you for sharing. I have one more question for you. This was posed by my philosopher friend. I couldn't resist asking on his behalf.
What is the meaning of earrings?
Heather: That's easy! Earrings are everything, and nothing...
I've loved nail polish since girlhood. My grandmom bought me colorful bottles every time we went to the drugstore together. That sentiment has never left me. My favorite brands now are China Glaze, Chanel, Color Club, Misa, Nubar, OPI and Zoya. I can't pass by Sally Hansen, Milani, or Rimmel in a drugstore without incident of shopping. I dream of vast stores of old Urban Decay and Hard Candy polishes. In reality, I have a few. I have a penchant for glitter and the Konad has taken over much of my brainspace with swirls, flowers and butterflies. I like whimsy. I carry a parasol.